Tagged: women in business

Dame of the Day: Saran Kaba Jones

Saran Kaba Jones

Today’s Dame of the Day is Saran Kaba Jones (June 21, 1982-). As a diplomat’s daughter, she traveled extensively as a child. After college, she returned to her native Liberia to organize clear water initiatives. Jones founded FACE Projects, a non-profit that builds water access points  in rural areas. Their latest effort, CbC, aims to bring clean drinking water to over 60,000 people.

Dame of the Day: Martine Rothblatt

Martine Rothblatt

Today’s Dame of the Day is Martine Rothblatt (1954-). Armed with an MBA and a law degree, Rothblatt began her career in communication satellite law and later became involved with the Human Genome Project. Today, she remains the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics Corp., making her the highest-paid female executive. In her spare time, she advocates for the rights of trans people and promotes the Terasem Movement, a philosophy she developed which promotes technological immortality through nanotechnology.

Schoolin’ Life: Rhonda Cole

A quick note about a previous post: the final voting round for Women on 20s began this week. Be sure to cast yours now!

And now on to today’s Schoolin’ Life, where we check in with the wonderful Rhonda Cole.

Rhonda-Cole,-Gail-Ahye

Rhonda and friend Gail Ahye. Image courtesy of New York Social Diary.

I’m a former publishing executive, recently turned entrepreneur, designing and selling a line of high quality, white shirts/blouses for women made in the USA. After spending more than 25 years in publishing on the design category, producing a weekly design section, quarterly magazine, and annual designer speaker series to promote the industry, I felt the urge to create. With limited knowledge of the fashion industry, I allowed my passion and determination to fuel my passion to learn and experience something new.  My knowledge of design while in publishing was primarily limited to product, furniture and interior design.

When you were in your 20s..

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

In my early 20’s, I was living in Chicago but desperately wanted to move to New York.  Back then, a women with a college degree was highly prized, so I knew I would be successful. I packed my bags, leaving behind friends and family for a city where I didn’t know a soul.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

Women were entering the workforce in large numbers. We thought we could have it all: career, family and financial success. Although there were many progressive social movements at the time, they were drowned out by the emphasis placed on achieving financial success. I lived in the era of “the me generation” and “yuppie” movement.  I thought if I worked hard, I could have it all, too!

What was your first job like?

My first job was fast paced, exciting and exhausting.  I was employed as a Merchandising Editor for a major magazine. I traveled nonstop across the country giving lectures to working women, granting newspaper and television interviews on personal style and dressing for success.  There was a lot of emphasis placed on dressing for success in those days.  

What was your first apartment like?

My first apartment was a hotel, as I lived in the The Barbizon Hotel for Women for several months. Fortunately, it was paid for by my company.  Today it’s a luxury condo. My first real apartment was a shared, two bedroom, one bathroom for $395 a month, including electricity.  My roommate was an aspiring actress from a ritzy, Connecticut suburb. I found that apartment through a roommate service for young women.

Did you experience any big life changes?

My father died, I landed a new job, married and gave birth to a daughter, while in my 20’s.

In what ways did your friendships change?

My friendships have evolved in many different ways. I lost touch with quite a few college and childhood friends because I lived in a new city.  I didn’t have the opportunity to develop new friendships in New York at the time, as I was constantly traveling.  It took a while.  There was no social media back then and it was difficult to keep track of everyone. My colleagues became my friends.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

Keep your girlfriends close!

How did your relationships with your family change?

I think my relationship with my family strengthened.  My mom and I were very close. I spoke to her almost every day, especially after my father passed.

How do you feel society viewed you?

Not sure.  

How did you change intellectually?

I became more curious about the world.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I’m not sure my identity changed, per se, but I think my personality, personal style, and general views about life were taking shape without realizing it.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

Politically and socially, my views remained the same.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

I was in a swimming pool and realized the top of my strapless swimsuit came down.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

My mother had the biggest influence on me. She taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade?  

The market crash in 1987, or “Black Monday” as it was named, was the largest one day market drop in history. It was a very unsettling feeling.

Do you have any regrets?

There are too few and insignificant to mention.

Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I wish I had taken more time for personal travel.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

There’s a movie, Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas. “GREED IS GOOD.”  That was the motto for many in the 80’s.  The Bonfire of The Vanities by Tom Wolfe also comes to mind. This novel tells a compelling story about greed, social class and the haves and have nots in the 80’s.

