This summer, I made the decision to quit my job and move to Canada with my boyfriend of five years.
In the beginning, I felt very uncertain and even self-conscious about the whole thing. I was leaving my country, my job, and my comfort zone, and as several people (myself included) put it, I was doing it all for my boyfriend. Ugh.
But despite what you might think, making this decision has not ruined me for life. In fact, it’s taught me a lot about who I am and what I want out of life. Most importantly, I’ve learned to overcome my own self-doubts and not care about what others think.
Deciding to move was actually a pretty easy decision for me. He had been offered a job in his home country, and our options were clear: stay together, or be separated. Unwilling to even consider the second option, we decided to move together. After all, it was a good career move for him, and I felt that I had nothing to lose, and so the decision was made.
When I told my family, friends, and colleagues, everyone was extremely supportive of me. My mom gave me her classic line, “I support every decision you make, sweetie,” and the people at work said they were sad to see me go, but completely understood. My friends envied my taking on a new adventure and couldn’t wait to come visit me. I had the support to back up my decision. So why did I still feel all weird and self-conscious about what I was doing?
I was excited to turn a new corner in my life and see where this journey would take me. But I still knew I was giving something up. In spite of myself, I couldn’t silence the girl inside me who had always told me to follow my own dreams, to be strong and independent, and most importantly, to never (ever!) make sacrifices for a guy.
I had always had this fear of choosing a dumb boy over some grand adventure, and then eventually breaking up with that dumb boy and regretting not choosing the adventure instead. As a young woman, I swore to myself long ago to never let that happen. Is that what I was doing now? Was this all a mistake that I would look back at someday and regret?
I couldn’t get the image out of my head of some girl who follows her boyfriend around, who has no goals and aspirations of her own, whose career doesn’t really matter, who lives to please her man. And then, to make matters worse, this guy wasn’t even my husband, but my boyfriend! What if it didn’t work out? What a foolish decision. What a dumb girl.
I knew that my boyfriend wasn’t making me move. I knew that if our situations were reversed and I had been offered a great job across the world, he would have moved with me. I knew it didn’t matter if we were married or had been together for five years or had known each other for two weeks. I loved him and he loved me, and we wanted to be together. We decided to move somewhere together, something couples do all the time. I knew all of this, but that didn’t make me any less self-conscious about what others might think of me.
The truth is, I really don’t think anyone else cared as much as I thought they did. No one else was judging me as harshly as I had feared. As I said, whenever I told anyone, even strangers, that I was moving to Canada with my boyfriend, they supported me. They acted like it was a completely normal thing to do.
They said things like, “Now is the time to do it, while you’re young!” and “Oh my god, how exciting! I envy you!” As with most other things in my life, I was own biggest critic. But I eventually realized that even if others were judging me, it really shouldn’t bother me.
Why did I even feel the need to justify myself and defend my decision? It was my decision to make, and no one else’s. I realized that part of being that strong, independent woman was not caring about what others may (or may not) think. It was my choice to make, and I decided to silence my own self-doubts and just do it.
So I left everything behind and moved to another country “for my boyfriend.” And guess what! It didn’t totally ruin my life. Sure, there have been some struggles (work permits, the metric system, and spelling words with an “ou” instead of an “o”), but there have also been a lot of good things to come out of all this.
I’ve learned that I am both brave and strong. It takes a lot of courage to let someone into your life, and it takes even more courage to take a chance alongside that person. It may sound like a cliché, but life really is too short to sit something out and be left wondering “what if?”
I said I would never choose my boyfriend over some great adventure. This time, I chose my boyfriend and a great adventure, which is a lot more exciting, if you ask me. My self-doubt has turned into self-respect. I’ve learned to let go of what others might think and to really feel confident in my own decisions. And in doing so, I’ve realized that I really am that strong woman I always wanted to be.