I’m embarrassed to write this. I’m embarrassed to put this into words and send it out to the universe.
Why am I embarrassed? …A boy of course.
At the end of last week, I was offered the job of a lifetime. It’s a game changer and will catapult my career into a new realm. I also have three other incredible job offers on the table. All but one of the four require relocation to another part of the country.
This is everything I’ve wanted and have been working towards for the past year and a half since I graduated college. I want a high-powered career. I want to be seen and heard and make a real impact. I’ve always been very career focused and serious about my future. I am determined to make something of myself in a big way.
Without sounding arrogant, I am very aware that people would kill to be in the position that I’m in. So why am I not jumping for joy? I started seeing this guy a few months ago and I really like him.
I honestly hate myself for saying this out loud or every thinking it. What is wrong with me?! I just got my golden ticket to literally the rest of my career and I’m thinking about a guy that I’ve been seeing for five minutes.
I don’t have words for myself—please feel to reach through the screen and slap me. I want to slap myself.
I would never not take this job because of him, but I can’t lie and say he didn’t cross my mind almost immediately. And that I’m not sitting here thinking,
“I finally found a guy I really like.”
“I’m going to move away for two years. Never going to find out what this could have been.”
Or, that I can’t wait to see him tomorrow because it’s been over a week, and I miss him!
I suck. This isn’t me. I’m a career woman. I’m ambitious. I don’t let anything or anyone hold me back.
So, why am I fixating on this? If he wasn’t in the picture, I wouldn’t be thinking twice about it. This job is a no brainer.
The only thing I can come up with is that while I’m a huge feminist and career-driven woman who wants the world, I am also terrified of getting caught up in the rat-race. I’m in my early twenties and while I want the career, I also don’t want to be 40 or 50 looking back on my life disappointed and sad that I didn’t focus on the right things. That I missed out on my life and experiences with the people I love because I was so focused on my career and climbing the corporate ladder. And for what?
Is professional successful fulfilling if you sacrificed the other things and people that are important along the way? Can you really have it all? I think if we’re being honest, it’s really hard to have both and feel fulfilled completely personally and professionally.
I’ve always said I want to travel and move. I want to see new places and meet new people. Now I have it all at my fingertips in a big way and truthfully, I’m scared. I’m scared to leave and chase a career path I’m not even sure I want yet.
I am scared of losing sight of what’s important. I moved around enough growing up to know what’s important are the people in your life—and my people are in Cleveland. I know I will come back to visit, but it’s not the same—you know that.
I like my life in Cleveland.
It’s safe yes. But is safe bad? Right now, Cleveland seems like the place where I can have it all. I can have the career AND the guy AND my family and friends. I’m scared if I leave I won’t have that and I’m closing the door on a lot of people I love and a true home.
It’s a lot of pressure. I’m 24 and in no way feel prepared enough to make a decision that changes the course of my life. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but it really will.
Do I really want this huge career or do I just really want to be perceived as smart and capable? Maybe what I actually want when I think about my life long term is to be surrounded by the people I love. A career and moving around might very well bring me happiness, but so might a family and a home.
I have felt particularly confused recently too because of all the women’s movements going on in the media. It’s very empowering yes – but I almost feel like if you do want to follow the more traditional path there’s a cloud of shame hovering over you saying you’re not being a good modern-day woman or you’re somehow being a bad feminist.
To further my confusion, I watched a speech recently with Tracee Ellis Ross where she explored this concept. That once you turn a certain age as a woman, if you don’t have kids or are married, society feels bad for you.
“You’re so successful and beautiful, how are you not with someone?”
“Don’t worry, women are having kids later and later now—there’s still time.”
She said something that really stuck with me. That while women are arguably more empowered to veer from the traditional path than ever before, there is still this narrow story of man + child = woman. And if you don’t achieve those things, despite all your other HUGE successes, you somehow failed or fell short as a woman and happiness for you won’t come until you’ve checked off the husband and kids box.
When I was disappointed in myself for thinking about this guy and not able to let it go, I thought well maybe that’s why. Despite everything and all my strong feminist beliefs, there is still this deep-rooted concept inside me that believes man + family = woman…= happiness. This equation just really confuses me because it wasn’t until she framed it in this way that I realized I was still following that story line and needed to snap out of it.
I’m going to take this job and go on this adventure to better myself, but I do think about this guy. And I think about my family and the close group of friends that I finally have here, and I wonder if it’s the right decision. There will always be jobs to chase and money and whatever else, but real connection with people is few and very far between. Is feeling a unexpected desire to “play it safe” really so wrong?
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Your feelings on all of these subjects are not wrong, they are very normal. There’s a couple of things you need to think about. First of all, you’re right that our culture really makes women feel they are incomplete without kids and a husband. We are made to feel like we are failures without getting a family. I can’t begin to tell you how much society pressures us to think this way.
Second, and this is really important, let’s say you do give up these opportunities to be with this guy. After only 4 months, how do you know that things will work out with him? You don’t. People always want what they can’t have. If life is pulling the two of you apart, that’s what’s making you want to be together. If that changes, all of a sudden men get cold feet. I strongly advise you not to make life decisions for someone who is not willing to do the same for you. Now if he proposed to you, that might be different. Who knows, maybe he’ll move to be close to you. When you move towards a guy, he runs away. When you move away from him he comes closer to you.
And finally, I’m a pretty strong feminist but I reject the notion that women who choose a family over a career are anti feminists or bad feminists. Good grief, we have got to stop judging each other so much! That needs to stop!