CHAPTER ELEVENCrossing the Divide

Each year, Claire Cheff has a reunion with friends from her graduating class at Dartmouth. One is a nationally recognized pediatrician. Another is a leading science journalist. She loves her friends, but Claire often came home from these reunions questioning her life's path.

Claire's mother is a feminist with a PhD from Stanford, and her father a leading doctor in Salt Lake City. After graduating from college with high honors, winning a creative writing fellowship and admittance to the University of Montana's law school, Claire had visions of working on civil rights and changing the world's unfair systems.

Now, here she was with a husband, two kids, a small business in Montana, and a job as a public school teacher that was increasingly necessary to keep it all going. After years of being a high‐achieving person, surrounded and influenced by the achievement‐oriented culture of the Ivy League and the social pressures that go along with that culture, she was trying to unlearn those metrics of success. “If I compared myself to my Dartmouth friends, I felt very inadequate based on those standards. I was a public school teacher. I hadn't written books. I wasn't making six figures,” she wrote later.i

The morning of her 40th birthday, she stood in the shower with tears running down her face. “Here I am, this 40‐year‐old woman,” she thought. Her life wasn't what she'd imagined it would be. No one was telling her that she failed to measure up, but she ...

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