Schoolin’ Life: Cindy Wu

One quick housekeeping note before we kick off this Friday: if you’ve signed up for the email list, make sure to check your spam/Promotions/Social folders if it doesn’t pop up in your inbox. Haven’t signed up for the email list? Well, then, put it on your to-do list for the day!

And now on to today’s Schoolin’ Life, where we get some sub-30s wisdom from Experiment founder Cindy Wu.

CIndy Wu

 

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Cindy Wu. I care about science more than just about everything in the world. I spend my time in the car driving around the country meeting scientists, trying to make a difference.

When you were in your 20s…

(I am still in my 20s… I am 26)

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I thought I would stay in science and try to become an academic.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

At a young age, my parents taught me that I could do anything I wanted. I think that made it a lot more difficult to expect a specific outcome for myself. I spent all of college trying new things, mainly to figure out what I did not like. At least then, I could cross a few things off the list.

What was your first job like?

I worked at Baskin Robbins. I made a mean banana split.

What was your first apartment like?

During college, I lived in dorms and then in houses with friends. I moved into my first apartment right after college when we were just starting Experiment. It was a studio near the university and we had very little furniture. I think we had a mattress and later acquired a futon; that was it. My apartment today still only has two mattresses. I don’t own a lot of things.

Did you experience any big life changes?

Absolutely. I started a company with my best friend. I moved away from home for the first time. I traveled the world for the first time. I hired (and fired) people for the first time. There were a lot of firsts.

In what ways did your friendships change?

My old friendships haven’t changed much. I stayed very close with my childhood friends and college friends.  I’ve met a lot of new friends since moving to San Francisco. I try to get my old friends to meet my new friends.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

A lot. The biggest thing I learned is that people change and are constantly changing. I’ve always believed in love and believed that love is true in the time and place that two people are in love. What’s been new is I discovered that love evolves in ways I had never imagined. It only goes up from here.

How did your relationships with your family change?

I started to pay more attention to my family. I visited all of my aunts and uncles this year. I also visited my grandparents in Taiwan. Technology has made it easy to stay in touch with my family. We have a family chat room where we message each other every day

How do you feel society viewed you?

Early in my 20s, I felt that society viewed me as incompetent, but later I came to the conclusion that it was all in my head. I don’t think about this or care about this much anymore.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I feel that I’m much more emotionally stable, but also much more impulsive. I do what I want when I want. It’s pretty difficult to make me mad these days. This is difficult for me to explain.

How did you change intellectually?

Early in my 20s, I was very, very naive. I think I’ve learned how to work much smarter, but I also think I work harder. I think I used to be more courageous; I’m trying to get that back.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I don’t think my identity has changed much. My identity hasn’t changed much since I was a child. I just like being a kid, but that doesn’t mean I am immature. Even though I run a company, I don’t identify as an entrepreneur. I’ve always identified as an explorer (and maybe a scientist), but today I still think I am more of an explorer than an entrepreneur or a scientist.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

A lot has changed. I don’t read or follow the news, but I’ve learned a lot about the world through travel and personal experiences. I think now is the most exciting time in human history. I am very optimistic about the future.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

I have the opportunity to meet many famous or very successful individuals. I often don’t know how important they are until after we’ve met. I tend to say a lot of embarrassing things or ask embarrassing questions. I have no regrets, though.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

My biggest disappointment was in not investing in myself. We put our blood sweat and tears into Experiment and did whatever it took to keep the company alive. We put all our expenses on our credit cards for the first year. After we raised our first seed round, we still continued to live in the office working 24/7. Ultimately, that led to burn out. It almost killed my relationship with my co-founder/best friend and with that the company. I’ve changed my philosophy on life dramatically.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

One thing that has stayed constant in my entire life is my admiration for Hayao Miyazaki and his work. Some other big influences in my life have been cartoon or video game characters. Ash Ketchum is one of them. Yes, I still dream of becoming a Pokemon master.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

I’m only 5 years in, but when I turned 25 I took a really deep look at what I had done and what I want to do moving forward. I took time off and saw the world by myself. 25 was a really tough year for me, but once I turned 26 everything changed. Now I wake up every day knowing that today will be the best day of my life.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

No regrets. None. I often tell my friends that if I died today, I would be okay with it because I believe I’ve lived a full life for a 26 year-old. Don’t get me wrong, my best years are still ahead of me.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

One story? I feel like I live in a movie. I feel like I’ve lived many lifetimes since I turned 20 and I’m only 26.

