A Reflection on How to Balance Multiple Careers Under One Roof
A few months ago, I was sitting at my nephew’s soccer game, and I started chatting with a mom. Throughout the conversation, and as we were “getting to know each other,” I kept noticing a pattern: she never asked me about my career, my training, or my education. Instead, her first question was: “So, what does your husband do for a living?”
I mumbled under my breath that he is a physician and I was suddenly thrown into a VERY familiar cycle.
Her very first response was “WOW, YOU ARE SO LUCKY TO BE MARRIED TO A DOCTOR.”
We never ended up talking about whether or not I had a career, and it really made me stop and think. Why can’t we support our spouses and still have an incredible, impactful career along the way?
What Being an Entrepreneurial Life Partner Really Means
My husband, Chris, and I both work in the medical field. I became a pharmacist, and now, after a decade of technical training, Chris has finished his fellowship and we’re moving back home to Orange County, CA.
It’s a huge time for us, and I’m so excited to share this experience with our friends and family who have relentlessly supported us along our journey.
We’re both chasing our dreams and loving our careers – but why did I feel like I have to hide what Chris does? Why was I so nervous to share this with others?
Because, to be totally transparent, I’ve heard “You are SO lucky you’re married to a doctor” a few dozen too many times.
In the past, one of my bosses (and someone I REALLY admired) explicitly said to me: “Why are you working in this leadership role? Your husband is a surgeon, so obviously you’re not going to work once he is done with his training, right?”
My heart immediately sank... I’m not gonna lie, that one really stung.
So, after over a decade of being together, and hearing these kinds of statements regularly, I finally need to get a few things straight.
I’ve never said this out loud before, but here it goes: In all of the futures I envision for myself, I am always evolving, learning new skills, meeting new challenges, and constantly gaining new experience. And, the thing is, I can be all that while still supporting my spouse through his career.
That’s because, no matter if your spouse is a physician, an accountant, a firefighter, a professional athlete, in the military, a stay-at-home-parent, or whatever else, you have to surround yourself with people who TRULY embrace and support you and your career and life plans.
Building Connections Across the Country
Chris and I met in Buffalo, New York two days before my pharmacy school interviews kicked off.
Three weeks after the day we met, I was accepted into my dream school, the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy (Fight On!).
Despite us having a great connection, I knew one thing:
There were no boys, no jobs, or nothing out there that I was going to let stand in my way of succeeding in this career. As for him? He was supportive and we built a life together that celebrated both of our strong careers.
So, we were long distance for four years (California → New York) while we pursued our education – until I graduated and was able to land a job where we could finally live together, get married, and start our family.
Being extremely flexible, open to new definitions of what success looks and feels like, and having your own priorities have been critical when balancing multiple careers – and that’s how we were able to make it work for both of us despite how “easy” other people may think I, and other spouses like me, have it.
Supporting Your Spouse Doesn’t Make You A Martyr!
Getting the most out of every experience is invaluable. That goes for both marriages and careers. Moving with Chris to finish his training (we’ve moved across the country about five times during the last decade), which he’s been working so hard for, didn’t mean my career took a back seat.
When you’re placed in a unique situation like this, it’s time for you to take step back and recognize what is important to you. Use this dedicated time as a vehicle to make yourself well-rounded and get really comfortable being uncomfortable in new situations.
Putting yourself out there and making new friends, or new colleagues, is the best way to lean into the newness and uniqueness of your situation. This is precisely what drove me into creating a non-traditional pharmacy role and why I work with both women and men to help them do the same for themselves.
You see, supporting your spouse doesn’t make you a martyr. You don’t have to give anything up or think of it as a time when your life is on hold.
When you’re supportive of your spouse, it’s time to lean into whatever decision is best for your family, and be extremely proud of yourselves for taking it all on and taking things to a new level in both of your lives and careers.
When we had our first big move to Kentucky, I had essentially ZERO connections, and I felt so far away from my family. But we were there for a reason – for him to tackle this early part of his training and for me to challenge myself in a completely new way.
Six years later, I am here writing to you to say that it’s perfectly okay to support and follow your spouse (or significant other!) because your success or life purpose shouldn’t be tied to a geographical location. And the success of your partner doesn’t ever detract from your greatness.
Chasing Your Dreams = Support + Success
So, no matter what situation you find yourself in – make the choices that are best for you and your partner because, ultimately, you can both find success no matter what you do or what profession you land in... And no one’s minimizing “you’re so lucky!” comments can take that away.
In the meantime, please join me in wishing my husband the absolute biggest congratulations on his awesome accomplishments! TEN YEARS of blood (a lot of blood in his field!), sacrifice, and a ton of perseverance allowed him to achieve this.
I am proud to say he is an excellent orthopedic trauma surgeon. He is an example of what it takes to chase after your lifelong dreams, no matter what gets in your way. It has been a tough road for him, but he loves his job and, most importantly, loves us. I can’t ask for anything more then that in a partner.
We’ll be heading out of the country for a few weeks to celebrate (leaving the kids at home too!!!), but you can look forward to a great blog on “Being VERY Intentional with your Career… AND LIFE” in the middle of August!