Life After 25

Breaking the Mold: Why You Don’t Have to Choose Between a Career or Family

By: Samarth Joseph

Tick tock, tick tock. Do you hear that? It’s your biological clock. Whether we like to admit it or not, many of us do look to our age as a timeline. At what age should I have kids? At what age should I get married? At what age should I be financially stable? How much easier would life be if society did not put such pressures on us?

As a recent college graduate there is the pressure of immediately starting your career. As a young woman, there is the pressure of getting married. Tick tock, tick tock. There it goes again. You have to hurry and get everything done by the time you are thirty. Thirty? Really? So if I enter college at eighteen, finish at twenty-one, I now have nine years to get myself together? Wow.

So what does it exactly mean to have yourself together? For some it’s an amazing career, for others it’s family. But for those of us who want both, why does society want us to choose? Woman who go back to work too early, are labeled as bad mothers, and those who wait until they are more established are labeled as the ones who couldn’t keep a man.

See the expectation is that you’ll find your dream partner in college, land your dream job, and live your life happily ever after. But as many recent graduates can tell you, that isn’t the case. An alarming number of students aren’t even working in their fields. For those who do find jobs immediately after college, more than likely, your focus is to climb the ladder.

You want to move up, gain more responsibilities, and really make a name for yourself in your organization. Employee evaluations and promotions are coming up, and you really want to make sure you stand out. You may not have time to date as much as you would like. In your mind, it’s okay because you know what you are working towards. To others however, this does not seem normal.

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions, when I plan on getting married or having kids. Those who ask do not care that I’m working on my masters. Apparently a bachelors is enough. Time to go settle down. “Oh something must be wrong with her,” they say. Why does something have to be wrong with me? The backlash women receive from not falling in line with traditional gender roles is ridiculous.

We have different priorities! Generations before us expected women to stay at home and rely on the man for financial support, but this is a new day and age. More men are stay at home dads, and more women are the breadwinners. It is possible to achieve both.

I do want to have children and get married eventually, but I shouldn’t have to choose between what I want because society thinks things should be done in a certain order, or by a certain age.

I feel strongly about doing what makes you happy, and believe that you can achieve anything you desire. When I was in college, I did have someone. We did talk about the future, and I really did believe that we were going to get married one day. But feelings change, and as I got closer to graduation I realized that I wanted to go to graduate school.

I knew that with the goals I planned on achieving, a master’s degree would be an excellent way to prove myself and to gain the knowledge that I needed. I applied to schools in state but also out of state as well. I was born and raised in Maryland and I really wanted to get away and explore new parts of the United States. I was ready to create new experiences and meet new people. With analyzing the different programs and choosing different tracks, I decided to not attend a school in Maryland.

I was then faced with having to pay out of state tuition. After calculating my budget I soon realized that out of state tuition, in addition to living expenses can quickly become expensive. So I did what the typical recent graduate does to save money: move back in with your parents. By this time my parents were already divorced and living in completely different states. My dad was living in Louisiana, and my mom was living in Florida.

I thought about which location would be the best for me and I decided to move to Florida. When I told the person I was involved with of my decision, he was shocked. He did not expect me to move away, and it actually didn’t hit him until I actually packed all my belongings and left. He did not want me to leave, but he also did not try to keep me there. We both knew that we were going in different directions and respected each other enough to allow the other to do what was going to be best for them.

I was very sad that it didn’t work out between us but that did not stop me from pursuing my dreams. Within my first six months in Florida I was able to get an amazing job, a brand new vehicle, and move into my own apartment. It was amazing! Less than a year later I was accepted into a master’s program at a nearby university and am currently halfway through my program.

It’s been about two years since being in my new city and I love it. I am single, but that does not bother me. Of course I’ve gone on dates, and explored other relationships but I am not worried. I have accomplished so much since being here, and I have built up an amazing level of self-confidence, fearlessness, and drive.

Who knows, maybe I would have been married by now if I stayed back home, but would I be as happy? I’ll never really know, but I have no regrets. I will continue with what makes me happy. When that special someone comes around, I’ll be in a much better position to make that type of commitment and start a family, compared to when I was fresh out of college. Don’t let society tell you what to choose. Do what makes you happy, and if you want both you can have both. Anything is possible and no one wants to live a life with regrets.

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