Coping with loss of ego
Updated: Mar 16
Many people in life go through career changes and in many instances that involves either putting your ego first or letting it take a back seat for a while. Putting aside your ego to do what is right for yourself or your family is never an easy thing to do, even if you aren't an ego driven person but it is an issue that, from what I have observed, occurs more commonly for women.
Whilst stereotypes are changing all around the world and expectations are shifting on parental roles, many women still carry a biological urge, which is greater than most men's, to be the primary carer for the child they gave birth to. There are some women who manage this incredibly well while sustaining a career and not sending themselves completely crazy but this is not the norm.
There was a big movement in the 80's and 90's for women to have it all. Have the family, have the career, but many will admit it comes at a cost. Something always loses out, and this is even more true if you have a child who is unwell or has a disability. I still find to this day that if a woman chooses family over career or even vice versa, she cops a huge amount of judgement. It honestly doesn't matter what you choose, someone out there will be judging you so it's about making the right choice for you and your family and probably realising you can't have it all unless your partner is going to make a sacrifice and give up their ego. If not, then it will land on you.
This is where the ego part comes in. You work so hard to build a career and then decide to have a family. You go on maternity leave, come back part time (or sometimes not at all) and this sets you back for promotions, grants, awards, whatever it might be. You haven't been there for a year and then working part time, you can't possibly achieve what someone working full time does, so why would you get promoted above the person who was there the whole time and working full time. Your career takes a back seat and so does your ego.
My career took a back seat before I started a family for other reasons and feels like a distant memory to me now but I remember the deep feeling of loss. I had studied for years then worked hard, sometime ridiculous hours to be the best at what I was doing for it suddenly to just be gone. It left a huge hole in my life and a deep feeling of loss. Honestly the only thing that helped me get over it and to let go of my ego was time. I loved my job and I was good at it, so there was a deep grief process but I started to build a new identity.
Starting a family has changed everything for me again. My son has become my main focus, he was born perfectly imperfect and I love him all the more for it, but it has it's own set of challenges that have led me to put him before myself since the day he was born. Some might argue that it's not healthy, but I've done what I needed to for my family. I will never say it has been easy and I'm not sure my poor, bruised ego will ever fully recover but I have learnt to live with that. There are more important things in life than being the most successful at what you do, so long as what you choose is right for you and the people you love then you can recover from the loss.