Schoolin’ Life: Joanne Wilson

In today’s edition of Schoolin’ Life, we catch up with angel investor Joanne Wilson.

joanne_wilson-HR-8059

 

Joanne Wilson has had many careers. She started out in retail, eventually moving to the wholesale arena. She then transitioned to the media side of the technology world, before reinventing herself as an investor. She is currently an active angel investor with a portfolio of over 65 companies such as Food52, Catchafire, Vengo, Nestio, Captureproof, Maker’s Row, Le Tote, and Little Borrowed Dress. She has been involved in numerous real estate transactions from beginning to end and continues to make investments in that world. She is also an investor in a few restaurants in the New York area. In addition to these endeavors, Joanne has been involved in various education projects and chairs Hot Bread Kitchen, a non-­profit committed to increasing access to the culinary industry for woman and minority entrepreneurs. She also sits on the board of The High Line and Wesleyan University.
Joanne has maintained her very popular blog, Gotham Gal, for over 10 years. She loves to bake, cook, throw a good party, travel, read, collect art, do the crossword and stay on top of what’s happening around the globe and in NYC.
Her most successful venture is being married to her best friend, Fred and raising their three kids,­ Jessica, Emily and Josh.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I expect the next decade to be an opportunity to continue to engage with companies, entrepreneurs and make the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival bigger and better.

What was your first job like?

My first real job was in high school. I worked for the Montgomery County Education Department. I coached sports across the area to kids in junior high school and elementary school. I also worked the office where we coordinated all the different programs around the county. It definitely honed my organizational skills.

What was your first apartment like?

Our first apartment was in the Alston area of Boston. It was very dark, brown and junky but it was an apartment, and not on campus, so it was fantastic.

Did you experience any big life changes?

Having children was a huge life changer. Nobody tells you what to expect. All of a sudden, you are responsible for human beings that have to be fed, clothed and nurtured. Running a company and raising a family at the same time is not easy, but it does force you to get it all done no matter what.

In what ways did your friendships change?

There are so many different stages of your life. At each stage you make new friends and bring the old ones along. I seem to always have a nice mixture of both.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

My biggest influence has been my husband and my kids. They are such an important part of my daily life. Their thoughts, their ideas and their relationships are the back bone to my success.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Never regrets. I prefer to spend time on the positive.

Dame of the Day: Katherine Gottlieb

Katherine Gottlieb

Today’s Dame of the Day is Katherine Gottlieb (1952-). After earning a degree in business administration, Gottleib became president and CEO of Southcentral Foundation. SCF provides healthcare to Alaska’s native population; their Nuka model of care extends beyond physical health to encompass psychological, spiritual and cultural needs. In 1999, Alaska became the first state to have all Native American health care covered by Native organizations. Gottlieb won a MacArthur Fellowship in for her work in 2004.

Schoolin’ Life: Cristina Cartagena

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we’re catching up with the fantastic Cristina Cartagena.

cristina

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

I’m a native New Yorker. I was born and raised in Queens. My family is from Ecuador; I traveled there every year in the summer for as long as I can remember. I did junior high school in Quito at a girls’ school run by nuns. I hated the school, but my pride and love for Ecuador grew stronger. It is a big part of who I am, but I belong in New York.

My husband, Miguel, and I have two boys: Alexander, 7, and Antonio, 3. We are into running; it helps keep us sane. I didn’t really start training until after having Antonio. When I was seven months pregnant, I decided to sign up to do a half marathon after the baby was born to motivate myself. Alexander was born March 16th and I completed the Brooklyn Half (my first race) in May.  I joined North Brooklyn Runners shortly after that and I’ve been running ever since (except for when I’m injuring myself by fracturing things). I also try to practice yoga.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

My expectations for my 20s revolved around developing my career. I majored in Marketing Advertising Communications at Baruch, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my major. I wanted to go back to school so I started taking a few classes at FIT. I loved it and wound up getting a second Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising specializing in Product Development.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I had a really hard time finding a job without an internship. I couldn’t intern because I worked full-time through college to support myself and pay for school. It became clear that it was just as much about whom you know than what you know. 10 years later, I find myself in the same situation.

What was your first job like?

