Where’d She Go?

I just got some hits on this page today after a long while, so I figured I should leave something here letting you know where I’ve gone. I’ve come out of the closet, as it were, and am now writing about a whole range of issues on a blog that bears my name: Candace Writes Here. I would love to engage with you over there, if you’re so willing.

This project is still ongoing, it’s just taken a different form. Thanks for following, and I hope to stay in touch!

The Power of Negative Thinking

First of all, apologies to anyone who is an RSS feed subscriber and got a long, very personal rumination on depression the other day. It was not meant for this blog.

But now that the cat’s out of the bag, let’s stare it down in its hissing face.

This morning, I had the honor of hearing the incomparable Donna Brazile speak at the Women’s Funding Alliance Amplify breakfast. A veteran political strategist, humorous public speaker, and savvy commentator, Brazile was inspiring – exactly the kind of woman that younger women like me can look up to. You may have seen her on CNN or ABC, where her commentary is courteous but direct, in-your-face but more of a firm caress than a slap. As a friend said of her Louisiana accent, “It’s like she opens her mouth and a whole culture comes out.”

Brazile didn’t dwell on the reasons she should not have succeeded or belabor her story with complaints about growing up poor, Black, and female. She just told her story confidently, without compromise. She made me think about how often I and the women I know have faced moments where we were pressured to compromise, and the anxiety that still brings. We know we have it in us to do a job, but somebody tells us we’re too young, too inexperienced, too feminine, not feminine enough, not wealthy enough, not educated enough, not connected enough, and for a split second, we wonder: Is it true?

How we answer that question determines everything.

In one camp, we have the pragmatists, who warn women not to be naive. I can’t help thinking of a quote from the NYT article published on September 7, “Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity“:

At an extracurricular presentation the year before, a female student asked William Boyce, a co-founder of Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, for advice for women who wanted to go into his field. “Don’t,” he laughed, according to several students present.  Male partners did not want them there, he continued, and he was doing them a favor by warning them.

It’s fair to say that pragmatism alone never leads to change.

In the second camp, we have the optimists, who tell women that they can do anything they set their minds to. Here I place projects like the documentary Girl Rising. I believe deeply in girls’ education, but at the scene of a group of Nepalese girls singing their friend out of bonded labor, I nearly walked out of the auditorium. “Change is like a song,” they said, and my mind retorted, No, change requires more than singing. It requires organization, analysis, and action. Not every person can sing her way out of slavery. And, as I learned as a grants manager, meaning well does not equal doing good. The path to hell – or, to be less melodramatic, to lost jobs, undermined causes, and ineffective program management – is paved with good intentions.

It’s fair to say that optimism alone never leads to change.

In the third camp, we have the realists. They tell us that women will sometimes be punished for speaking up. Many women who raise their hands for jobs or boards or political office will never be selected. Straight women who call themselves feminists may find that there aren’t enough enlightened men around to meet their demand. Young women who apply for jobs that demand more experience than they have may well be unqualified to perform them. Women will continue to judge other women for what they wear.

This is reality. And it’s fair to say that reality can be changed.

When the HBS deans radically revised their program to facilitate women’s success, they were very realistic. They did more than tell girls to try harder or to “lean in.” They changed the way students and teachers were evaluated. They enforced gender-sensitivity across all aspects of campus life. They even tackled deeper, thornier issues like socioeconomic inequality that were keeping HBS students from living up to their full potential. They had some successes, they learned some lessons, and – most inspiringly – they changed some lives.

They did it by being optimistic in their vision and pragmatic in its execution. They held on to their vision, but they did not let it blind them to the obstacles before them. They chased unrealistic dreams not in their imaginations, but in reality, using their influence to nudge the world in the right direction.

I worry sometimes about the message we are sending young women when we tell them to “lean in” and then, when they ask how, shrug our shoulders. I worry about women like me, who are told our whole lives that we’re amazing and can do anything, who then discover that the tools of self-promotion we were taught to use make us more enemies than friends. I worry that, rather than giving girls a solid foundation to stand on when they encounter obstacles, we are putting them in balloons and then closing our ears when, at some less adorable age, they pop. Positive thinking alone won’t save the world. But without it, no worthy effort will get off the ground. That’s the power of negative thinking.

I’m thankful to Donna Brazile, Jamie-Rose Edwards of Young Women Empowered, and of course the many people who make up the Women’s Funding Alliance for this welcome reminder that, when it comes to making real change, it is best to err on the side of optimism.

