But it seems that her preferred option would be to marry and have a family.
Her explanation of why she resigned from her job is interesting:
There’s never a good time to tell your boss that you find baking more interesting that PowerPoint; that the WI holds more of an appeal than a networking conference and that the very thought of still doggedly working your way up the career ladder for the next 25 years fills you full of cold terror, is there?
...It is ironic that in this most-feminist age of egalitarian opportunity I feel guilty for admitting what I really want in life: a husband, a family, and the space to enjoy them.
And there's the tricky dilemma - you can pursue your career with determination and achieve those goals, but will that make you happy?
If, on the other hand as I do, you believe that 'life goals' (of the husband/children variety) are what you really want in the future, how do you aim for them?
It is a fine line, juggling the balance between maintaining plan B (the career) whilst allowing for the possibility, or encouraging, plan A (the life).
The effort of sustaining plan B (career) was difficult to combine with the pursuit of plan A (husband/children).
She has followed a typical pattern of leaving family formation to her 30s:
And yet is it only now, in our 30s that we are feeling ‘different’ to our male compatriots; feeling a different pull and different priorities emerging; feeling that our paths are not so straight and true as our male friends and colleagues; feeling the worry, as we stare out from behind our suited desks as another friend embraces her new role as ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ – has that boat sailed?
I'm not sure how the landmine clearing option is going to help with the husband/children aim. She recognises herself that it can be defeminising:
Men on the other hand are invariably fascinated, green with envy at the idea of blowing stuff up...as the testosterone rises their perception of me shifts and I can see myself morphing from 'woman' to 'mate'. I may be sitting in a bar wearing a dress, I may even have scrubbed up and be wearing perfume and make-up, but my job confers honorary man status on me. And that just isn't sexy.
Indeed, I find myself going to some lengths to preserve my sense of self as a woman. My toenails are always painted, I've found a local waxist, I wear subtle earrings with my uniform as a badge of pride. I carry perfume in my rucksack - and I'm not afraid to use it. I don a dress at every opportunity. My duty-free make-up collection is bigger than it ever was in my corporate world, and Saturday night application has taken on a certain reverence. But I still struggle to feel feminine.
She then goes on to explain how for years she has experienced an "internal battle" over her femininity. On the one hand she has seen feminine traits as a weakness, on the other hand they make her feel true to herself:
I'd been aware of this rumbling undercurrent for some months, but I only really realised when I was in London in January. I was standing next to the Swede, looking in a mirror ... and it just struck me, I felt powerfully Female. Next to his height, his solidity and his strength I just felt different. Smaller, gentler, softer. And it was lovely. I felt like Me. I had license to ask for help and admit vulnerability, to just Be A Girl.
Isn't it strange, this peculiar internal battle I seem to have been living with for years, challenging aspects of my absolute identity. I don't really understand why I've subconsciously viewed my more feminine traits as weaknesses. Flaws to be crushed or ignored, when in fact they are parts of my character as a woman that I need to open up to.
I'll try to give an example without blithering too much, here is a paradox:
On the one hand, I find myself viewing vulnerability as a weakness and something to be stifled or hidden. It is 'girlie' and therefore something to look down on or rise above.
On the other hand, I am a girl, and I want to take the female role in a relationship dynamic. I want to be the feminine yin to masculine yang - and to feel cared for and looked after. If I am unwilling to acknowledge vulnerability when I find it, then what role is there for a man to feel that his help and support is needed in my life?
It is easy to try to do everything and be self sufficient. But the problem is in that expression. If I am overtly 'self sufficient' then maybe I shouldn't be surprised if there doesn't appear to be emotional room for someone else?
I could be over analysing, but I have a feeling that I'm edging towards (and I hate this expression) 'finding myself'. I just don't know why its taken so bloody long and a dramatic life change to get here!
It's my belief that this "internal battle" is a very common one amongst women - and that it does play a role in confusing the relationship dynamic between men and women.
Note too what she writes about feeling connected to her feminine essence: she writes "I felt like Me". I think the same applies to men who connect strongly to their masculine being - it creates a sense of being who you are meant to be.