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I am a recovering Superwoman wannabee

People don't overclock well, says Phoummala Schmitt

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Women like me overcompensate for our fears by working harder, pushing more and more. Whether these fears are only perceived or have some truth to them, they are still valid for the women facing them. So valid that often times we take things too far and forget about work-life balance and ourselves. We become obsessed over our jobs, working long hours, always being available, making sure that nothing goes wrong, all of this to prevent the fears from happening.

After my surgery I came across Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In. I realized that it's great that I am ambitious and want to achieve more with my career but that I also need to create balance.

Sandberg said it best: "Trying to do it all and expecting that it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointments. Perfection is the enemy". I was trying to be perfect in all aspects of my life; career, family and in the end it consumed me.

Reading her book opened my eyes to the fact many women have the same fears I did and set me at ease. I realized that it was OK for me to lean back and take some time for myself and family. Just because you want to achieve greatness doesn't mean you can't take a break.

This is easier said than done, but slowly I'm becoming a "Recovering Superwoman Wannabe". I'm not staying at the office until 8pm then pulling all nighters at home. Well, not every night. I still check my emails often (I think that's the nature of the beast of the industry I am in), but I do take more quality time for myself and family. The time spent with my family is focused on them instead of being half there and half doing work. Giving the kids my full attention is the way I can be a "super" mom to them.

As for my "fears", those are challenges that I am working on overcoming not only personally but also professionally. There are many books and seminars out there to champion women in the workplace and improve their communication skills, but the real issue isn't just about women. It's the workplace interactions between women and men. Men and women think differently because we are different, and when this happens, often there are misunderstandings and misconceptions.

In order for women to feel completely on an equal playing field, not only do we need to understand how to work with men, but men also need to understand the women they work with. This needs to be a two-way street, otherwise it will be a vicious cycle of he said / she said. I know I can't change the world but if I can influence change and make a difference that will suffice.

Superwoman is a fake, she doesn't exist. Trust me, I've tried to meet her, even tried to become her. As women working in tech, we have challenges and stereotypes to overcome, whether perceived or real. We try to do it all: raise the family and play the career game. The truth is Superwoman is a myth, she is not real, and you can't do it all perfectly. ®

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