Third, some changes are coming. It’s almost time to pivot. I’m looking forward to retiring this blog and reviving it as something different, based on the balance of optimism and pragmatism I’m seeking to promote. Thanks, in the meantime, for all your support this past year.

On Anger

I shut this blog down several weeks ago in a fit of insecurity of the kind, ironically, this project is intended to prevent. Something was wrong. I just couldn’t figure out what.

Then, a friend called me out. “When it comes to your work, you have this strong, professional, empowered persona,” she said. “But you have this personal narrative of victimhood that doesn’t make sense.” That second persona is the one that began to come through on this blog. I lost my authentic voice. Instead, I became what I always dreaded: an “angry feminist,” shouting to be heard.

That doesn’t match the mission of this project or my “rising tide lifts all boats” philosophy of social change. I meant to inspire, not to criticize; I meant to highlight positive stories, not negative ones. Yet as I looked at the world through a gender lens, I found it impossible to disconnect women’s professional challenges from broader social problems. And the more I looked at those social problems, the more I realized that they had impacted my own life.

For years, I have wanted desperately to talk about my own experience. In fact, the document I wrote after I was raped in 2007 was titled exactly that: “talk about it.” I just wanted somebody to listen, and to know, and to acknowledge that I had been victimized. So before I can move on, I need to get this out of the way.


I was sixteen the first time I was assaulted. It was right after lunch, just outside the high school cafeteria. Two guys from the football team said they needed to “talk to me.” One of them, whom I’ll call Dan, had recently started seeing a friend of mine from another school. Dan was considered the hottest guy in our class, and his family lived in a fancy neighborhood near the golf course. I was a nerdy, busty church girl who lived in an old, plain house on the other side of town and had briefly dated his older brother. The previous Friday, when I overheard him saying vulgar things about my friend, I had, well, tattled. I figured the conversation would not be pleasant.

I did not figure this: Dan pushed me up against the white brick wall, next to the vending machines, and put his hand on my crotch. It wasn’t sexual. It felt more like an act of dominance. He called me a bitch and a cock-blocker. He told me I was jealous because I could never get a guy like him. He told me to stay out of his life and threatened me with a vague “or else” that most likely concerned my social life rather than my body.

I was stunned like a cow on a conveyor belt. When Dan and his friend let me go, I walked straight to my AP chemistry class and sat down at my desk in the second row. The bell had already rung. I squirmed in my seat and couldn’t focus. I was deep inside my head, the teacher’s voice a distant drone. I pulled out my bright yellow, school-issued planner and opened the student handbook pages in the front, reading closely the definitions of “threat” and “assault.” My mind was such a jumble that I could not move forward until I saw in print a near-exact description of what had happened to me. Then I ran out of the room and straight to the main office.

As soon as I started telling the counselor–a severe, angry woman all of five feet tall–what happened, I started sobbing. I am sure my words were incoherent. I had the handbook with me and kept pointing to it in the hopes that she would do something. I was a 4.0 student, involved in all kinds of extracurricular activities, and I had never been in trouble for anything–ever–not once.

Instead, she shut me down. She told me that Dan was a good student and a football player. She told me that he would never do something like that unprovoked. Instead of dealing with the issue according to the handbook, she set me up for a peer mediation. “We’re trying to resolve all conflicts this way,” she said. “It’s better for everyone.”

I agreed. Resolution seemed better than retribution. But I would only go through the mediation with Dan, not his sidekick; I did not want to be outnumbered again. Later that week, we went into a small, windowless room and sat down on either end of a long, white table. The mediator, one of Dan’s buddies from the football team, sat between us with an open notebook and led us through a list of questions. Dan explained that he was angry at me because the previous spring, I had confronted some friends of his who made a habit of torturing me for my body. They made vulgar motions toward me with breadsticks while I waited in the lunch line and drew tits under my picture in the yearbook. Eventually, I had asked a trusted teacher to intervene. That I had never filed a formal complaint hardly mattered. According to him, I needed to be put in my place.

In the end, we signed a binding document. It stated that someday, in the future, if I did as I was told, he would apologize to me. For my part, I was to step aside and avert my eyes when he passed me in the hallways. I was never to speak to him or his friends again.

Two years later, Dan and I were both awarded a scholarship for community service from the Rotary Club. The ceremony took place at the golf & country club on a sunny spring day. I gave a rambling speech about how excited I was to go to college; Dan gave a confident two-minute statement of thanks. I remember wondering, as I stood next to him on stage and shook his hand, whether I was violating the terms of our resolution.

