I’ve known that I wanted the white picket fence life since I was a little girl. I’ve also known that I wanted to do something big with my life. For most of my youth, I held relationships and boys above a lot of other things in my life, but the older I got, the more my mind shifted and I desired freedom and independence. I left my white picket fence dream at the doorstep and became determined to make my career and my dreams come true. But now as I’m heading deeper into my 20s, I’m starting to realize that while my career is blowing full steam ahead, my white picket fence remains where I left it - unmoved, untouched, and overflowing with dust. I’m starting to question whether choosing my career over a relationship has been the right choice or if I’m going to regret it.
This entire feeling only gets worse when I log onto my Facebook and am bombarded with pregnancy and engagement announcements from my high school friends as if they’re rubbing it in my face. While I post pictures of my grad photo shoot, my travels, and my drunken regrets, they post pictures of their babies and husbands. I sit there and think that they’re missing out on this great big beautiful life that I get to live as a single young adult, but they’re living one that they wouldn’t change for mine, and sometimes I wish I was living their life too. I still have to wonder when, where, and how I’ll meet my future baby daddy, meanwhile they have that part of their lives seemingly figured out. I’ve always been perfectly happy with the way I’ve been living my life, but now at 23, fresh out of college and with the whole world ahead, I can’t shake this feeling. I know that I’ve chosen to follow my career over any relationship because I’ve been burned one too many times, and as best stated by Lady Gaga, “some women choose to follow men and some choose to follow their dreams, if you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore.” With this quote in mind I’ve dated here and there, never involved in anything serious because like a true millennial I have a knack for falling into faulty relationships.
But while I know I’m not the best at relationships, I’m starting to see that an issue with choosing the path I’m walking on is that I’ve become so fiercely independent and confident that to open myself up to any man feels like I would give up a piece of what I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I’ve been closing myself off into a tunnel where my objective is the dreams I’ve set for myself and nothing else because it’s what I can count on. I’ve been like Paris from Gilmore Girls, completely driven by goals giving little attention love.
The wishy-washiness of relationships and the assurance of careers is what keeps us dream followers in the tunnel. We’re so used to knowing exactly how to get the job and book the gig, but we’re lost on how to ensure that when we go on a date, we don’t waste our time. Time has become precious to us that to think about wasting it on a maybe relationship seems like the worst use of it. I can guarantee you that I am going to be fine financially and professionally, but I can’t guarantee you the same when it comes to relationships or my white picket fence fantasy.
We’re often led to believe there are two paths, a relationship or your career, but it isn’t really that way. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but you do have to be open to finding a balance between them; and the only way to do that is to allow them to coexist in your world. There is no true path to ultimate life happiness, and having a relationship doesn’t guarantee you any more happiness than does a college degree or career. But shutting yourself off to finding out definitely guarantees you some serious FOMO. So when you’re lurking on your friends profile feeling some regret, know that you have a say on whether you let your paths collide. You can’t know if they’ll collide beautifully or tragically, but at least you’ll give it a shot, white picket fence or not.