Welcome to my new interview series featuring some of the brightest and most hard-working women I know. My goal for this series is to collect stories from women in all levels of their career. The hope is that their journey and their advice will trigger something in you, and help you take the jump you need to achieve your personal level of success. Whether they are freelancers, founders of their own business, corporate employees, or students, this #LadiesWhoHustle series will showcase their unique talents and help you unveil yours.
I'm really excited to have you all learn more about this lady who's career I've followed for quite some time. Lara Parker is a senior editor at BuzzFeed, and has been there for the last five years. She's currently working on her first book - Vagina Problems - which will be released in 2020 (and I hope all of you run out and grab a copy!). The book is about her experience living with endometriosis and other pelvic floor conditions that cause chronic pain, and painful sex, among other things. A lot of the content she creates is surrounding these topics.
So sit back, relax, and let's dive deep into Lara's career to date.
Senior editor at BuzzFeed.
Why do you do what you do?
I use my platform to speak openly and honestly about living with Vagina Problems because I think it's absolutely necessary for the taboo to be broken. Too many people suffer silently - whether that's because their doctors don't believe them or because there is such shame and embarrassment associated with these illnesses - and my goal is to get us to a point where talking about painful sex or horrendous periods is just part of the course and can be done in the same way people discuss migraines.
What was your dream job at 10 years old?
I wanted to be a marine biologist which is kind of funny because, like have you SEEN the ocean? That shit is terrifying. I'm barely even able to get in waist-deep these days.
If you could have anyone's job, who's job would you choose?
Donald Trump's - not because I want to be president, think of myself as qualified, or have any interest in being involved in politics in any way, shape, or form - because he's an imbecile and I'd do my best to rectify the massive amounts of damage he's already inflicted.
What is the one thing people outside of your industry get wrong about your job?
It's kind of a laughing joke now for people to suggest that all BuzzFeed is is just "lists and quizzes". That is a fundamental misunderstanding of what we do and the ways in which we are able to connect and relate to millions of people each day. Sure, a quiz may not be changing the damn world, but if it gives someone some entertainment for five minutes, I think that's something to be proud of. It's much more than just writing lists - it's finding ways to make people from all over the world feel like they relate to you, or what you've written, in some way. That's no small feat.
That's very true, BuzzFeed has such a wide range of readers from all over the world, it can be very difficult to find a way to connect with them all. Let's discuss goals, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I'd like to see a couple of books under my belt, perhaps half living in Australia - and I see myself bringing up my vagina problems and having every single person in the room look at me with a sense of understanding because then that will mean I have done my job and educated the masses.
That's a great goal to have! Can you tell us about your biggest career struggle so far?
I live with daily chronic pain. It's been extremely difficult at times to figure out how to balance the very real needs of my illnesses while also wanting to succeed and put in the time to succeed in my industry.
And what about your biggest career win?
Being able to sell a book to a publisher about my VAGINA.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
Don't think of yourself as being lucky to work at a certain company or be able to write for a certain website - whatever it may be. Think of them being lucky that you have them your voice and talent.
I love that! Have you received any bad advice in your career?
The idea that you have to be a workaholic to succeed. You do not. Work/life balance is a real and very necessary thing and if you can't get your job done in 8 hours a day, you're doing something wrong.
I completely agree. Work/life balance is extremely important for mental health and for growth. Can you tell us what you are most proud of?
Being able to contribute in some way to the ongoing movement within the endometriosis community to make sure our voices are heard.
Who motivates you the most?
I feel like I go back to my illnesses a lot but - the endometriosis community is so motivating. We're all suffering so much day in and day out and not just physically, yet we all show up to get the work done.
It's amazing to hear you have such a supportive community behind you! What advice would you give for someone looking for a career in your field?
Be persistent, but also know your worth.
When do you feel the most confident?
I feel the most confident through writing. It's the best way I have to express myself and it feels that it is then that I can explain how I am truly feeling in my head in a way that other people will understand.
And finally, how do you relax?
I smoke weed and watch Below Deck. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Currently coveting: More cannabis products directly aimed at people with pelvic pain - people with PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, etc. GIVE US WHAT WE DESERVE.
Favourite way to sweat: Hot yoga. It's great because even if you literally just lay there, you'll still sweat. That's my favourite kind of workout.
Favourite book: I fucking LOVE the "Throne of Glass" series by Sarah J. Maas. Also "12 Steps to Normal" by Farrah Penn. YA BOOKS FOREVER!!!
Morning bird or night owl? MORNING PERSON. I routinely wake up at 6 am by CHOICE.
Favourite '90s jam: "The Boy is Mine" - Brandy
Favourite city: WOW this is hard. Might have to go with Vancouver.
Spirit animal: Patronus*** - and it's a snow leopard with a long-ass fluffy fucking tail.
Get in touch with Lara!
Facebook: Lara Parker
Know anyone that would be great to feature in the #LadiesWhoHustle series? Connect with me on Instagram to nominate them - or yourself!