That single, relatively minor experience changed my life forever. Maybe I was being a little shit when I told my friend I’d overheard him referring to her as a “ho.” Maybe my older-sister mindset did make me something of a “cock-blocker.” But even in my darkest, most self-hating moments, I could never fully let it go. I was angry. No matter how hard I tried to be a good citizen, I knew I would never be treated like an equal. Not even under the law.


Seven years later, I graduated from Georgetown University with my master’s degree in international affairs. I was ridiculously proud of myself. Arrogant, maybe. I never thought I would feel like I belonged at a place like Georgetown, yet there I was, graduating with every available accolade.

My parents flew into town from Seattle. I got my hair done, squeezed into my favorite little black dress, put the finishing touches on the last issue of the journal where I was editor-in-chief, and joined my classmates in Gaston Hall. I felt worthy for the first time. Finally, I was just as valuable to society as a football player–maybe even more.

That night, I went out dancing with my friends. I invited a guy I had just met. Why not? Everything else was going so perfectly. We got drunk and made out on the dance floor. He got drunker and demanded that I walk him back to his hotel. When I left, I told my friends, “I’ll be right back.”

I should never have gone to his hotel room, no matter how much he insisted. I know that. But I did. When we got there, he ripped off my dress, breaking a strap, and pushed me onto the bed. I told him unequivocally to stop. He didn’t. I tried pushing him away with my foot, but he only seemed to find that arousing. My words were as powerless as my body. He seemed to think “no” meant “I want you.” He said, “I don’t have a condom,” as if it were a half-apology. Finally, I gave up.

When it was over, he went to the bathroom and vomited. I turned onto my side, cradled myself, and stared out the window. The hotel room walls were pink; the sky outside was pitch black. It would be hard to find a cab. I watched the night in silence until I heard the toilet flush.

“You have to pack for me,” he said as he walked back into the room. “I can’t do it.” I slipped what was left of my dress back on and modestly, quietly, wandered the room in search of his things. He curled up on the bed, watching me. “In there, too,” he said, pointing toward the closet. I put his clothes in the garment bag.

“I’m so fucked for tomorrow. You really fucked me up.” You? I thought. I went to the bathroom to fill him a glass of water, set it down on the nightstand, and walked to the door.

“I’m a good girl,” I said, inexplicably, and walked out into the night.


I wandered the streets until the sun came up, considering my options. I thought about going to the hospital, but what proof did I have that this was rape and not just ill-advised drunken sex? His semen, which presumably would be scraped out of me by a strange man after three hours of waiting in some emergency room, could have got there either way. My torn dress could be evidence of violence or passion, and I wasn’t sure where others demarcated the two. My friends, who’d heard me promise to come back, had also never seen me kiss someone in public like that. Who knows what perfect strangers would think?

I called a friend, just to see how she reacted. I did not use the “r” word. I walked him home, and then he had sex with me, and I didn’t want him to, and he didn’t even use a condom. Rape was something else, something violent, right? This was some milder form of violation, a man just taking whatever he wanted. What’s that called? Maybe when I pushed him away and said no, he thought I was just being playful. How can a drunk guy know the difference? She did not know what word to use, either.

I made the choice to soldier on as if nothing had happened. My parents and I spent the day at Mount Vernon, exploring George Washington’s home and the museum. We learned about Washington’s network of Revolutionary spies and examined his false teeth. My father, a history buff, loved every moment of it. I felt smashed to the ground. My pain was a gravitational force, devouring the delight of our time together like a black hole. Several times, I ran to the bathroom to cry, splashing my face with cold water as if it could wash away the evidence.

I could not muster the courage to tell my parents. I assumed that their first question, to gauge the severity of the offense, would be to ask whether I was a virgin. I would have to confess that I was not. Then, in my imagination, whatever pride in me they had for graduating would be erased. I was afraid. They asked me what was wrong, and I could not answer. I let them fly home confused.

For weeks, I broke down at the most unpredictable intervals. I tried to fix my feelings any way I could–blasting happy-go-lucky Garth Brooks songs, going to church, even seducing someone else in the hope that it would restore the power of my consent. By the time I consulted the great adult student handbook that is the Internet and figured out that what he did really was rape, it was too late.

Besides, I did not think it was entirely his fault. Somehow he believed he was entitled to my body and had no need to seek my consent. I was dealing not with an individual criminal, but with a criminal social attitude. I tried many times to articulate my frustration, but I could never find the words.

Fortunately, someone else could. And he did.


