I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where I was taught since childhood that I could really have it all. Happy marriage? You've got it! Successful career in the arts? If you set your mind to it, duh! No dream was too big, and there was definitely no such thing as having too many dreams. Unfortunately, as I've gotten older, I've learned that life isn't quite so simple. Often times, people on the brink of "having it all" face choosing between love and your career.
In a recent Reddit thread, women revealed their own experiences with having to choose between love and their careers. And let's just say, their struggles are all too relatable. Whether or not they felt the decision worked out in the end varied from person to person. But in the end, they chose what they felt was best for them at the time, which is the most important takeaway.
She chose love, but she misses her financial independence.
I got engaged my senior year of college, and knew that accepting meant (basically) giving up my plans to be a professor. My guy was in the military, and ... those two things just don't fit together terribly well (at least, not if we actually wanted to live together). If I were going to be serious about wanting to be a professor, I should go to the best grad schools I could get into, and when it comes to jobs, you kind of go where the job is offered. So I ended up basically giving that up.
How'd that go? Not all that well. I basically became financially dependent, a trailing spouse. Didn't really find another career, just a long series of not-much-better than entry level jobs wherever his career took us. I did pick up a few graduate degrees along the way, but they were almost more of a way to get into a staff job at the university than a strategic career move.
He and I divorced after 19 years of marriage. At that point, he had a six-figure income as a military officer with a resume that showed steadily increasing levels of responsibility and success; I had a couple of random graduate degrees and no income at all.
That was 6 years ago. I've managed to put together a career for myself as a project manager since then, but ... I regret willingly giving up my financial independence for the relationship, even if that was pretty much required for us to marry. It's not something I'd advise others to do.
She chose her career, and it was the best decision she ever made.
Yes, made this decision an eternity ago when I was about 22. Long-term college boyfriend wanted to stay in the suburbs of... Florida... after we graduated. Ugh. Of all places. Meanwhile, I got a full ride to grad school in DC. I chose school (f*cking obviously) and broke up with the dude after about two months. It was the best decision I have made in my entire life. Don't let anyone hold you back. It's usually not worth it.
She chose love, and she can't imagine ever regretting it.
Yes. I chose love and it's going well so far. I'm the trailing spouse of a medical doctor. I chose to move so we'd be in the same city while raising our child during residency; we were long-distance before. I chose to not become the primary breadwinner last year so that I could stay at home with my son while he's young.
I still have scientific publications coming out from the work I did before I moved, so my resume is still seeing some activity even years later. I was receiving interviews and job offers as recently as a few months ago, when I realized I didn't want to work even PT and stopped applying. Maybe it's naive to think I'll still be this marketable in a few years, but I'm optimistic.
It helps that my last position was underpaid and required I work weekends that didn't count towards my salaried 40-hour weekly minimum. I loved the work, my co-workers, and bosses but it was never going to work financially in the long run.
I've greatly surprised myself by finding more fulfillment in family life than I ever did in research, and I was very career-oriented before. I can't imagine I'll ever look back on life and regret spending more time with my son and husband than making a smidge more money.
She chose love and deeply regrets it.
I had a partner who said we were over if I left the country to teach.
I ended up leaving him after he belittled me about insecurities I'd confided in him in front of his entire family and guests, a bit too late to teach abroad.
I regret ever having met him, much less chosen him over a job.
She chose her career, and it made her realize how little her partner cared.
When I graduated uni, I got an offer for a stable job immediately. It’s tough to find a job in my field these days, especially entry-level so I was very lucky.
My boyfriend at the time wanted to move to San Francisco to seek opportunities and wanted me to move with him. He wanted me to pass on a rare opportunity to move to an expensive city where we will both be unemployed. It also made me realize he never really cared about my accomplishments. I said no and broke up with him.
I’m now on a really good career path and have relocation offers.
She chose her career for the time being, but that might change later.
I sort of am choosing my career at the moment because I’m just getting started, so my SO and I are long distance. It’s working very well for us. But at some point, I may choose to leave this job I like to be with him and find some other work.
Leaving her career for him was an easy decision.
I didn't exactly have to choose in the sense that he made me but I knew I couldn't continue doing my job as an escort if I married my husband and moved out to rural Ireland to be with him.
It ended up being one of the easiest choices I've ever made.
She chose love and wound up finding an even better career.
I gave up a job that I was very good at and probably would have advanced quickly in, in order to move to another city for my SO's job. It wasn't necessarily my 'dream' job though (I'm not sure I have one) but it was one I enjoyed. It was a difficult decision to give it up but I wouldn't have done so without some assurances. For example, my SO agreed to support me with living expenses for up to a year, if it took me a while to find a new job. And my SO and I had been together for 6 years at this point and the idea of breaking up over this was just a non-starter.
Anyway it ended up working out really well. I landed a new job straight away (and in fact started before my SO did so everyone thought he moved for me...) and I enjoy it more than my old one. It's also worked out great for my CV and I'm now in a growing field with a lot of demand for people with my experiences, contacts and skillset. My relationship with my SO is stronger every day and I've never been happier.
Right before she made the decision, her partner made things easy for her.
Yes. I was in love with this guy who I'd been friends with for years and years. We grew up together. Finally I made a move on him, and he reciprocated, and it was SO AWESOME except for the fact that he now lived more than a hundred miles away. I had a great job, the perfect job actually, but I was turning over the idea of relocating to be with him... and then he let me know HE was turning over the idea of relocating across the country. So I guess the problem kind of solved itself. He's still great, though, I love him to death. But it will never happen.
A word of advice? There is no right or wrong in this situation. Do what's right for you and have faith in your own gut instincts.
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