To Have and Have Not: Choosing between love, career and Oreos.

I write about balancing our professional lives and personal lives and the sacrifices that we make for one or the other. It is a balancing act indeed. But when the line is drawn in the sand, and you absolutely have to make the choice between career and love, which would you choose?

I know many people would be quick to say LOVE! All you need is love. Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. Love was made for me and you. Oh, crazy little thing called love.

To these hopeless romantics, I say “not so fast.”

Let’s examine this choice, but instead of thinking about what we would rather HAVE, let’s think about which we would rather NOT HAVE. Would you rather be single or unemployed?

I have been in both situations, having and not having both boyfriends and jobs.

For both, there is heartache. You wonder why you’re not good enough. There is fear and self-doubt. Your confidence is completely shattered. You ask yourself, “Why doesn’t anyone want me?” And, “wow, how did I manage to eat this entire package of Oreos in one evening?”

But when you lose your boyfriend, the pain is severe at the beginning. It feels like you were kicked in the stomach. It is a gut-wrenching pain. However as time goes on, it gets better.

When you are unemployed the pain is more of an ache. It hurts both the head and the heart. And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets. And rather than the rejection of just one boyfriend, you know there is a good chance of a dismissal from every cover letter, inquiry email and interview.

For me, unemployment is more heartbreaking than any break up.

And I love you, Oreos. (No, I didn't do this, I found it on a blog. It's creativity like this that comes out of breakups and unemployment.) Photo courtesy: Sweat Betul, "Ways to Eat Oreos"

A job gives you a reason to get out of bed. It is true that a boyfriend gives you a great reason to stay in bed, but at some point you do have to join the civilized world.

I have always wanted an exciting career more than a boyfriend. I wanted to feel like I was contributing something to a great company, to feel accomplished, proud and successful, and – most importantly – to be able to support myself.

To reach a point where I don’t have all of those feelings doesn’t sit well at all. I don’t feel sexy or pretty when I don’t feel confident and smart. I don’t like Unemployed Me. She is a scared, weak, unsure and sad version of myself. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with Unemployed Me.

So if I had to pick, I’d choose my career.

If you’re reading this column, first off, thank you! But maybe you’re thinking that it’s pretty depressing. Losing a boyfriend or a job can be two of the most heartbreaking things you can go through.

However, we all know it’s not permanent. Once you put down the Oreos, you begin to think about new possibilities. When you are single or unemployed, it is now all about you. You tally everything that you do have and everything that you love to do. All of a sudden, these things become the most important to you, and you think about how you won’t forget about them in your new relationship or job.

I do have a romantic side, BUT I’d choose my career because I have to love who I am before I can think about loving someone else.

For most of us, fortunately, the line never gets drawn in the sand, and we don’t have to choose between career and love. Yes, there are times when you have make choices and sacrifices, and that’s the balancing act. You make it work.

And for the other times, when it just doesn’t work… well, it sucks. I know that. But I can tell you that there are new possibilities. Just have hope, and girlfriends or a mom that cheer you up, share their wine, and don’t mind you calling and crying from time to time.

And I also suggest dipping your Oreos in a glass of wine.

~ Elissa


About elissasblog

About the Author: Elissa writes about her experiences with her career and relationships and the difficulty in keeping the balance, especially while wearing 4-inch heels.
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16 Responses to To Have and Have Not: Choosing between love, career and Oreos.

  1. Lane says:

    I’m enjoying the blog, Elissa! Does everyone from western PA have those Corell plates or what?!!?

  2. elissasblog says:

    Thanks, Lane!! And YES, those Corell plates last through anything! Unfortunately, the pictured plate isn’t mine. We have another Corell fan out there somewhere. Thanks for reading!!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Hey there!
    I’ve been keeping up with your blog (much more interesting than mine, which consists of milestones like Brady acknowledging that he’s pooped…), and I like! Today’s especially hit home because not long ago, I, too, was unemployed. Albeit for maternity leave and then because I chose to resign, but I definitely was not the same gal as Employed Me! But I learned a lesson about myself: I need to feel passionate about something other than my family, contribute to my family in a financial sense, and teaching is my outlet to accomplishing both of those things. So, thanks for making me think (and smile—dipping Oreos in wine = brilliant!) today!

  4. elissasblog says:

    Thanks, Steph! Awe, c’mon… Brady’s poop stories are incredibly interesting! But thanks for sharing your thoughts, as someone who has also been unemployed. You really do think a lot more about yourself and gain some perspective. And heck, if I wasn’t unemployed, I wouldn’t have rediscovered how much I love writing and started this blog. In a perfect world, we’d all have a fabulous love life and career. But eh, no one’s perfect. And that is why it is good to have wine, good friends, and poop stories from Brady to make us smile. Thanks again, glad you’re enjoying reading my rants!

