“Are you sure you’re leaving?”
People have asked me that question many times after I declared my decision to move to Ankara, Turkey with my husband. And I hated it. I hated it because every time they asked, I had to ask myself too.
You see, life was going well for me back home. I was Assistant Division Chief for Legal Services in CSC Region 5, working 8-10 hours a day, and practicing law in ways that made me happy. I taught a couple of law subjects and socialized with fellow lawyers after work. I had a decent income which allowed me to buy a car, an insurance plan, and yes- even invest in the stock market. For two years, I tried to build my way to a long-term career in government service and started my journey to financial freedom on the side. Ah, I was a happy 29-year old.
So when my husband told me that he was getting assigned to Turkey for six years, I could only show half-hearted enthusiasm. All kinds of worry ran through my mind. Should I go with him? But I’m only a lawyer in Philippine soil! What about my career? My bills? Who will pay for all them? How can I support my family if I had no job? Thinking about all those things made me the most anxious post-honeymoon wife.
I guess what really gave me a hard time was the fear of losing everything I’ve worked hard for. I wanted to be a lawyer since high school. I chose a university course that offered many law subjects and I twice refused opportunities to work in a commercial bank because it would get in the way of law school. So when I finally became a lawyer in 2012, I did little fist-punches in the air because I got my ticket to dreaming bigger dreams. Three years into the profession and I was still getting the hang of it. You could just imagine my struggle before deciding to go. My husband and I talked about it over and over again because I kept changing my mind. One day, I’m totally sure about going, the next day I’m making other plans. That’s how fickle I got.
Leave, Cleave, and Statistics
Then we attended a pre-marriage counselling. The one that you HAVE to attend before the church actually allows you to get married. I didn’t take it seriously, thinking we’d learn nothing new from it. Lo and behold – we did! We were brought back to Bible teachings on marriage and how spouses should “be glued to each other”. I pushed a little to the literal side and decided – where my husband is, there I’ll be too. To me, it was no longer about a battle of the sexes or gender stereotyping. I was choosing what I knew would make us both happy.
Pessimist statistics like this one from www.longdistancerelationshipstatistics.com also helped me decide:
4.5 months – the average time before a long distance relationship breaks down
40 % of all long distance relationships ends with a break-up
70 % of all failed long distance relationships fails due to unplanned changes
I would much rather ride a roller coaster at the risk of heart attack than be part of that statistics. Perhaps there’s something there for me, I told myself.
Sad Reality. Reborn Hopes
We arrived here and my hopes of finding a job at international organizations sank after a month of seeing vacancies that all required fluent Turkish. Fluent! How was I supposed to match that now? I can’t even say “I speak Turkish” in Turkish! This started to affect my disposition and I felt sad at the end of each day because I felt unproductive. On the 4th week, I wanted to go back home and start working again. Then one night, my husband came home exhausted from a day’s work. He shared to me his day and how he was thankful he had me to go home to. My heart melted and I knew then that I made the right decision – where my husband is, there I’ll be too. After all, he would have done the same for me if he had to.
Pumped by the newfound energy, I went looking for options the next day. I found an online course (for an international certification which I’ll talk about only after I get it), paid the fees, and it’s keeping me busy now. When I say “busy now”, I don’t count household work because that’s a given. I also decided to take this blog to a higher, more focused level and write until I want to. I can finish the books I never had time to read before, and learn new skills I wouldn’t even think of if I was lawyering. With the right mindset, this new set-up isn’t that bad after all.
So is my career on hold? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I won’t let it stop me from living.