You don't have to live stressed out and exhausted.
This past Sunday, my nearest and dearest and I had one of those lovely days of hanging on the couch watching movies. I am a big believer in checking out from the world every now and then, regaining balance by sleeping in and rejuvenating with a day of nothing. One of the movies we watched was called Post Grad. It is about a woman who has just graduated from college with big dreams for her career. Basically since high school she has set up a series of career goals she wanted to accomplish. After college, she runs into a few road blocks and hits a few snags in her great career plan. In typical movie fashion there was a boy who likes her but she can’t ‘see’ him because she is so blinded by her career goals not moving at the speed she wanted them too. In the end (Spoiler alert) she leaves her ‘dream job’ to fly across country and declare her love for the boy that has been there for her through it all.
I have to admit, I was slightly annoyed by the ending. Yes, the lead character realized she loved the boy who was at law school at Columbia across the country. And yes, her ‘dream’ job wasn’t quite as dreamy because she was working 60+ hours as an assistant to an editor. But in reality, if you want to be an editor some day you have to pay your dues in some fashion. So why must she leave her job and fly across country to be with him. I believe it is possible to build quality relationships AND have a career you love–maybe not all at the same time, but it is possible.
Ok, I get it. It is hollywood, it is a hollywood ending but these types of movies DRIVE ME CRAZY!!! Life isn’t that easy, it isn’t just a series of black and white decisions. I would love to see what happens next. What happens the morning after when she wakes up in New York City and her boyfriend goes off to his classes at Columbia law school and she does what!? Lives where?! Yes, she has the love of a good man, but she had no job, no house, nothing.
The reason for her decision to fly across the country was hinged on one quote from a friend of her’s who said: “what you do with your life is only half the equation, more importantly it is who you are doing it with”. AMEN I love that quote! However, I don’t love that it inspired her to up and leave everything for the love of a boy. Much of what I fight in my practice is the idea of black and white thinking. I can have my dream job OR someone that supports me. I can make good money OR I can love my job. I can be happy OR I can have stability.
Life isn’t either/or, life is a big gray mix of stuff. As I laid in bed on Sunday night, in my mind I re-wrote the ending. Alternate Ending: She calls the boy and expresses her feelings, they have an actual conversation about where they are in life and what they are feeling. She takes time off from her work and then flies out to see him where he shows her around NYC and then she flies home and they begin to negotiate/determine whether or not a long distance relationship would work. Maybe he transfers to law school in LA or she transfers from her job to work in NYC. Regardless, no one is giving up on a dream, no one is losing the love of their lives. They are talking, negotiating, thinking out of the box and creatively coming up with a solution.
Life is about balancing our careers and our relationships. It is about working AND living happier. It is about making big life changing decisions, living our dreams AND looking at the practical side of life. This movie bothers me because it perpetuates the myth (especially for women) that we have to choose between having quality relationships or a career. And I believe we don’t. We can find work we love, live a life that is full of passion and purpose and have people who support us and who we care about.
What do you think? Do we have to choose between happiness in our career or happiness in our personal life?