When I was starting my career as a young creative director I had a much more experienced collegue in the agency. His sons were my age. I was very fast and furious at the time. I was in that ‘ I know what I want and I want it now’ – mode… So, at that time I was also applying for Canadian residence. I had an idea to immigrate to Canada.
This colleague of mine actually came back from Canada a few years before.
And he told me a very wise thing: two most important things in your life are who you are going to marry (have kids with) and whether you are going to leave your country of birth and live somewhere else.
At the time I thought it’s just a tired old man’s story. How could something be more important than career choices? More important than selecting your profession? Moving to Canada? What is the big deal? I already have Serbia under my feet. How hard can it be to conquer Canada?
Fifteen years later, the words of my more experienced colleague could not resonate more.
I have more friends living abroad then in Serbia. And I have more single than married/partnered friends. I don’t believe that being partnered and having kids is a pre-condition for a happy life. Also, living in a good, settled, organized country is not a guaranty for happiness. But I’m not telling you anything new… There are happy and unhappy people everywhere, single, partnered, Mormons…
The thing is that in my generation those two most important decisions used to be made under a huge pressure of having a career. In some parts of the world due to the fact that it was the only way to survive, and in some parts of the world due to the fact that society and media pressure was so big. To put career in front of anything else. So instead on focusing on the person one is supposed to marry, many people were married to their jobs. Instead of trying to understand if one can be happy thousands of miles from home, better career options were the deal makers to move, to immigrate…
“Just one more promotion and then I can start thinking about kids… I can’t afford a break now… Yes, and one more, just this last one… Ooops! I’m 46…”
“Just another year, and I will have enough money to go back home… It’s such a long winter… But, it will be better in June, when spring comes… I miss spring so much…”
“Hotel number 378, country number 57, golden status in 5 loyalty programs, 3 wives, ex-wives, a couple of kids, somewhere…”
“I love it here in Canada. We had nothing in Serbia, nothing… Now we have a house, we have our vacations on Caribbean islands. Every year, a different one. Kids are dancing Serbian folklore. They don’t speak Serbian among themselves… But who cares…”
“Twenty years of high school graduation. Already divorced? Oh good, shared custody. You can see your kids every other weekend? Nice car by the way… Company car.”
“I love my country. But I can’t live here anymore. Not because the living is bad. But because so many people around me are living badly. I’m terrified all the time that I can end up like of them.”
“The World is a global village now… This is the 6th country where I’m living. But I never change my expat support group.”
I decided who I’ll have kids with before I got married. Before I got married to my job, I mean.
I never lived in Canada. We got our residence cards. But we never moved there. Because I was already married to the job.
With all ups and downs I don’t regret the first one. With all ups and downs I regret the second one. Not because I want to live in Canada. Actually, I don’t. But because I have made that decision by taking too much into account what my job is. Not who I am.
Your career will come and go. And it’s always in transition. We must learn how to live with it and how to focus our attention to more important things. The most important things. Who we will have our kids with and where we are going to live.
Movie recommendation for this week is Far and Away (1992). Directed by Ron Howard. Movie that’s a bit cheesy, but I love it. And it’s about who to marry and where to live.