Career: What is it and who said so?

How do we define a career?

I’m coming to a point in my so-called career where I feel I have to secure some kind of stable position with a good company for at least a few years, minimum.  Hopefully this will be a position full of all the perks and benefits one would want.  Maybe I could even start an IRA.  Maybe I’ll meet someone nice, settle down, and have the little yellow house with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids I’ve always dreamed about.

But who are we kidding?

In this economy (catch-phrase of the decade), you just can’t plan for that kind of life anymore.  I mean, plan all you want, but it’s just not a common plan that actually unfolds like it’s supposed to.  I had always thought that was the life I was supposed to end up with but now I realize it’s not so easy.  Especially considering my choice of career.  

As an ESL teacher, I’m really only guaranteed a full-time job teaching when I’m overseas.  In the US, I’m lucky to find a job that gives me more than 30 hours per week.  I’m even luckier if I can find one with benefits.  But, that’s the nature of teaching ESL domestically.  Doesn’t mean it’s not a real job or that I can’t make a career out of it.  

And yet, I’m being told by some that I need to start thinking seriously about what I’m going to do with my life.  I’ve got a Master’s in Comparative Education, my passion is teaching, and I’m getting paid to do it (albeit not much).  I am enjoying my current job here in California and I intend to stay for a good while.  But if, in the future, I decide to go abroad again, I don’t see that as a problem.  Sure, maybe I’ll have a partner and maybe a kid or two by then (wishful thinking), but why should that stop me from sharing the world with my family?

I’m tired of people telling me I have to choose between travel or career, family or living abroad, this or that, blah blah or blah blah blah.  Who says I have to choose?  Why can’t I just combine these things?  Yes, yes, I understand that priorities change when you have children and money gets tight and so on and so forth… but it’s not impossible.  There are plenty of people around the world who make it work.  It’s currently my theory that most people are just too afraid to try.

Having a family really means a lot to me but I know I’m not in a position to start one at this point in time.  I want to be able to provide for my family and I realize I’m probably going to have to make a lot of sacrifices in the future for the sake of my family.  That said, I feel that if I had the chance to take my family with me and experience the world together, it would do them so much more good than being cooped up in one town forever and not traveling at all.  I’ve found a way to travel and make a living, and I know it could be doable with a partner/family too.  I don’t see why doing what you love can’t be your career.  And I definitely think that raising a family while living/working abroad is still an option.