In September 2010, Jonathan Franzen came to DC to promote his latest book, Freedom. My roommate convinced me to accompany her to the reading. About half of the nearly 1500 seats at George Washington University’s Lisner auditorium were full. We sat near the front, in the thick of the crowd.

Franzen read the excerpt in which his main female character, Patty, is raped at a party. Later, she discusses the incident with her lawyer father, who explains all the reasons why she should not report it. She’ll feel even more violated by the legal process, he tells her. Her attacker has more resources, both financial and social. A trial would ruin her father’s legal practice, her life in that town, and her own future. Here is how Patty responds:

It did seem absurd to imagine Ethan wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting in a jail cell for inflicting a harm that was mostly in her head anyway. She’d done wind sprints that hurt as bad as being raped. […] And yet: the feeling of injustice turned out to be strangely physical. Even realer, in a way, than her hurting, smelling, sweating body.


[…] “Look,” her dad said. “Honey. I know it’s tremendously unfair. I feel terrible for you. But sometimes the best thing is to just learn your lesson and make sure you never get in the same position again. To say to yourself, ‘I made a mistake, and I had some bad luck,’ and then let it. Let it, ah. Let it drop.”


He turned the ignition halfway, so that the panel lights came on. He kept his hand on the key.


“But he committed a crime,” Patty said.


“Yes, but better to, uh. Life’s not always fair, Pattycakes.”

When Franzen spoke those words out loud, I felt for the first time that someone understood my situation. On the surface, Patty’s story was different than mine, but underneath, it was exactly the same. I leaned forward in my chair and let my hair hang over my eyes, and I wept. I wept, and I wept, and I wept.

The line for the book signing was long, and I was too overwhelmed to stay, but I wanted, badly, to thank him. I suppose I am thanking him now. In writing Patty’s story, Franzen validated mine.


I know dozens of women who have been through what I went through or worse and never spoke up. Often they didn’t know how. Many times they were told not to. Usually they were afraid, with good reason, of suffering further injustice from society. No professional woman wants the words “sexual assault” to appear next to her name in Google’s search bar, especially when she’s looking for her next job. We don’t want to be defined forever as victims or, equally possible and exponentially worse, false accusers.

But if we don’t ever talk about it, we risk letting it define us anyway. In my case, the anger simply worked its way deep inside me, where it lay hidden for a long time, breaching at inconvenient times. It deepened an already dysfunctional relationship with my body and distorted my understanding of sex. Afraid that men only wanted to take advantage of me, I sabotaged a few relationships before they could even start.

Then, when I started this blog, my anger came right up to the surface. I started following all the major voices in the modern feminist space, including critically important projects like Women Under Siege that track sexual assault around the world. Unintentionally, I started to mimic the kind of vulgar, snarky, no-excuses feminist voice that is popular on sites like Jezebel (only I was never as funny). I let every conversation in my life become about gender, and I let every man become my enemy. It’s time to change that for good.

The experience of this project over the last ten months has raised several critical questions for me as an advocate for women’s rights: How can we call attention to the scale of global injustice without falling into the victimhood trap? How can we speak honestly about the past without becoming hostage to it? How can we re-shape the narrative so that advocacy is not synonymous with anger?

I don’t know, but I believe that it is possible. This resuscitation of the In My Binder blog is a start. I want to create space for other women to speak up without compromising their professional image. I want to start a chorus of voices that even the most ambitious women feel comfortable joining. I want women who are prone to think of themselves as victims instead to feel empowered to press on. I want every woman to know that whoever she is and whatever she has been through, there is someone out there who knows exactly how she feels.

I don’t expect my story to change the world, but maybe it will help one other person. Maybe it will allow me to truly hear the other side. And isn’t that, after all, exactly how the world gets changed?

Taking Advantage of Girl Power

This weekend, journalist Jessica Grose (you’ve read her on Slate/XX Factor, the New York Times, and Fast Company’s Co.Create) published a brief, sassy piece in the Times about her girly voice.

Without perhaps meaning to, her column captures one of the central dilemmas for women of her generation: How to be yourself, a woman, in an industry where womanly qualities are grounds for not taking you seriously.

She talks about how she talks. Like many young women, Jessica discovered that upspeak – that sometimes annoying way of turning a comment into a question – could turn debates into dialogues, inviting others to share their opinions even if they disagreed. It’s a very feminine way of engaging people in a media culture that typically asks commentators to stake out their ideological territory and defend it.

