Choosing A Man Over My Career
The man in my life is more important than any job or email and I will not apologise for it.
We live in a culture that continually emphasises ambition, success, and drive. It is disguised as hustle culture, but more recently, I’ve been questioning whether it’s the effects of a capitalist culture. It’s the same machine that wants our self-esteem to be tied to our productivity. It’s why as a culture, we have lost touch with the ability to have fun and feel guilty anytime we try to rest. In terms of women specifically, since we fought so hard for the right to work, we are questioned if work is not our highest priority. “Strong Independent Woman” they will cry but what happens when you are so independent, you are hyper-independent? What happens when you are so strong that you don’t trust anyone to be there for you? And more importantly, is it really a strength to do everything alone?
(Photographer: Brett Cove)
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I am one of the people who could be used as a prime example of a ‘strong independent woman’. I built my career by being opinionated and outspoken, I work for myself and for eight years of my twenties, I was single and completely focused on my career. Until one night, I came home, having completed a TedX talk - a pinnacle of my career - and found there was no one home to celebrate with. My housemate had gone out with her new boyfriend and my go-to person was no longer there to go-to. There is something that happens when you achieve a lot, where people stop noticing, paying attention and congratulating you. In some ways, it’s a good problem to have but when it’s just another thing on a list of accomplishments, they stop checking in to see how it went. People assume the nerves aren’t there, they assume it’s easy and well, that left me in my apartment feeling pretty lonely on the night of one of my biggest accomplishments. An accomplishment, which by the way, was actually the hardest thing I have ever done in my career to this day.
I was 24 at the time and I started worrying I would look back at my 20s and my only memories would be work so I made a plan to create more balance in my life. I used to cancel everything for work whether it was dates, holidays with my family or lunch with my friends. If something came in last minute, you were dropped and as you can imagine, that didn’t leave me with too many people in my life so I made the decision to start prioritising people again. I would no longer cancel my life for work. And it worked. It made me happier. I had more balance. I had a love life again. In fact, my dating life was so amazing, I wrote a whole book on it and now that I’m on the precipice of turning 30, I’m so glad I did. When I look back on my 20s, I have holidays to recollect, people to remember and most of all, fun.
Which leads me to now. I am 2 months away from turning 30 and the biggest change that happened in my twenties is I got into a relationship. I fell in love and this person means more to me than anyone else in the world. In fact, I didn’t know I could ever feel this way about a human and I didn’t know how truly amazing falling in love could feel like. And yet, we have a normal, healthy relationship where sometimes we have issues. Sometimes we fight. And when we do so, I notice that all the work I need to do that day becomes meaningless. I can’t operate my normal work day when we are not right. Of course, I still have to do my job. I have been on This Morning, the morning after we had a big fight and whilst I did my job, I can’t say I operate at my best when my partner and I aren’t in a good place. As a result, in the span of our two-year relationship, I have also cancelled two meetings so we could have an important conversation. I choose him and I’m OK with that.
This is controversial to say in a culture that tells you to be a “strong independent woman”. People would say I shouldn’t let a man affect my work. That I shouldn’t put a man above my career but is it really a weakness that I value our relationship more than I value whatever job I have on that day? It’s not about putting a man above your career, it’s about how I realised that my career isn’t worth it if I’m coming home to an empty house.
So yes, if we have an issue, I prioritise us repairing us over any job or email that comes in and I refuse to apologise for that.
Maybe we should start questioning a culture that encourages us to not be that way. People should matter more than money. People should matter more than productivity and yes, people should matter more than work.
My work still matters to me. I still have many goals and ambitions and what I have realised is there is always going to be another job, another email and another opportunity. If you are constantly saying no to the people around you, you will lose them. And I will not lose the love of my life because I am too busy investing all my time and energy into one thing. I want a full life and the way you get that is by investing in all areas.
Everyone has different priorities and our priorities can change. Proof of that is this year, my dream gig came into my inbox. It was to go on This Morning but they had asked me to come in on a day I was out of the country, on holiday with my boyfriend. I could have cancelled, my boyfriend even offered. Old me would have cancelled but I didn’t. Time with my boyfriend is precious and since he works a 9-5 job, it’s not easy to book time off so I said no, believing that it would come back around. And it did! I got to have both because I had the confidence to know my priorities.
I now not only prioritise people but I prioritise fun, joy and pleasure because what I also realised is if work is your top priority, you will never take a holiday. Especially as a freelancer, the day you decide to take a holiday is the day something new will come in telling you to stay home. You have to be willing to miss out on opportunities and know they will come back around in order to create balance.
The point is I don’t choose a man over my career. I choose one man over my career. A man who’s earned it. A man who makes me better and the man who made me realise there are more important things than work. A man who I know also has me as a higher priority than his work. It’s reciprocated and I know I’m not doing anything that he wouldn’t do for me. Our relationship works because we make it a priority and that’s not only something I won’t apologise for, it’s something I am hugely proud of
Lots of love,