Once Upon a Time, I Was A Planner

-written by ML, a current graduate wife

When it comes to short term things I’m pretty spontaneous, but in life I’m a planner. I might decide when I wake up to go to a museum that day, but I want to know where I’ll be at this time next year. Needless to say not knowing where we’ll be next month is really taking its toll.

I didn’t freak out around October when the other wives started to, “I can roll with not knowing until January” I said. But… it’s May! Not just May, the middle of May! Not all of the jobs my husband applied for are academic. I didn’t think about it at the time, but that means while others secured their faculty and postdoc positions last winter, we’re just now getting emails saying his application wasn’t discarded with the first round and in a few months they’ll have a short list.

But, but, but, we need to know if we should renew our lease for another year soon. What if we renew and then have to move? What if we don’t and move in with someone while we wait and then he doesn’t get any of them? What if we pay for a move to crash in someone’s basement and then have to move to a totally different area for a job?  What will we do financially?

This has done something interesting to my planner mind. This has caused me to plan and stress out about five hypothetical situations, ready to put into action the one we’ll need: If we move there we’ll be poorer than we are now, but if we move there we will need a second car, but if we move there I won’t be able to find work…

I bought guards for teeth grinding. I stopped going to department social events because I just can’t tell the same people over and over “No, we still don’t know, just like we didn’t know last week, just like we didn’t know the week before.”

We have a back-up plan, but even that is stressful when you don’t know if or when you’ll need it and that you probably won’t be happy doing it. I’ve written before about how we don’t like it here, yet the prospect of a term job here has helped quell my panic attacks to one per week when I think about the things I’ll miss when (if?) we leave. It helps to talk about it to each other. We haven’t solved anything yet but bouncing ideas off each other instead of bottling it up helps. Telling my parents not to ask me about it every single day helped.  Getting caught up in a book helps.

I don’t have any insightful answers to this. I don’t have an “it all worked out” ending yet. It’s not an easy life we chose, but given the option I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

As a graduate wife, how do you deal with uncertainty? If you’re a planner, how do you deal with not being able to plan ahead?

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3 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time, I Was A Planner

  1. I’m thankful for this post, and the knowledge I’m not alone.
    I have an amazing life in a quaint wee township. I have a lot of incredible support, a strong community, and this feels like home. When my husband returned to complete his undergrad, I lived with this uncertainty. When he received his scholarship – I relaxed, this is home.

    But only for another 2 1/2 years.

    I nearly live in fear of having my roots settle too far, and sometimes it’s a consuming fear. Yet, I am SO so proud of my husband, and genuinely believe in his research.

    Some days I’m logical, and I trust, and I get on with it.

    Other days I don’t.

    Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone :)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this with such honesty and vulnerability, ML. I know that all of us who’ve been through the application stage can identify with your uncertainty for the future. Sending prayers, good thoughts, and wishes for the future, wherever the plans may lead!

  3. I completely relate! We know where we are until August, but after that we just don’t know! My husband is finishing up his degree in Scotland and looking for a job and we’ve got a baby on the way. I pray for peace, patience, and trust and that helps me. I also try to focus on enjoying the present day because worrying does no good it only makes me miserable!

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