Study, work or my partner?

A letter writer is struggling to balance her job, studies and her dreams of moving out. 

Our elder can empathize: she went through the same thing and lived to tell the tale.


Dear EWC

Hello! I am feeling quite lost. I am 22 and I am currently working full time (38 hours a week) and I am studying to get into a bachelor of applied science (medical radiations – if you don’t know the medical field well this means I will be working with X-rays). I am extremely passionate about healthcare and I think this is a great start. But, I am also saving in my full time job for a house (I live with my partner and his parents). If I study full time for three and a half years, I will probably have to drop back my hours at work and put moving out on hold. Plus, I will have less time to spend with my partner. I don’t want the years to just start rushing by with all this missed time with him. We have been together seven years. What should I do? Should I focus on moving out first and put my dreams of a career on hold? Should I study and put my dreams of moving out on hold? Have you or do you know anyone who has juggled study, work and life? I am doing exceptionally well in study (I am only doing one subject) and work at the moment. Any guidance you could give me would be very much appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.


Folk replies

As soon as I saw your letter, I knew right away I wanted to answer it. I know exactly what you are going through because I went through the same thing myself – and lived to tell about it! I know that it seems that there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week to do all the things you’d like to do. You’d like to be able to work full time so that you and your partner can save up enough to get a house of your own as soon as possible. The trouble is you’d also like to be able to study full time so that you can complete your degree in three and a half years and to spend more time with your partner. Because there just doesn’t seem a way for you to do all three of these things at the same time, you are stressing about which ones to focus on.

My husband and I have been together since I was 16. I’m 71 now, so that’s 55 years. We married very young and more or less grew up together. I know things are tough right now, but I can tell you from personal experience to hang in there, they will get better. I was a teenage mom. By the time I was 21, I had two children – and another on the way. My husband worked full-time during the day and went to law school full-time at night; I took care of the kids, worked part time, and went to school full-time to get my bachelor’s degree. We were so poor that we recycled disposable diapers and stole money from a charity wishing well just to be able to buy an occasional doughnut. We had no friends and never went anywhere. The only time my husband and I had together was late at night when he came home from law school dog tired. He still had homework to do for the next day though, so I had to read him his cases because he was too tired to read them himself.

I won’t lie: It was hard, very hard. We stuck with it though. I got my college degree, then a masters, and my husband graduated first in his law school class. We had a lot of school debt to pay off afterwards, and we kept having kids – 8 in all – but, year by year, little by little, life started getting better and better, and by the time our oldest was a teenager, we were well enough off to be able to take the whole family to Italy for a Christmas vacation. We were able to send our kids overseas to study, to buy them each cars when they turned 16, to pay for their weddings, and to help them make down payments on their first homes. After the kids grew up, my husband and I were able to travel extensively for months at a time. We’ve been to every continent on the planet more than once and we’ve been able to do almost all the things we dreamed about doing  If we hadn’t suffered through those seemingly endless miserable “treadmill” years though, we would never have been able to do any of those things – or to reap the benefits of the life we built, brick by brick, for ourselves and our family.

Your schedule is incredibly full right now. You are doing everything you possibly can to build the kind of future you want for you and your partner. On the one hand, you know that if you stick with the program, your efforts will pay off big time, and you will be rewarded for all your hard work. On the other hand though, you feel that life is passing you by and that you are missing out on spending time with your partner. I can’t tell how to feel about your own relationship, but I can tell you that even when my husband and I were  so busy with school and work that we hardly spent any time together, I always felt that we were connected through our shared dream.

The years where we were both working and going to school and raising a family were very crazy, very lean years – but even on the worst days, I would never have traded my life for any other. I’m an old woman now, but nothing in my life has ever made either me or my husband regret our decision to stay in school and earn our degrees. Our educations enabled us to eventually have the kind of life we wanted, so to us, our sacrifices were more than worth it.

My advice to you is not to get discouraged by how tough things are right now. You are young and energetic and as hard as the next few years will be, you can get through them. In the scheme of things, living with your partner’s parents for a few more years is a small price to pay for a much brighter future. If you and your partner are on the same page and want the same things out of life, then join hands and join forces and go after them. I promise you: you won’t regret it.

I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back to let me know what you decide to do and how things work out for you. I will be rooting for your success.

Article #: 477015

Category: Career

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