My first job was in retail. I had two part-time jobs so that I could have a flexible schedule to fit my classes.  You have to deal with so many different personalities in one day and learn how to approach each one.

What was your first apartment like?

I lived with my mom through college. Shortly after I graduated, I met Miguel and I gradually started moving into his apartment in Brooklyn. I was asked to officially move in; then we got engaged and started a family.

Did you experience any big life changes?   

The biggest change in my life was having Alexander.  Your life completely changes after becoming a parent. You have to rearrange your life and find a new balance. There is a lot of guilt involved in becoming a mom, especially if you are working. It takes a while to figure out what works and to allow yourself to do things for you.

In what ways did your friendships change?

I had Alexander when I was 27; my friendships changed radically after that. Most of my friends are just now getting married and starting a family. I feel like I am a decade ahead of them.  I have only a handful of close friends. I’ve had the same best friend since Pre-K.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned that if you have to work really hard to make the relationship work, then it’s not working.  Relationships are a work in progress it’s nice to grow up together and be supportive partners.

How did your relationships with your family change?

I’m lucky to have my immediately family just over a bridge in Queens. I don’t think it has changed much, maybe because it’s because I see them frequently.

How do you feel society viewed you?

I don’t really think about that much. I don’t really care about how other view me aside from my boys.  I know they are always watching and listening.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

Having the boys has made me a little bit more sensitive and empathetic, but I’m still a tough New Yorker, too.

How did you change intellectually?

I’m always curious as to how things work. I’ve become especially interested in nutrition; I became a vegetarian in my early 20s and I became fascinated with what your body really needs to work. That led to learning how to make it taste good and exploring new foods.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

It’s hard to say; you wear so many hats in one day. I’ve added so many things to who I am and I think that will constantly evolve and change with new life experiences.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

I am pretty clumsy, so embarrassing things happen to me fairly often.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

My biggest disappointment has been not being able to work in the field in which I earned my degrees. In college, I started working as a paralegal and that became my accidental career. I’m currently trying to get my career going, but it’s a little bit more challenging when you have a family and you are starting over later in life.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

My grandmother was my biggest influence. My grandfather worked in Quito while my grandmother was raising my mom and her sisters in a small town a few hours outside the city. She also had a catering business, grew her own food in the backyard and had her own store. She was strong, compassionate, adventurous, and always had to keep busy.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

I think 9/11 was defining moment for everyone in that decade. I was in my junior year at Baruch I remember someone running into class saying what happened. I ran out of the classroom, looked south and saw all the smoke coming from downtown. I had just quit my job at the World Trade Center Gap to focus more on my schoolwork. It was chaos; no one really knew what was going on or if we were all about to get hit again.  It was a strange feeling; I had always felt safe in my city.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

No regrets. I wouldn’t change my present.

Schoolin’ Life: Fei Deyle

We’re back in action with Schoolin’ Life and this installment is definitely worth the wait. Today, we check in with Fei Deyle, the founder and CEO of Lollipuff, an online auction that verifies the authenticity of designer fashion items.
profile-fei-deyle

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I did not have any grand expectations for myself. After completing college, I thought I’d take a regular engineering job and slowly climb the ranks within the corporate world with my hard work.

 

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I don’t think society or media has influenced me too much aside from style. My family, friends and husband are the biggest influencers; they have always given me confidence. They are spectacular people, and to have such amazing people think that YOU are amazing and deserving is really validating.

 

What was your first job like?

The first job that I made money at was in grade school. I went around and gathered wild vegetables and sold them door-to-door. My first “real” job was in high school. I worked as an Applebee’s hostess.

 

What was your first apartment like?

With two roommates in college. My room was furnished with a plastic roller container and an air mattress.

 

Did you experience any big life changes?

The biggest life change was marrying my amazing husband that I’ve been with since high school.

 

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

When you’re with someone right, it’s just easy… aside from big changes like working together on a startup or having a kid (don’t have one, but I’d imagine that would be the case).

 

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I think people do most of their maturing in their 20s. This time is stuffed full of big events: first professional job, possibly marriage, some have kids, first house, etc, etc. I’ve learned to be much more humble and to try to not pass judgement on others. Being a good person is the most important quality to have.

 

How did you change intellectually?