Jessica went to a speech coach to try to fix her problem, but in the end, she decided to keep the way of speaking that had worked for her so far, perhaps precisely because she was underestimated:

Though [upspeak] doesn’t sound authoritative, it may sound egalitarian and accepting. In an interview situation, that may cause a source to open up to me.

Many women in my binder have said the same thing. I think they, and Jessica Grose, have the right approach. Instead of going to coaches who teach us how to be more like men, we should walk through the doors that womanhood – and even being underestimated – open for us. Eventually, we will become the norm.

We, The Bloodthirsty

Read this now. It’s a brilliant, powerful, shocking piece by Italian freelance journalist Francesca Borri under the somewhat misleading title, “Woman’s Work.” She briefly addresses her gender head-on, but it’s the media establishment at large that is truly damned.

See, it’s not just Aleppo that’s “all gunpowder and testosterone.” It’s the newsrooms.

Earlier this year, I strongly considered going into journalism. I already spent a year in Afghanistan and speak one local language fluently, the other enough to break the ice. I thought perhaps I could use that to build connections and bring their stories to the world. When I started pitching story ideas to traditional outlets, I realized that my background was more interesting only if I were willing to throw my former employer under the bus or use my skills to uncover some sort of scandal. Apparently, where people put themselves at risk to do good, there’s no “story.”

I admire those who put their lives at risk, as Borri does, regularly, for almost no pay. But for every much-lauded story of a journalist (male, almost always) who grows a beard and embeds with an Afghan National Army unit or dresses up like the Taliban or rides a motorcycle across the desert, there are dozens of positive stories that are intentionally overlooked by newsrooms consumed by bloodlust, like the editor who asked Borri to live-Tweet her captivity. We need to make space for thoughtful young Afghan men and women telling their own stories. We need to make space for other truths.

My Afghan friends are frustrated by the stories foreign journalists empower. Those stories feed back into the local media and influence the way people think. If the Taliban are just going to win anyway, why should any Afghan stick around? If the only stories you read are of terror and failure, then it is hard to picture any other reality. In describing only suffering, we in fact perpetuate it.

That is not to knock what Borri and others do. Millions of people are huddled there, in that “dark, rancid corner,” begging the world to do something. Here’s one thing we can do: Instead of empowering only narratives of death and destruction, we can hold hands with a Syrian refugee, buy soccer balls from a Pakistani child, choose to read stories about people making a difference.

We can dare to live and love and speak our truth, even in a world that is “no place for a woman.”

Hard Truths about Hard Work

We all tread on thin ground when discussing the lives of others, especially lives that have been as politicized as that of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. He was a good friend to some of my good friends. I cannot lay claim to knowing him, though as a former diplomat, I allow myself to feel that I understand some things about his sacrifice.

SOFREP today published excerpts of the late Ambassador’s diary. The portrait it paints is of a committed public servant who willingly faces high stress and threats to his own security. I think it’s important to know that many of the diplomats who are serving now in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and other places feel the same way–just substitute “Kandahar” for “Benghazi” and you’ve got a line from my own diary of fourteen months ago.

Diplomacy is a career in which the whole concept of “work/life balance” can feel absurd. It’s hard to keep anything stable when you’re moving every year or so. I think of the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who died of a heart failure on December 13, 2010, and Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN diplomat who was killed on August 19, 2003 in Iraq, among others. Their struggles were different, but there is no question that their family lives suffered from their commitment to global service.

While many things are still much harder for women–a love life like de Mello’s would have been the entire story had he been a she–everyone who answers the call of duty makes enormous personal sacrifices. My former colleagues in the Foreign Service do their best to stay grounded within an increasingly chaotic lifestyle. I know that I could not have survived without spontaneous, supportive communities at post and the unyielding support of my family in the States. We all need a place to come home to.

I was hesitant to link to Ambassador Stevens’ story, only because I know that some will feel this publication is a posthumous invasion of his privacy. But if I had been him, I would want the world to know what it really meant to lead a diplomatic mission to a dangerous place. Sometimes, living your call means giving up everything. Not one of us can have it all.

Jennifer Lawrence: No Consideration of Failure

Jennifer Lawrence is not in my actual binder, but she is in my virtual one. When I first saw Lynn Hirschberg’s screen test of Lawrence, which she made in 2011 for W, I was blown away. The actress in this video has weird hair and uneven eyebrows, but you can tell that she just doesn’t care what the person behind the camera thinks. She is just being herself, telling us that she thinks she’s beautiful, no matter our criticisms. But mostly, I was struck by what she said at 1:46:

I’ve always had this really gross, dangerous mentality of no consideration of failure. Just never even considering the thought of failing. Like, if I want something, I just go until I get it.

