The world is changing. And it may even be changing fast enough to get there ahead of me. Some parts, anyway -- the other parts I'll have to help build and change still, but the option of the ability to take some things for granted - temporarily, sometimes - and not have to work on them and fight with them and push against certain boundaries all the time will give me more energy and bandwidth to work on and fight with and push against others. In any case, there's going to be plenty of paying-it-forward -- if not in this format, then in others.
In case the link goes down -- that points to a "dear colleague" letter from the NSF about work-life balance, supporting researchers who want to have great careers and sane family lives (both male and female, but women have historically gotten the short end of the stick in that department). So maybe I won't need to make as many tradeoffs as my younger self thought I would; maybe the opportunity cost won't be as high as I feared.
It's not a binary! I've been learning that it's not a binary. I've been learning that there are people who don't want me to have it as a binary. It's sort of weird to be writing this sentence, because my gameplan is still predicated upon being a genetic dead-end, but if that changes and some sort of future half-clone version of myself ends up reading this -- (1) I'm sorry about the genetic predispositions to orthodontia, distractability/hyperactivity, and nearsightedness, and (2) these sorts of "let's change society!" programs were a huge part of the reasons that allowed you to exist in the first place, so if you want our genetic and intellectual lineage to continue, you'd better make sure they keep happening. (And clean your room, and eat your vegetables, and if you want an upgrade to first class on our next transcontinental flight you can pay for it yourself, k? Frequent flyer miles don't grow on trees.)
It's a crazy feeling, this discovery that far more of the world is malleable and hackable than you'd originally thought. The things you were afraid would pen you in end up having the potential to give you more freedom instead.