Last year David Brooks wrote a column about Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor's life and career, pointing out the personal sacrifices that accompanied her amazing professional journey. It's good follow-up to my post last night:
As a young woman, she earned a reputation as a fanatically driven worker, who lived on caffeine and cigarettes….
Her marriage broke up after two years. She was quoted as saying, “I cannot attribute that divorce to work, but certainly the fact that I was leaving my home at 7 and getting back at 10 o’clock was not of assistance in recognizing the problems developing in my marriage.”
Later, during a swearing-in ceremony in 1998, she referred to her then-fiancé, “The professional success I had achieved before Peter did nothing to bring me genuine personal happiness.” She addressed him, saying that he had filled “voids of emptiness that existed before you. … You have altered my life so profoundly that many of my closest friends forget just how emotionally withdrawn I was before I met you.”
That relationship ended after eight years, and her biographers paint a picture of a life now that is frantically busy, fulfilling and often aloof. “You make play dates with her months and months in advance because of her schedule,” a friend of hers told The Times….
These profiles give an authentic glimpse of a style of life that hasn’t yet been captured by a novel or a movie — the subtle blend of high-achiever successes, trade-offs and deep commitments to others. In the profiles, you see the intoxicating lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity. You see the web of mentor-mentee relationships — the courtship between the young and the middle-aged, and then the tensions as the mentees break off on their own…. You see the way people not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first.
… Sotomayor’s life also overlaps with a broader class of high achievers. You don’t succeed at that level without developing a single-minded focus, and struggling against its consequences.
(thanks to JP Adams for the pointer)
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