Dancing the Liberal Line

So, this might make people mad. Who knows. But I believe people should be able to disagree and be nice about it. And this has been bugging me for a while, so I’m blogging about it. Just like I blog about nearly everything else in my life.

I am in a very liberal department. I think most English/literature departments are probably the same. It comes from looking beyond what is right in front of us to the meanings behind everything. We look for connections and motivations and reasons.

I would also consider myself to be pretty liberal, especially with social issues. I believe in equality for all, not just those that fit into a box that some people feel everyone should fall into. It’s something I’ve always believed and worked hard to demonstrate in my own life.

That being said, I also feel that some people get their panties in a bunch over nothing. Some people feel the need to find an argument or a fight in nothing. Also, people are fully capable of disagreeing about a topic, but still being respectful and considerate. A thoughtful discussion can happen with the understanding that neither party is trying to tell the other that they are wrong or trying to persuade the other to change their opinion. I love discussions like that. Discussing ideas and opinions and ideologies in a respectful manner.

However, in my department, many of my colleagues seem to believe that we should all think and act in the same way.

In my department, I’m a bit of an outlier.

See, I don’t fit the typical liberal master’s student mold.

Many that I am in school with equate liberal with feminist. And in a lot of ways, I agree with many of the feminist ideals. Equality. Reproductive rights. Not being forced into stereotypical social positions simply based on gender.

But I don’t seem to garner the same respect.

I married young, which tends to go against the ideas a lot of my classmates have. A lot of them don’t want to get married or tend to put their nose in the air when they find out that I married at 23.

Also, I want kids. I have always wanted to be a mom at some point. But I believe that I am also in a field that will allow me to be a mom and have a career that I love. As a college professor, I will get a whole lot more freedom in arranging my schedule so that I can still be with and raise my kids.

I also want a house with a yard. I want to be able to paint walls and hang things up and if I screw something up, not being terrified that my landlord is going to be pissed. I won’t be happy that I messed it up, but then I can fix it, or not, because the house will be mine.

For some reason, I’m the odd man out. Last year, I can’t even count the number of times that I was made fun of by “friends” when these topics would come up. I quickly learned that I would not be able to discuss these things with these people without being ridiculed both to my face, and more than likely, behind my back.

However, the most recent barrage of loaded questions and side glances is that of what I’m not doing right now.

I’m not applying for PhD programs.

You see, my husband and I graduate next May. As many of you know, the legal job market isn’t great. A lot of job markets pretty much suck right now, but the legal one seems to really be struggling. So many young people went to law school because they didn’t know what else to do, so there is an influx of lawyers in a job market that was hit just as hard as anyone else.

Because of this, I’m not applying for PhD programs since we have NO CLUE where we will be living next year. We don’t know where Mr. A will be getting a job and how much he will be making or how long it will take us to get settled.

So, I’m making the smart and, in my mind, commonsensical decision to hold off. I don’t want to apply to some school, love it and get my hopes up, to only find out that my husband got a job 3 states over.

I have no problem holding off a year, waiting to see where we will be, then applying for schools in the area. I will get more time to take the GRE and really decide where I want to go. I get to apply for jobs and hopefully get a bit of a break from being a student and just work for once. Only have work responsibilities and not also stressing over papers and such.

But to the super liberals in my department, I am an alien. Also, I apparently don’t care about feminist issues and only wanted an MRS degree since I’m waiting to see where Mr. A’s career takes us.

If I hear one more time, “Well why doesn’t he follow you?” or “Why can’t he find a job where you get into a PhD program?” I might scream.

Had I been in a program that say only 5 schools in the country had, then Mr. A would be all about looking for jobs in those places.

Because we support each other 100%.

But I’m not. Most big or decent size schools have my program. Possibly even close schools would allow me to do it via the internet. So I’m waiting.

I don’t even like to call it compromising because I don’t feel that I am giving up a thing. This is what I want. I’m in a very supportive marriage. My husband was the one pushing me to do this and will do what he has to in order to make sure that I get to finish out my program, like I want to.