Though I was never a mediocre student, I definitely wasn’t the best. Grades and punishment never inspired me to do better. I’ve learned what drives me intellectually in my 20s. It’s when I set set goals that I can achieve through my actions, not some alphabet letter on a sheet of paper. Making Lollipuff.com grow bigger each month or adding a feature that tons of women will appreciate and love is so much more satisfying.

 

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I am much more aware of how incredibly and ridiculously lucky I am. It would be amazing if I can use Lollipuff to give second chances to those who were not as fortunate as I was.

 

What was the most embarrassing moment?

I’m sure I’ve put my foot in my mouth a thousand times, but I honestly don’t remember stuff like that.

 

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

My biggest disappointment was not doing things for a purpose. I could have had a huge head start if I just did things for a purpose. For instance, I wish I had worked on projects that not only helped me learn things but projects that led to products that could have helped others.

 

Who was your biggest influence and why?

My mother, father, sister, best friend from high school and husband. They are so inspirational. My super smart little sister has a heart of gold and is wise beyond her years. Emily, my close friend from high school is the most kind girl you’ll ever meet; she’s truly genuine and I often strive to be more like her. My husband is nothing short of brilliant and is the best husband that anyone can expect. My mother and father built themselves up from nothing in rural China; they are the epitome of steadiness, hard work and resilience.

 

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

The only regret is not putting purpose to my efforts. Example: taking certain college classes that I would forget and never use again.

 

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

The start of Lollipuff. It consumes me; it is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last when I go to sleep. It is everything to me since it started.

Dame of the Day: Zainab Salbi

Zainab Salbi

Today’s Dame of the Day is Zainab Salbi (1969-). After her family experienced psychological abuse from Saddam Hussein’s, this Iraqi-American dedicated her life to defending women’s rights worldwide. She founded Women for Women International, a DC-based non-profit that supports women survivors of war around the world. Currently, she is developing social media platforms to help Arab and Muslim women share their voices.

Schoolin’ Life: Jessica Schwalbe

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we check in with the illustrious Jessica Schwalbe.

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Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

Hi, I’m Jess. I’m 30. By day I’m a legal assistant for a law firm in midtown, NYC. On the side, I also work for a production company that puts on large scale parties around the City. When I’m not at work, I like to kick back with friends and enjoy myself however I like. Sometimes that includes going to a bar and socializing. Other times it involves latch hooking or reading a book by myself while listening to music.

When you were in your 20s…
What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I honestly never had BIG expectations for myself. I’ve always been the kind of girl that “went with the flow” of life. All that I cared about was being “happy” while doing whatever it was that I was doing. If something sparked my interest and I felt confident in myself, I would go for it. Sometimes it worked out for the best and sometimes it was a bust. Regardless of the outcome, feeling happy or something of the like was most important.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I come from a run-of-the-mill middle class family but lived amongst the very wealthy. Growing up I always thought that if I made a lot of money, I NEVER wanted to be like the people I that surrounded me. I saw how money can turn people into insatiable, disingenuous, ungrateful and, more often than not, robot-like beings. Money has never been a “goal” of mine; I think it’s a poor way to live and think. I believe it’s because of my surroundings during my adolescence, which falls in line with my answer to the previous question. As far as my 20s go, I still feel the same about that. Do I hang out with the high profile socialites of NYC? No. Do I have a desire to? Not really. I like to surround myself with like-minded people and people with good morals and intentions.

What was your first job like?

I was 14. I was a hostess for a small Italian restaurant in a standard shopping plaza getting paid under the table because I wasn’t of age. It was disgusting to witness how this kitchen was run, but I worked with friends and I was making money for the first time. I can honestly say I had a GREAT time at my first job. Go Boboli’s! In my 20s, I started working for a law firm and I’ve been a legal assistant throughout my 20s. It’s good.

What was your first apartment like?

My first apartment was a shared 4 bedroom. One roommate was a friend and we were very close. The other 2 girls were randoms. It was a mile away from the University of Central Florida. It was cheap, dirty and looking back on it, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to come over my own house. We were slobs and we didn’t care. The two girls I didn’t know ended up being complete psychos but that’s pretty standard when it comes to first apartments with random girls, right?

Did you experience any big life changes?

The very first night on my own was also the very first night I tried cocaine. I was hooked from the first line. For the following 6 months, I proceeded to do massive amounts of cocaine and other drugs. I failed out of college (which I paid for, so I literally put all of my money up my nose), lost my job and couldn’t afford my apartment anymore. I had to move back in with my parents and it felt like I was plucked out of this shit social scene and left in the dark, but for the best. I sobered up and started my life again. My 20s have allowed me to see what life has to offer without a hazy brain. THAT feels great.

