In Doree Shafrir’s new memoir, Thanks for Waiting, she helps redefine what it means to be a late bloomer. Thanks For Waiting takes us on the journey with Doree as she “comes of age,” yet maybe not at the age society expects. We see Doree through many career shifts, from interning at 29 to a complete move across the country, dating from in-person to the internet, to her struggles with infertility. We spoke with Doree last week prior to the release of her book to ask some questions and find out how it felt to get so raw and real, and why she hopes this book can help others be ok with being a late bloomer too.
Why did you want to tell this story now?
I’ve started to get feedback from people that have read the book, and I am hearing that people really feel seen in a way they might not in other forms of media and that is really gratifying. Because as an author that’s all you really want. Not that everything has to be relatable, but you want people to be able to understand you and then maybe be able to understand something more about themselves. I hope my memoir does that.
Your book’s full title is Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer. What does the term Late Bloomer really mean to you?
That’s something I thought about a lot while writing this book — the term Late Bloomer. Late in relation to what? That’s the whole thing. Even using that term is still defining ourselves in the context of these people that are doing it “on time.” So, I use that term for lack of a better term. I hope part of the takeaway of the book is that you bloom whenever is the right time for you. So, it could be late in relation to your sister who gets married at 27, but for you this is when things came together. We’ve been so conditioned as things needing to happen on a certain timeline, and I think that’s where the term comes from and now gets a little tricky.
In the book, you take us through your journey of dating, to eventually meeting your now husband, Matt, through your struggles with infertility. At 41, you finally had your son, Henry, but you do mention in the book looking into freezing your eggs years prior, which you ultimately did not. Walk us through that decision.
This was about 10 years ago at this time when people were only just starting to talk about freezing their eggs. I remember there was a CNN story, where people were like “Oh, this is really happening.” So, I decided to look into it. I felt like there was a stigma, it for sure was not talked about the way it was now. I didn’t know anyone that had done it, whereas now I feel like If you’re in your early 30s, half your friends have done it or are about to do it. I went to the doctor. I kind of got far down the path, and then I got cold feet. I got freaked out by the hormones, the shots, by the money. I didn’t have the money. And then I eventually moved to LA, and didn’t do it, thinking well, if I ever have trouble getting pregnant, there will be medical intervention that can take care of it.
The book takes us through many jobs in journalism, from the Observer, Gawker, Rolling Stone, finally to Buzzfeed. At Buzzfeed, you become pretty high up in management, but eventually decide to leave, venturing out to start a podcast, Forever35, and be a freelance writer. How were you able to let go of what you had believed was the goal for so long?
I had this realization that this thing that I had been conditioned to want, the big promotion, the big job, the big title, actually I’m pretty unhappy doing it. And I’m not good at it. I don’t want to be a people manager. That’s not why I got into journalism. And when you’re lower on the masthead, you look at those jobs and think that’s where I want to be, but those jobs aren’t for everyone. I think I was really lucky to be able to define my own career path. But it was definitely a struggle because I had to reconcile this idea that this job that was supposed to be a dream job, was not a dream job – for me.
What advice do you have for someone else who is questioning their path?
Don’t be afraid to take new opportunities, because you never know what’s going to click for you. If you told me 10 years ago that I would be podcasting full time, and writing, but that podcasting would be my main job, I would have been like what are you talking about? Being open to new things, especially in journalism, is very important. Think about what you love, what fulfills you, and what you’re good at. And then think how you can make a career out of that and advance in your career and continue in your career. And there might be some people that are great at managing and leading, but if you’re an amazing reporter and that’s what you love doing, keep doing that.
The book doesn’t end with a bow neatly tying everything up, although you did get your wonderful husband, and you did have your son. Why did you choose to share so much about the realities of post-partum life?
Life is messy. Things are complicated. That was one of the things I really wanted to write about with Henry [her son] too, this idea that I didn’t have this instant bond with him, and I was like, “Is something wrong with me. Am I a monster?” And I think there is always going to be something. I’m not trying to say your dreams will always have some kind of wrinkle to them, but everything is always complicated and how do you navigate those complications. I wanted the book to end on a hopeful note, and a note on I am much more secure and I am much more comfortable than I ever was before, but this is what got me to this place. I don’t know what the future is going to bring, but I’m hopeful that everything I’ve gone through will deal with whatever challenges come up later.
Doree Shafrir is the author of the novel Startup and the cohost of the podcasts Forever35 and Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure. She lives in Los Angeles with her family. (Photo Credit: Joanna DeGeneres)