I remember thinking, wow. That’s the only way to get things done. Otherwise, every little setback – every rejection from a role, every humiliating job we have to take to pay the bills while we nurture our passions, every time someone doesn’t love how we look or what we have to say – has the power to throw us off course. We run this risk of misinterpreting every obstacle as a “sign” that we should not be on this path, even if it is the only path that leads in the direction of our dreams.

So here’s to Jennifer Lawrence. Here’s to embracing the gross and the dangerous. And here’s to going, and going, and going until we reach our goals.

Coming Out

For professional women, writing about any aspect of one’s personal life is pretty much verboten. That is part of why I embarked on my binder project in the first place: Until more of us share our stories, the stigma will remain.

My own fears of being judged, combined with the fact that my previous employer forbade me from speaking up without the U.S. government’s permission, explain why the author of this blog has remained anonymous. But the time has now come to take the project to the next level, and that means I need to come out of hiding.

I can think of no better way to do that than with this video from new friend and social change-maker Michael B. Maine, who kindly featured me in his latest Inspiration project video. Michael is a photographer/filmmaker/media strategist with a head for smart communications and a heart for social impact. He’s the kind of person who inspired me to give up my steady, high-income job and join Seattle’s vibrant hub for social change. I can think of no better way to spend my life than by working with people like him, who have likewise decided to devote their time, talents, and treasure solely to causes they believe in.

Please forgive the shameless promotion of my book project and my friends. I mean it: I am inspired by everyone, male or female, who has chosen to live with purpose. It’s just that the women in my binder do it in such defiance of expectations that I cannot help but ask you to be inspired by them, too. Thanks, dear readers, for your support.

Positive Thoughts for the Weekend

This isn’t breaking news, but there was a lovely post on the Harvard Business Review blog network last month by the Blackstone Group’s Joan Solatar, titled “Truths for Our Daughters.”

She calls for a change to the way we talk to young women about career success, moving away from criticisms of what women have not yet achieved to narratives about those who have. As I read it, I thought, Yes — that’s exactly what In My Binder is about. 

As Solatar writes, “There is no Secret Formula X for success.” All of us have to adapt to different circumstances, and all of us bring different talents to the world. But there are some universal truths that emerge from all our narratives, including some surprising ones – like the truth that women make great warriors, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, and political leaders, not just at-home nurturers. 

That alone is powerful. Combined with the advice and shared knowledge of women across professions and generations, our stories can change the world. Especially if hearing the stories of others gives us the courage to continue living out our own. 

Have a beautiful, empowered weekend. 


The Big Picture

Three core beliefs motivate this blog and my work on women’s issues:

  1. By making the world better for women, we make it a better place for everyone. 
  2. There is no better way to make change than to make it yourself.
  3. Change only happens when people take action.

For the past several months, while continuing to work on the In My Binder book project (if less so on the blog), I have also been involving myself in the startup community and global projects such as Escape The City. I am inspired by the positive approach these people have taken to the workplace. Instead of just criticizing the status quo, they are challenging it with compelling alternative models. 

By now, “the new freelance economy” is no longer new. Forward-thinking policies such as the Affordable Care Act, even though they fall short of perfection, enable more Americans to strike out on their own. For years, I have watched with envy as my federal contractor colleagues exercised their flexibility, navigating through uncertainty without panicking, taking advantage of whatever opportunity seemed best. I was so immersed in my institutional bubble that I was slow to recognize that my experience was not unique: In the private sector, thousands of dynamos throw in the towel every year and strike out on their own.

Yes, the start-up community, like everything else professional, is still dominated by men. There are plenty of good reasons why men might be more willing to take the big risk of jumping ship: their choice is more likely to be perceived as brave, rather than manic; their skills tend to be more highly valued in the marketplace; they know that they will always be perceived as the breadwinner and therefore entitled to fair compensation. But there are also a number of incredibly inspiring women who’ve made the leap. They’re not leaning out; they’re just leaning in another direction.

I am now following in their footsteps. Leaving a tenured, well-compensated FTE position without independent wealth seems crazy to a lot of people, but I know that I can do more professionally and have a happier personal life outside of an institution that undervalues my work. It’s a little bit forceful – I am basically asking the economy to work around my priorities instead of accepting things as they are. But isn’t that precisely how change is made? 

Henceforth, you’ll see some changes to this site as well. Stay tuned.