Taking Control

Karen Wagner & Erica Baird

Today, just like yesterday, we are smart, energetic, interested, engaged, stylish, collegial, problem-solving women. The only difference is that today, after almost four decades of working full time, we retired. We now have the freedom to spend our days as we wish. So what’s the problem? Why doesn’t that feel like enough?

For starters, we liked having an office, business cards, scheduled calls and meetings and even leftover to do’s from the days or weeks before. We liked having colleagues and a support staff and having a reason to get dressed up. We liked saying things like “I am a partner” — emphasis on “am.” Overnight, all that vanished. Just like that. We shouldn’t have been surprised, but we were.

Our colleagues and friends congratulated us, and many expressed envy at our good fortune. But we were uneasy. One day, we were highly sought after, even powerful, lawyers. The next, we were — what? Did we no longer have value? Not knowing exactly what was next, we were both anxious and scared.

We realized we were both feeling the same thing and decided to face it together. We recalled that when we started our careers, we were part of a new cohort of professional women that were making their way in a man’s world, largely without role models. We looked around and were surprised to find that, once again, we couldn’t find role models.

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