  5. Holly says:

    Hey, Elissa! I was just catching up on your blog, and wanted to tell you how much I like it. I hope that, even while you’re unemployed, you still find little ways to love yourself, because there’s lots to love! Try not to let your career completely define you, because we love you just the way you are!!

  6. Holly says:

    And yes, I was shamelessly adding to your lyrical introduction (which I loved, by the way!)

  7. elissasblog says:

    HA! Thanks, Holly. I didn’t even think of that song. Compliments on my writing mean ever so more when they come from someone who studied and taught English. Dr. McNavage would be so proud! And it was because of my unemployment that I was able to sit and think about choices, sacrifices, and start writing this blog.

  8. Toni says:

    Elissa this is GREAT! I have just been dumped by the man that I thought was perfect for me in every way but he did not feel the same. I can at this moment tell you that I feel like I was kicked in my stomach and it is heart wrenching. The best part is that he said he doesnt love me anymore because I have debt (student loans-Car payment) I thought that most people were subject to these debts but maybe on his end of money town debt does not exist. I have spent the day crying and it cheered me up to read your article. Why does life and love have to hurt so much???

    • elissasblog says:

      UGH, Toni, I am so sorry to hear that, but so glad you were cheered up a bit by my column. Breakups suck. I cannot believe his reasoning! WTF? Someone recently told me that we have to understand that only ONE relationship in our lives is supposed to work out. So basically, relationships have a 99% failure rate. Those are terrible odds, but when you find that ONE, you win. We have all spent days crying, we need to do that. Kleenex makes a fortune on breakups! I have told myself “There will be a day when I won’t cry over him. If it’s not today or tomorrow, it’s OK. But there will be a day.” You will have your day.

  9. Catherine says:

    This is interesting, I never thought about the commonalities (and the differences) of a breakup and losing your job/not being able to find a new job. Luckily (and knock on wood), I have never lost a job. But I can’t imagine the rest of my life without love. But I say that about love in general, not necessarily romantic love. I think I could survive without romantic love, but I don’t think I could survive without any love at all (family, friends). I know that I would be incredibly unhappy if I didn’t like my job or my place in the world. That would be incredibly hard for me, to feel like I’m not making any difference at all.

    Really enjoyed this post – thanks for putting some things in perspective!

    • elissasblog says:

      Thanks, Catherine! Oh yes, this is definitely more about romantic love. It is the other loves in my life (family, friends) that got me through the times of no job or boyfriend. We need love, but we also need to know what kind of love we need. And I hate to sound like the cheesy Whitney Houston song, but I think you really need to love yourself first, and then you can be a much better sister, daughter, friend, aunt, and also girlfriend or wife. And for me to do that, I need my career. Thanks again!

  10. Abigail says:

    I was laid off AND the bf was breaking up with me at the same time. Oh yeah, I just had a baby too. A very important lesson was learned. I would definitely rather have a job b/c I want to depend on NO MAN and I want to be in a position to take care of my kid and myself. But my ideal job is no longer what it used to be. I want a flexibility, an understanding boss and health insurance. I am defined by a man these days — my son.

    • elissasblog says:

      Oh, Miss Abigail, you have just taken this to a whole new level, and I thank you for it. Nothing asks for more sacrifices like being a mom. But also, nothing brings more rewards as well (or so I’ve heard, since I am sans-child). It is interesting that you brought up that your thoughts about your career have changed, and I imagine mine would too. Right now, I want a career that allows me to be the best “me” I can be. And then like you, I would want a job that helps me be the best mom I can be.

  11. Elissa,

    I stumbled onto your blog tonight and started going through it (I love it!) and this one in particular hit entirely too close to home. Having been laid off 5 months ago and then broken up with 2 weeks later, I have been grappling with a lot of the questions you posted here and questioning my self-worth. However, after starting a blog of my own with a friend, I discovered that I enjoy writing and entertaining, too. This blog post is smart and entirely correct. I am also praying for the job that lets me be the best me I can be. (That sounded terribly corny…ha!)

    And about the break up, I’m glad he did it because I learned to pick myself up from two really traumatic events and show the world that I can do it. Of course friends, family, and a lot of wine helped along the way. 🙂

    • elissasblog says:

      Hi Kaylee… read some of your posts last night. You gals really love Philly! But thank you so much for checking out my blog. This column came from me really thinking about what is important to me, and what I need to have in my life to be happy. And I guess I really only had time to think about that when I was unemployed. What’s funny is that I really thought most of my responses to this post were going to be about how wrong I am, and how I am making a big mistake saying I’d choose me and my career over love. If people felt that way, they aren’t saying it. But I’m just saying that I need to feel complete and satisfied with myself before I can even think about someone else.

      You got a job a few weeks ago, right? If so, CONGRATS! Keep up with your writing… not only because you love it, but because your blog cracks me up! Thanks again!

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