You know, men never face this dilemma. They don’t debate about whether they should give up opportunity or stay with the woman of their dreams.
They just take the job.
Women, on the other hand, will face this agonizing predicament at least once in their lifetime. Move away from the boyfriend to pursue the career I have been dreaming of? Or stay behind, stick by his side, and possibly have a life of marital bliss?
I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I had to choose a man or my career.
Recently I had to ask myself this question, and the process of elimination was truly hair pulling, nail biting, tear strewn torture.
When I was younger, I always told myself I was going to become an executive of some awesome company and be an international business woman. I was going to succeed, and I wasn’t going to let any man get in my way. Hell, who needs to get married? I thought. Do I even want kids?
All I knew was one thing:
I’m going to throw all men to the curb to get where I want to be.
And that’s exactly what I did. Instead of wait for my boyfriend in high school to finish his community college, I left him in order to pursue my bachelors degree in another city.
My boyfriend in Japan proposed, asked me to live with him in Tokyo, and wished to start a family together in Japan (he was Korean). He had his perfect life, and he thought he had the perfect woman to complete it.
Me? I wanted to go to China, so I said sorry, goodbye and went to Shanghai.
Needless to say this situation happened again, and again, and again.
And it just happened again. I was offered my dream job in DC, but my new boyfriend is in Los Angeles.
As women, we have a lot to worry about when we reach our mid to late twenties (and heaven forbid, our thirties). Unlike men, we have a ticking time bomb that determines our eligibility for marriage and kids. The older we get, the harder it becomes to snag a good man (they are either taken already, or pass us by for the younger crowd). Plus, there’s an unsaid time limit on starting a family, especially since the risk of child birth defects increases substantially after 35.
After college (which is 22 or 23, give or take) we only have a short window of time (23-30) to find a suitable partner, build a stable career, and (god willing) have a family. Trying to make all three things work within this short time frame is damn near impossible, and sometimes the pressure to make it all happen can be overwhelming for a woman.
In order to have a successful career and a fulfilling life, I put the good man and family part of my life on the back burner to pursue exciting adventures abroad.
Yet this time, the thought of doing it one more time (and giving up this particular person) was almost too much to bear.
So.. should you do it? Choose a man over your career?
In life, there are two kinds of people: Those that value career, and those that value personal happiness. You cannot equally value both. At one point or another you’re going to have to choose.
Stay at home with your kids, or go to the office and rise up in the ranks?
Stay overtime at work to get that promotion, or spend your anniversary with your wife?
Work 7 days a week 365 days a year to make that start up succeed, or find a lower paying job with more holiday time to go traveling?
So first of all, decide what kind of person you want to be in the future. If you really want to succeed, become that CEO, and make tons of money—you’re going to have to sacrifice almost everything to do it (including your significant other). Or, you can turn down that promotion in order to stay home with your loved one, nurture your relationship and find meaning to life in something other than career.
In a relationship, sacrifice and compromise are a necessity. Whether it’s you or your partner, one of you is going to have to give up something vital to prove your love and companionship. It is a very rare occurrence when both partners have career conditions that work out in equal favor. One of you will have to relocate, one of you will have to put grad school on hold, one of you will have to fund the other to achieve their dreams—the situations are endless.
Unfortunately, it’s usually the woman that has to make the sacrifice and compromise.
For the first time ever in my life, I’m giving love a shot. I said no to DC and planted my feet in LA (I even bought a new car to prove it).
The more I traveled, the more people I met, and the more I matured into an adult–the more I discovered myself.
I realized I’m not the kind of person that wants to have 100 hour work weeks, start a company, and be recognized for a product. I don’t need mountains of money to be happy. Sure, being financially comfortable and not having to worry about how I’ll afford the rent would be nice, but I don’t need multimillionaire status to be content with my life.
I didn’t want to become many of the people I met in Shanghai that blew, literally, thousands of dollars in one night at a bar on the bund or a five star hotel, only to return to an empty home and hollow existence. I didn’t want to be that single, 45+ year old executive that sacrificed so much for her wealth and career that—at 50—she had nothing to show for it other than dinners spent alone.
Yet, everyone is different.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
In this world of Facebook, Google+, Twitter and social media, it’s hard not to be influenced by other people’s “way.” Should I get married and have 4 kids like my friend Sally? Why am I not a hot shot engineer at Google like my friend Tim?
Do yourself a favor and stop looking at all of that garbage for a good month. Focus on yourself. Your life. What YOU want to do.
Then, you’ll know what your heart has been telling you all along.
Career? A man? A high paying job with status? An enriched personal life?
Maybe in the past it was my dream to have an office at the top of a high rise, but now I dream of traveling to exotic beaches, rainforests, cities and ruins.
But instead of doing it alone, I hope to do it with that someone special in my life.
So goodbye DC, and hello LA.