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Why My Career Is My Focus Right Now (Instead of Other Traditional Life Choices)

While there is nothing wrong with either choice, I'm focusing my twenties on building my career.

As a twenty-something woman in the South, there are plenty of expectations about what my life should be like. I am expected to get married, have babies, and a house complete with a white picket fence.

These expectations work for plenty of women. I have friends who are my age who are married with wonderful children. But I am not. I am single and childless pursuing a graduate degree while establishing myself in a new field and volunteering on top of it all. For now, my career and my life are my focus.

For me, for now, I want to work as much as I can.

Marriage and children are a blessing — I can’t wait for that chapter of my life. But let’s be realistic, children change everything. Your life changes, as it should, when you have a child. I want to work a lot now and when it is time to have children focus as much of my attention as possible on them.

According to Goldman Sachs, I am not alone in waiting to get married: “Millennials have been putting off significant milestones like marriage and children. But that doesn’t mean they want to stay single forever.” 

In the 1970s the median age for marriage was 23; now it is 30. Additionally the percent of young people married and living on their own has dropped by more than 50% since the 1960s.

So what are the perks of waiting for these significant life changes?

Here are some things I am doing that I think you all will enjoy and find value in…

1. You can focus on your career.

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg tells us are careers are a jungle gym not a ladder. I learned that firsthand when I switched not only jobs, but my career path last July. I loved my job but have entered into a career path that I love almost as equally.

During your time of unmarried bliss you can focus on your career. Is this the right job or role for you? If not, can you find another one? Take risks now when they are a bit ‘safer’.

2. You can focus on professional development.

Now I am not saying you can’t do this when you are married or when you have children, but you can focus more time on you now. No, it isn’t selfish. Use this time to (as Oprah would say) create the life you want.

I listen to podcasts like crazy. For you it may be reading, going to conferences or meeting with a mentor. Whatever it is for you, use this time to develop yourself.

3. You can continue your education on your time.

Grad school isn’t for everyone and again, you can do it while having children (a good friend of mine went to school with two young boys at home). I recently started graduate school and it has added a good bit to my plate.

If you are thinking about going to graduate school (or finishing up a bachelor’s degree) going before children may be a good idea especially if you will work while in school like I am.

4. You can find out what you enjoy doing.

For me it is volunteering (and binge watching TV ? ). This period in your life is a great time to try new things and figure out what you like to do and what you don’t like to do.

Explore, travel, do cool things!

5. You can save money.

Yes this isn’t as exciting, but children are expensive. They are cute and wonderful, but babies cost money. I see my time as a single person to prepare my finances for the next phase of my life.

6. Make healthy living (as you see it) a priority.

This is something I am still working on, but if we can create healthy habits in our lives now, we will carry those into marriage and motherhood.

For me I want to that to look like making fitness a part of my life. For you that may be different. Whatever it looks like, make your health a priority.

You only have one body and if you are going to be your best you need your body to cooperate down the road.

For me, marriage can wait. A family can wait. There are so many joys about being single. I have learned so much about myself in this time of being single and I cherish it.

 Other GenTwenty articles to check out:

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About the Author

Jessica Sharp

Jessica Sharp is passionate about empowering underserved and minority communities, diverse representation, and brain education. Jessica is the Founder and Chief Educator of Sharp Brain Consulting which works with public service agencies to provide education about the brain and its effect on organizational outcomes. Additionally, she is on the leadership team of Meals on Wheels in her town of Greenville, SC. She is completing a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Upon her completion, she will attend William James College to obtain a Doctorate of Psychology. Follow her on twitter at @sharpjes.