Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Feminism – Choosing neither career nor family

I was amused to hear on the radio last year of a “New Feminism”: a wave of women who were responding to the pressures on women to “have it all” (the perfect career AND family) by living a fulfilling life with neither. It amused me because here was a tagline that I could easily pin to myself without even being aware of its philosophy.
So as an apparent ‘new feminist’ I can speak on my own behalf about why I have chosen not to have a career or family, but I’d love to hear from other people who have considered or chosen the same path.
Yesterday I briefly covered the reasons for not wanting children; the post was slightly tongue-in-cheek but still accurate from my own point of view. The issue runs much deeper than a quiet house though. I was adopted as a baby by two lovely people who raised me well. As an adult I decided to find my biological mother and we have a very good relationship together.
Possibly because I learnt my life skills from my adoptive parents, I’ve never felt the need to have my own biological children. Even when I was younger and thought I may have children one day, the idea of fostering or adopting a child never seemed like a consolation (for not being able to bear children), but a preferred option. There are so many children in the world that need love already, why create more?
As it turns out, the point is moot for me personally; I don’t want to put my life on hold to raise another being.
As far as a career goes, when I left university I was determined I was going to have a fabulous career and be a millionaire by the time I was thirty. I did give that ‘career’ a serious go: I was working in the IT industry and moved up the pay scale quickly.
Every couple of years I’d move to another firm to work in a different area of the industry because I was never happy with the work I was doing. Even though I created and designed a database for use by the government (a feat I was proud of) it felt hollow, knowing that in a few years all my hard work would be obsolete and replaced by a newer faster model. That is the way of IT, forever evolving. I soon realised anything I produced would essentially be worthless in about four years.
After a decade in the industry I’d tried everything to make my ‘career’ work and all I had was a bucket load of cash I’d blow every weekend in a never ending cycle to forget how empty my life was. During a period of sobriety I was able to contemplate my position, and realised it was time to let go. Let go of the idea of the career.
Shortly after, I quit my job and looked for a less stressful one, as it turned out I landed a job in administration and really enjoyed it. Yes, my pay was tiny in comparison, but I had more fun during my day and no urge to disappear in a fog of forgetfulness every weekend. It was the best decision I’d ever made.
Since then I’ve had a variety of jobs as I’ve jokingly worked my way DOWN the career ladder to less and less stressful (and lower paid) positions. Since I don’t have children and I just have Mike and our two dogs to look after, the lower income doesn’t really matter. I spend less because I earn less, that’s all there is to it.
For me personally, having no career or family is the best thing in the world. I have a job, but I’m honest with my employers that I just want somewhere to work for a few years until I move to the country. Not all employers want every staff member to be ambitious enough to work their way up to management; in my current position there is no position to be promoted to, so I’m a perfect fit!

What are your thoughts on career and family? One, both or neither?

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