Using My Fear To Find My Courage

March 21, 2023

At Paylocity, I have found a space to be the kind of example, individual, and mother that makes useful contributions in both my home-life and my work-life.

Blog Post
Kara O Donoghue Headshot

By: Kara O Donoghue

Talent Acquisition Partner, Paylocity

March is Women's History Month, a time to commemorate and celebrate the impactful contributions of women in American history. The notable figures that come to my mind are Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, and Amelia Earhart. These women made incredible strides and have left a lasting imprint by pushing the boundaries and utilizing their voices and platforms for change.

#WomensHistoryMonth is bigger than a month. The contributions that women have made and continue to make aren’t limited to a month, an industry, or an age. One of the ways Paylocity strives to empower and uplift women – and to continue to be deserving of our status as a Forbes Best Employer for Women – is through PCTY SHEroes, an Employee Resource Group with the mission of helping the women at Paylocity to connect, develop, and support one another. I’m looking forward to celebrating and learning through the various events happening all month long. #joinPaylocity #WomensHistoryMonth #forwardtogether #PCTYSHEroes

The impact of this group became more noticeable last year as my “boy mom” status was defunct when my husband and I became parents to our first baby girl, our very own tiny SHEro (who I know will make HERstory one day!). She’s already trailblazing her own path as she made her debut three weeks early under the full moon in October which just so happened to be on my birthday, which is now her birthday (yay birthday twins!). Our little lady, Maeve Arnette, is named after one of the most notable and influential woman figures in my life, my mother. My mom is my rock, my most steady source of encouragement, guidance, and love. I can only strive to be half the mother she is and has been to my sister and me.

“Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual; you have an obligation to be one. You cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this.”

- Eleanor Roosevelt

When I went through the interview process for the role that I currently hold here at Paylocity, I remember being asked what motivates me. Without hesitation, I replied, “To be the best example I can be for my boys.” Family is my #1 priority and here at Paylocity, I have found a space to be the kind of example, individual, and mother that makes useful contributions in both my home-life and my work-life. I strive to show my children what a hardworking, empathetic, compassionate, resourceful, and resilient woman looks like. Now that we’ve been blessed with a daughter, it’s even more important for me to be all those things and more for her too. She needs to see how capable and strong a woman can be.

I found my ideal work environment; one that fosters my professional development and personal growth as a working mother simultaneously. The strong foundation of support I received made it easier for me to plan and handle my parental leave and then come back to work smoothly.

“If you want to change the world. Go home and love your family.”

- Mother Teresa

My parental leave benefits and coverage allowed me to “go home and love my family.” Even though parental leave is by no means a vacation, it was such a special time that I will always cherish.

In addition to taking short term disability after the birth of my daughter, Paylocity employees also receive Paid Parental Leave. It gives a new parent time to bond with their new family member.

Employees working at Paylocity receive the following after the birth or adoption of a child:

  • 100% pay for 6 weeks for employees with 1+ year of service
  • 100% pay for 3 weeks for employees with less than 1 year of service

This policy gave my family and I peace of mind and afforded us the time to focus on what matters most, welcoming and adjusting to everything that comes along with bringing a new soul into our lives.

From telling my leadership of my pregnancy and coordinating everything with our internal HR (Human Resources) team, to then working with our leave of absence provider, I felt informed and supported every step of the way. My leadership team gets it; they are working parents themselves, so they have been in the thick of it, too, and understand what it means to juggle family life with a career. They have shown me incredible encouragement and support as I’ve returned to work and helped calm my anxiety and worry about managing it all. “You’ve got this!” “I’m here if you need me.” “Take it one day at a time.” These were just some of the phrases I heard from leadership and my colleagues. Their words of encouragement paired with a healthy schedule of pivoting between work life and home life, has helped me maintain balance as a working mother.

“I'm interested in women's health because I'm a woman. I'd be a darn fool not to be on my own side.”

- Maya Angelou

As a mother of three, I’ve had three vastly different pregnancy experiences and postpartum experiences. After the birth of my second son, who was born during the height of the pandemic, I dealt with postpartum depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts. Even with all the love and support of my family, I sought help from a therapist to dive deeper into what I was going through. I am a firm believer in talk therapy as it’s helped equip me with the tools and guidance to work through difficult situations. Once I got pregnant with my daughter, I made a promise to myself that I would start therapy sooner if my mental health was being threatened.

Caring for and advocating for your mental health, especially as a mother navigating the postpartum period, is something that I am extremely passionate about. To be able to care for others, you must first care for yourself, mind, body, and spirit. As a Mental Health Champion here at PCTY, yet another one of our amazing ERG’s that I am a part of, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to mention a little of my own recent mental health journey. Another resource that I’ve utilized since returning from parental leave is a part of our Employee Assistance Program which offers mental health counseling through the BetterHelp app. I knew that I wanted to speak to a professional about the challenges that I was now facing as a working mother of three. I filled out a quick form and was sent information regarding how to get myself set up on BetterHelp. I was paired with my therapist and was able to schedule my first session with her with just a few easy clicks on the app. After my first session I instantly knew that this therapist would be a good fit for me and decided to book my next session with her. I was able to use up my three free of charge sessions and given the option to continue my therapy at very affordable pricing.

“Use your fear. It can take you to the place where you store your courage.”

- Amelia Earhart

To anyone that is reading this, if you are struggling, please consider reaching out to a professional to talk through what’s going on. Prioritizing your mental health will help everything else fall into place; at least that’s been my experience. You will only regret not reaching out for help sooner. I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression throughout my life, and I’ve had to pull myself out of those valleys that you may feel stuck in. It takes work but the light is always there if you just have the courage to seek it.

I’m thankful that I get the chance to choose who I want to be every day, that I get to go home and love my family, that I am able to use my voice to empower other women, and that with a little bit of work I can transform my fear into the untapped courage lying just beneath the surface.

To Eleanor, Maya, Mother Teresa, Amelia…to my mom and to Maeve…and to YOU…Happy Women’s History Month!