From Our Readers
October 07, 2014 11:57 am

Five years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the girl who sacrificed her own dreams to put her boyfriend’s first. I would have said, “There’s no way I would ever give up my plans for a man.” I would have shaken my head at the girl who stays at home every day while waiting to get a work permit. Following your boyfriend around? Please. A stay-at-home girlfriend? Ugh. But then something happened. I fell in love, yes, but more importantly, I grew up.

And about a month ago, I made a big life decision. But let me rewind.

Up until around mid-summer, I had a pretty straightforward short-term plan: I had spent the past two years in grad school, got my master’s degree in May, took the summer off, and was supposed to go back to school in September to begin my PhD. Though I wasn’t entirely sold on this plan (not wanting to spend more time in school, not convinced my topic was right for me, not really wanting to wait until age 30 to start looking for my first “real” job), I was planning on sticking with it because, well, it was something. Being in school felt easy and right to me, because up until then, that was pretty much all I had known. It felt easier to go through with a plan I wasn’t too sure about than to not have a plan at all.

Well, halfway through my summer off, my significant other was offered a job in Canada. We had lived together for three years, so his taking the job would either mean my moving with him (and consequently changing my own plans), or our living separately. We weren’t willing to go with the latter option, so we had many long talks about whether or not he should take it, and what that would mean to both of us.

After much debate, we finally decided that he should take it and we would move. Much to my surprise, I was actually more pro-taking-it than he was. Being unconvinced of my own plan (which, in retrospect, I realize was really more of a time-killer than a plan), I figured he might as well pursue his and I could follow along and figure something out. I was up for the adventure. So he took it, and we moved.

I’m happy where I’m at and have absolutely no regrets about leaving grad school; but from time to time, my inner independent woman screams out at me: what are you doing!? Am I just the girl who followed her boyfriend to another country, the girl who gave up her PhD for her boyfriend, the girl who put her boyfriend’s hopes and dreams before her own?

When we made the decision to move–well, that’s just it. We made the decision. He didn’t decide to move, we did. I didn’t follow him to another country, we moved together. If I hadn’t been willing to change my plans, we would have stayed. As two mature, reasonable adults, we weighed our options carefully and made the decision that we thought would be best for each of us individually and for us as a whole.

I can’t help but wonder: if we were married, would I have to justify this decision to others? Would I have to justify this decision to myself? I don’t think so. Married couples move and change plans and make sacrifices for each other and their families all the time, right? So why is it that I still feel the need to justify myself?

I am a rational, strong, and independent woman. But I’m also a loving, compassionate, and understanding woman. Sometimes life calls for a change of plans, and–man or woman–it’s going to be a whole lot harder if you’re not willing to go with those changes. Together, my partner and I decided to change our plans. We decided to take on a new adventure together. And you know what? I’m totally OK with that.

Erica Piper is a writer from Michigan who loves all things related to food, French, and pirates. In her down time she enjoys traveling, taking photos, and figuring out ways to become part of the Gang on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She spends way too much time on Instagram and writes things on her blog, Getting It.

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