Should You Choose a Man or Career?
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.
12 thoughts on “Should You Choose a Man or Career?”
You took a brave decision. I think it is not about choosing between your career or between your happiness, as for some people career seems to be happiness. If in this particular situation, your heart told you to go to LA instead of accepting the job in DC, then that was the right decision 🙂
But I think sometimes women are pushed into the “choose family” option. We are (or at least I am) constantly bombed with pictures of babies and children, friends that already had kids saying that “it’s the best that ever happened to them”, and Chinese people even tell me I need to hurry up and have a baby. I am not sure if I will ever want to have children. I have never liked children. Does that make me less of a woman? 🙂
Thank you for your very kind words! I guess the problem is determining what will make you happy–having an awesome career, a family–some people might even be happy just deep sea diving and exploring islands forever and ever..!! Everyone is different, but I think in today’s society (especially in the USA), most people think that a successful career equals happiness.. but that definitely isn’t the case.
I bet being in China complete, random strangers tell you to have babies 😉 It’s just the Chinese way (are the in-laws giving you a hard time yet!?). Anyway, there’s been many studies that prove that having children does not make you happier. Couples without kids are just as (or happier) than those without them. Everyone is different.
I don’t know if I want kids either, but it just sucks to have a “time limit,” per se(best to have kids before 35-40). I’m with you–I definitely don’t want kids right now, but it’s hard to know if I might want them someday.
No, it doesn’t make you less of a woman! I respect you even more! I have a friend that said the only kids she will have are dogs 😛 haha
Haha! I don’t want to categorically say no to children, as I might change my mind in a few years. That happened to a friend, she passed from hating children to desperatelly wanting to have one in a lapse of like 2 months! She said her maternal instinct suddenly appeared, haha.
My in laws have not said anything yet! They are very nice haha. But the rest of the people… two days ago a security guard from our compound told me to have kids and buy an apartment soon… and my colleagues are desperate to see our mixed blood babies…
Sounds about right, haha. Are you two married now or not yet? Yeah, and pop out those hunxue babies 😉
Nah, not married yet and not in a hurry 😀
I don’t have that much to say except that I agree with this post 100%. But I also think that — like you — that decision and choice isn’t always going to be the same. Obviously those previous men weren’t enough or right or at the right time/place for you to not choose what only *you* wanted, for yourself, and this time it seems it is. So I think it’s one of those “depends…” situations, but I hate that it usually falls on the woman to make the sacrifice.
Hi Amanda, thanks for the comment!
I agree with you. I had a friend that said, “sometimes it’s not about finding mr. right… it’s about finding mr. right at the right time.”
I think it’s not only compatibility that determines our partner, but also circumstances and timing. Still, I believe at the base of it all the man and who he is is ultimately the deciding factor. Although I can admit that timing and circumstance tore my past relationships apart, I still think that they were, essentially, not the right person for me.
It’s one reason I chose to put the quote form Nietzche in there. Everyone has their own way, and I guess what I did was ‘my own way.’
I have met a lot of men that sacrificed their career or put it on hold in order for their wife or girlfriend to succeed in life, but I don’t think this happens as much as the opposite. This can also be blamed on our society where the man is typically seen as ‘the breadwinner’ and overall financial support of the household (thus, he should focus on career and not the woman). Still, it’s changing, especially since there are more house husbands than before and women are gradually gaining business prominence.
I love this post so much. However, as much as I am in absolute girl-crush on you right now with this blog, I do think sometimes you are rash with your statements. I recently moved from Germany where I worked at Nintendo. I loved that job, and would have gladly worked there all the hours in the week – I happily did overtime, even Saturday work for it. That was true happiness for me. However, Germany wasn’t. I came back to the UK to settle down, basically. While job hunting I met a guy in my hometown who I would have loved to have dated, but while he wasn’t working either, he didn’t want to move for another girl – he’d done that the year before and found that she had been cheating on him the whole time. I have an OK job now – well paid, in a good company – and I would not move for a guy, despite coming here to perhaps find someone. I’m certain I can find a guy from the pool of guys around me.
Yeah I can be a bit rash with my statements >< Sorry! My point of this entry wasn't to give advice (I'm not telling people to choose a man! it really depends on your priorities in life), but just offered an inside glimpse into my thought processes when I was trying to choose between great man in LA or great career in DC. For me this was one of those 'do I post it or not?' kind of entries, because it's extremely personal. The choice to stay with my boyfriend in L.A. or move to D.C. for my 'dream job' was the most agonizing decision of my life. Even now I think "maybe life in DC would have been better...?" but those kind of thought processes are toxic, and I have to live and make the best of the decision I made. Like you, I had an amazing job in Shanghai at both a consulting agency and ad agency and I loved it. I gladly worked overtime (when needed). I'm one of those people that like to put 110% into my job. But similar to you and Germany, I couldn't see myself living in Shanghai forever so I decided to move back to the USA and somewhat settle. After finally settling down in LA after my Shanghai transition I got the offer from DC, and I felt like I was uprooting my life--again--and going through long distance (had 2 long distance relationships in the past) yet AGAIN was something I really didn't want to do. Basically, everyone is different and has different situations. I think if I were in your situation I definitely wouldn't stay in my hometown for a potential candidate and would go to explore greener pastures. Plus, I know that you can find a better guy you're so amazing! (I have a girl crush on you now too, your blog is awesome haha). Thank you again for your comment. It's great to hear different stories and perspectives and it helps me think more about the decisions I made, and will make.
I have so many posts I don’t know whether to push the publish button on or not. I always worry that I’m being too personal, but at the end of the day it seems to help other people in the same situations when I do. Last year I wrote this one about how living as an expat can be so very lonely, and I was really taken aback by the number of people who said they related to my post.
Haha, I’m not that amazing! I’ve not had a proper relationship in years because I’ve just not been in the right place for a guy, or just can’t find the right guy. I’m sure he’ll be out there somewhere.
Now I am also having the same dilemma 😉