Thinking about the future, your career and love life especially, can be tricky. Often women begin to plan their whole lives around the men their obsessed with. The men women see themselves marrying and starting a family with become a root decision to where they want to work and whom they want to be.Well, except for me.
“So you’re saying if you got offered your dream opportunity in your dream city of San Francisco, your partner wouldn’t be a reason for you to stay?” he asked.
“If you mean partner, as in we’re not married, no sir,” I responded.
“You wouldn’t consider it?”
“I don’t want to resent him and anything short of him being my spouse, so no, I wouldn’t.”
An awkward silence filled the car and then we were off talking about what we were going to order for breakfast. I could tell he was shocked by my response. He was surprised that I wouldn’t hesitate to choose a dream opportunity over a person I was in a relationship with. I was surprised he underestimated the power of resentment, regret, and unfullfilment.
I knew, that if I were asked to sacrifice the exploration or fruition of a dream, be it to further my education, career, or myself, it would only be a matter of time before resentment, regret, and unfulfllment took up residence in my mind and my relationships, especially the ones with people I felt I sacrificed everything for. It would only be a matter of time before I would not only have missed the opportunity but would want out of the relationship, being left opportunity-less, potentially dreamless, and relationship-less.
Perhaps you read this and find me selfish or far too pessimistic. After all if you are with the one you love, or surrounded by the ones you love (family and your besties), then love conquers all and other opportunities will come along. Right?
Putting yourself first is only selfish when it becomes a lifestyle that disregards others.
Putting yourself first from time to time, especially when it comes to decisions that can alter the course of your life (i.e. going away to school or staying home for your parents, taking that job in Boston or moving to Austin for your boo, to have tubal ligation after your second child or to continue growing a family) is not selfish but necessary.
You were created with talents, abilities, passions, and desires. There is nothing inherently or immorally wrong (unless they harm yourself or others) with pursuing them. Doing so often allows you to be the best version of yourself, and since when are you worth settling for less than your very best? Besides, what’s not to say that as you choose to do things which move you forward and further allows you to be unapologetically and authentically you, at the expense of leaving someone behind, that you don’t get to meet an even better person who complements you, your lifestyle, and your goals?
I think there is something to be said for considering others as you are faced with life changing chances, but ultimately you have to choose. You have to decide do you want to wake up and look in the mirror at a woman you don’t recognize whose identity has slowly morphed into that of a woman who has settled and supported others for years? Or, do you want to look in the mirror at a woman who is content knowing she has chosen to pursue what she believes is best?
Now, please note, my caveat to not thinking too long about passing up a great opportunity over my boo, my momma, or the comfort of familiarity, was marriage. I believe marriage should cause you to pause and work with your partner about what is best for you both. It’s imperative that you are both on the same page about the cost and the benefits of you taking the job overseas, not wanting to have any more children, starting your own business, or going back to school. When you say “I do”, you and your partner are unified as one, and it’s important to make decisions that work for the union.
When I work with clients who have tough decisions to make I encourage them to make a cost-benefits list. They list what the decision will cost them and how it would benefit them. When the list is complete, it’s not as much about the benefits outweighing the cost as it is about them being willing to pay the cost. Are you willing to pay the cost of resentment, regret, or unfulfillment that often comes with dreams deferred, decisions not considered for the sake of your current partner, or opportunities overlooked for the sake of your family’s comfort? Furthermore, are you willing to pay the cost for the pursuit of passion, discovery of desire, and fulfillment of the fruition of a dream?