In what ways did your friendships change?

After the sobering dark days I didn’t socialize much. I was always a very social person but after not talking and forming relationships for so long I felt rusty and not very confident. Friendships that I had in the past seemed fake. I didn’t feel like I had any true friends except for the  two or three from growing up that stuck around. Over the years, I have made some really great friends who I know will be around forever. Let’s call them “Forevers.” I feel like the confidence you gain over your 20s, for everyone, will allow you to find your Forevers. Or weed them out, rather. Your 20s is for weeding but your 30s are for nurturing and growing your Forevers.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

First and foremost, they are all different. You will take away something different from each relationship, which I feel is directly linked to the person you become in your 30s. The older you get, the more influence romantic relationships have on you. I’ve been married, I’ve been divorced, I’ve been so in love that it hurt. It literally hurt! And I’ve been devastatingly heartbroken. So heartbroken that it as if my soul was this little ball of light that I could hold and it had dulled to the point that I could barely see it. It was very sad. But time healed and self reflection occurred and little by little my soul was able to shine bright again. It took ALL of my 20s, the trials and tribulations of romantic relationships, albeit, healthy, dysfunctional, with women, unsatisfying, solely sexual, heartbreaking, etc. for my soul to shine this bright. It feels great and I wouldn’t change anything, That being said BYE BYE 20s. You were a bitch! But I love you, you bitch.

How did your relationships with your family change?

Overall my relationships have been good with my family. The bonds of family have remained fairly strong. There are always a couple of bad apples in families and you deal with them as you see fit. But overall I luckily feel the bonds have only gotten stronger.

How do you feel society viewed you?

It’s varied over the years. I was married at 21. I was with my husband for about four years and while most girls in their early to mid 20s were settling down and starting families (because that’s what you do right? WRONG!), my husband and I agreed that we didn’t want children or to buy a house. Instead, we packed up our car, drove 1,300 miles and moved to New York City . After a year of living in the City together, we split up. By 25, I was a divorcée, living on my own in the Big City and trying out the whole independence deal. Now I’m 30 and still doing it. I feel quite lucky to have this ultimate freedom. I have a job, I have an apartment, an awesome dog, but there are times even now that I think people are looking at me with the “when are you going to grow up?” look. But honestly, anyone giving me that look can shove it. I have independence and it’s fantastic! I’ll wear it like a badge of honor. I worked hard for it.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

Oh, the emotional roller coaster of your 20s! That is also a real bitch of a ride. I’ve become much more emotionally stable, but it took A LOT to get there. Being a woman in general is a lot to handle emotionally. Add in real life experience and oooowweeyyy; It’s one crazy emotionally charged cocktail. Overall, I can say with confidence that I’ve grown and matured emotionally, for which I am grateful for. Again, good riddance 20s and HELLO sweet 30s. It’s like your 20s is a bed of nails that you’re trying to figure out how to get comfortable on but it comes with a lot of pokes (some of the pokes are good). But once you hit your 30s you were able to push all the nails down so you’re simply laying on an emotionally stable/comfortable bed.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I started to care more without even realizing. Awareness is a funny thing. It creeps up on you sometimes. I used to be able to tune out almost everything; now that’s an impossible feat. Sometimes I wish I still could.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

When I was cheated on by the man I was in love with but knew I shouldn’t be. We were on vacation (that I paid for) on the other side of the world. He sneaked one of the condoms that I purchased myself for us so he could sleep with her. Do I win the embarrassment prize?

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

This brings the answer to the last question into play. I was so embarrassed after this guy disrespected me. I honestly let my feelings get the best of me. I should have broken it off with this guy WELL before the “embarrassment”. I’ve never been so disappointed in myself. Not even the drug addiction in my early 20s, which I knew was so bad, was a disappointing as my poor judgment and lack of self respect when it came to this guy.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed? I guess “identity” just kind of stopped mattering. I’ve never been one to only hang out with one group of people or listen to one type of music. When it comes to who I am in society, I don’t give that much thought. It’s always been more of a self-fulfilling thing. I just want to be happy with who I am. Who I am becoming? Do I like it? Does it feel right? Yes and yes.