Just because I’m not immediately moving from my master’s into my PhD, doesn’t mean that I’ve reverted to a 1950s housewife that cleans in pearls and has dinner on the table at 6pm every night and is satisfied with a slap on the ass as my thank you.

That’s not me. That’s not the woman Mr. A married and it’s not at all the wife he wants. He likes that I have career ambitions and am educated and am not satisfied yet, that I’m striving for more.

I just hate that apparently I can’t have a career and thoughts AND a family. Why do those have to be separate things? Why can’t I have both without feeling like I am on the defensive all the time? Why can’t I give them a hard time for moving straight into the next program, for sleeping around, for never wanting to own a property because “it’s so much easier for someone else to be responsible for it”, for never wanting kids?

That’s right. Because I am a believer in each person doing what is right for them. One of my good friends never wants kids, so maybe I don’t send her pictures of cute/funny kid things I find, but she also jokes about kidnapping me for girls’ nights once I do have a baby. I know she will be happy for us, but I also won’t try to push my ideas about motherhood on her. To be honest, I will be happy to have a friend that doesn’t want to talk about breastfeeding and poopy diapers.

I just want some mutual respect for my life decisions. I’m not out doing heroine or stealing things or hurting others. I’m following my dreams, and those dreams comingle a career and a family life.

Sorry for the rant. I’m just so aggravated with all of this right now and I just want to feel like I’m doing the right thing. I KNOW I am. But I hate feeling like I have to defend it or that I’m being talked about since I’m not out at the bars 4 nights a week.

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5 Comments

Filed under A little More About Me, Grad School?, Life After College, Married Life

5 responses to “Dancing the Liberal Line

  1. I’d be aggravated too. Just because you choose to do something different doesn’t make it wrong. That’s like something I was reading yesterday from someone on FB. They were saying that the students should ban together to get rid of it because she didn’t like their statement, but the statement wasn’t said in hate, it was someone’s beliefs, but they automatically decided it was hate. Well I felt like this person was hating right back and because someone was following their beliefs!

    Universities are so liberal, and while they have the right to be however, I hate when they push it on the students. Kids are still finding themselves in college, they should be allowed to form their own opinions and not have it forced on them. I remember my aunt saying around the 2000 elections that one of her professors would lecture about why they should vote for a particular candidate. She was really annoyed by that.

  2. Totally hear you. I married at 19 and was married most of college; I was a HUGE outlier. (In law school I was older, but not that much and frankly, didn’t want to spend much time around other law students, anyway!)

    Remember it’s temporary and that when the time comes, they’ll be making the same decisions you are now. You’re just ahead of the curve. 🙂

  3. that’s one of my biggest frustrations with some feminists (ie: those who describe themselves as that); i believe in equality, i believe that we’ll have succeeded when you and i are looked at equally regardless of when/if we married, had kids, or the direction of our careers. to me, feminism is being free to make my own choices and not because of someone else’s opinion. these people looking down on you are no better than misogynist men who believe women belong nowhere but in the home.

    you do your thing. and screw them.

  4. Giiiiiiirl I moved to Alaska to follow a man who I wasn’t even married to. I wrestle with the same issues. I consider myself a feminist as well, but here I am jumping through hoops for the person I love. We can be contradictions.

    Next time someone gives you shit, stand tall. They don’t walk in your shoes. And some day when you have a beautiful home and kids you can invite them over smile knowing your life is the one you want. Hang in there.

  5. I can only imagine how frustrating that is! I am currently supporting a law student in his last year of school, so I can understand the overwhelming need to get them on their way and get a good job post-graduation. I think you are doing the right thing in waiting to apply – because you have no idea where you might end up! It’s hard to have things up in the air but time will bring you the next step in your married life and it will work out. Just ignore the crazies who think you aren’t doing the right thing, because you are totally awesome and right in what you’re doing for your family.

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