“The conflict between career ambition and relationships lies at the heart of many of our current cultural debates...Ambition drives people forward; relationships and community, by imposing limits, hold people back.” - Emily Esfehani Smith
A recent article in The Atlantic by cultural critic Emily Esfehani Smith titled “Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition” caught my attention. Many millennials I know are busy concentrating on their careers; they’re so caught up in the pulse of work, social media, and the world around them that they they’ve lost sight of the things that make life most meaningful: relationships.
It’s true that having a career that is enjoyable and rewarding can bring immense personal satisfaction. Perfecting skills and seeing your talents unfold leaves you feeling great. Yet at the end of the day, we all long for something more. We want the presence of someone to love and cherish.
And so the question beckons: what do we—driven millennials—do when our career ambition collides with our desire for marriage, relationships and settling down?
I’m an ambitious 22-year-old in the conservative political realm. On top of a full-time job, I blog, maintain some semblance of a social life, and enjoy quality family time. I keep myself busy and have my priorities in check. I know what I’m looking for in a potential husband and life partner. And yet, like so many other young professionals, balancing my career with the desire to settle down in the future is a real challenge. Yes, we still dream of finding Prince Charming (whoever he is), getting married, and having kids. We’d also like to land our ideal jobs.
Added to that tension of family and career goals is the disenchantment I and so many others feel with today’s dating culture. Both men and women are guilty of making the hook-up culture the new norm, although radical feminism has greatly propelled it. But why should I compromise my value system for a one night stand with a stranger? The frustrations of today’s dating scene have a tendency to push many marriage minded millennials toward their career and away from serious consideration of marriage.
So where do we go to find a balance between family aspirations and vocational goals? Where do we go to find encouragement that we can hope for more than just hooking up?
Whenever I grow dispirited, I look to my family. My parents recently celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary. My paternal grandparents were married 55 years, while my maternal grandparents were married 53 years. Our predecessors show us that lifelong marriage is not only possible, but it can be a beautiful thing. While it might be difficult to find “the one” in today’s world, our generation shouldn’t give up on marriage.
It’s almost certain that millennials are going to be presented with many career opportunities, but fewer opportunities to get married. So my encouragement would be that whenever opportunity knocks, open the door. Don’t simply get caught up in a career. Rather, open the door to marriage whenever it presents itself.Media: