So I was on a date the other night (please hold the applause) when my handsome companion and I ventured over to the daunting subject of family vs. career when you live in a place that makes it hard to have both. I disclosed my hopes of ditching freelance work entirely and eventually finding a steady editorial or staff writing position of sorts, and he empathized with how difficult it is to achieve that where we live. Although I don't want to announce where I live on the Internet, I will say it's a relatively small and uneventful town. If you're not a doctor or a lawyer or someone who works for one, it's rare to be considered too much of a big shot. While I'm certainly not saying it's impossible to achieve my goal of being a successful writer and still live near my family, there's no denying that it will indeed be tricky. To be honest, I'm not sure where to begin.
I've always known that people like me belong in places like New York or Chicago. I know I could find countless opportunities to be the kind of writer I want to be in a bigger city with bigger publishing demands. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to be an in-office writer for a popular website for millennials dangled in front of me. Yes, they were based in New York. I wasn't given a solid job offer, mind you, but I was told that IF I lived in New York, I was free to apply. I was even given a list of requirements for the job, and it didn't sound hard at all. Following that experience, I pretty much had an existential crisis for about a week.
Over the last year, my family has really made its way towards the top of my priority list. A plethora of different events cultivated this, but after years of feeling depressed, abandoned and alone, being surrounded by loved ones is all I really want. The thought of living in a tiny apartment in a big city where no one cares about me makes me feel quite miserable. I could never do it. My desire for love will always come before my desire for money, and my desire for happiness will always come before my desire for success. I've had this discussion with many more before my handsome companion, and they all empathize. They all think I should leave this town without looking back and go where the writers go, but at the same time, they all project the overall sentiment of, "But it would sure be lonely, and we sure would miss you."
My older brother recently landed a job closer to home, and he and my sister-in-law are so excited about moving back that it almost makes me emotional. It's been so challenging for them to live away from family and friends as of late, and they don't even live that far --- a couple of hours. But they don't want to make a trip out of every visit. They want to go to more family gatherings, accept invitations to hang out at the drop of a hat, make memories closer to home, and just BE HERE. And I get that. I totally get that because I want the same thing. But I don't know how to reach my writing goals when I don't have the resources and opportunities to do so. As they say, the struggle is real. That seems to be the 20-something motto these days. Many of my friends are in similar boats filled with big decisions and difficult compromises.
I guess this issue really boils down to what is most important to you. Some people will choose adventure and opportunity at the expense of family time, and others will choose the exact opposite. I wonder if there is a happy medium. And if there is, I wonder if I will ever find it.
Until then, I choose to believe that I can have my cake and eat it too. It's my cake after all.