Do you ever wonder what comes next? I struggle with this a lot.
You see, it started when I went to a small all-girls Catholic high school on a full academic scholarship. It was a school we couldn’t afford but that I wanted to go to. Then I went to Princeton, the #1 ranked US College for the past four years. In that process, I accumulated debt that I’m now working to repay. Then I got accepted to Venture for America, an extremely elite startup and entrepreneurship-oriented fellowship. Now I’ve gotten a job that I love at an ed-fin-tech startup in Baltimore, MD working with Data-stuff.
In many ways, I’ve been collecting accomplishments until this point. These accomplishments have been building a variation of the ideal resume: gold-star accomplishment after gold-star accomplishment as I move along the path of life.
You see, this is where things get complicated, double-fold.
I’ve come to conclude that part of the reason young adulthood is so difficult or confusing (#adultingishard) is because for the first time in our young lives there’s no path to follow or an assigned goal to achieve. The next goal isn’t pre-set. We don’t know what we need to achieve in order to “be prepared for what comes next.” Of course, that has been what it was all about. Going to the right high school was about being prepared for going on to the right college. Going to the right college was about being prepared for going on to the right job, which in my case has been a prestigious fellowship and an amazing job, that I will certainly consider the right job.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to make this transition into adulthood, I struggle with the reconciling all that with my relationship and what that might mean for my career. A recent study found that 90% of military spouses are underemployed. While there are a plethora of organizations and resources trying to address that concern, the fact of the matter is it’s still very real. And it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Erica recently wrote about being a military spouse and a teacher. Bailey shared a similar post a couple of weeks ago (that I can’t find). Recently on Shark Tank, Cameron Cruise, co-founder of R. Riveter, said roughly that marrying her husband was “the beginning of the end of my career.” It doesn’t take that much of a google search to hear about the employment struggle of military spouses. I’ve met plenty of women who had to take jobs that have thrown their degrees and careers out the window if they could find jobs at all.
In her book Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family, Anne Marie Slaughter writes about how we can solve these family/care vs. career concerns for women in the private sector, but she does not even begin to touch the complexities that are exaggerated by a military affiliation. I have to say I really enjoyed the book, but I did not feel like her “solutions” failed to apply to the many of the military-specific struggles, like frequent PCSes.
I don’t know what my life is going to look like in 2 or 5 years. I know even less what my career is going to look like. My impossible dream is that I won’t have to pick one over the other. I want to both have Casey by my side and be the career-power-woman that I always pictured myself to be. Right now, it looks like an impossible dream.
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She is a contributor to many open source projects including dbt, Meltano, and GitLab. She lives with her husband Casey, their son RJ, and their pup Bo in Columbus, GA.