Going through this life change has been…an experience. There have been really big highs and really big lows for me. Throughout, I really wished I’d had a friend who’d been through a similar situation to be able to talk to someone who really understood where I was coming from and had been in my shoes as an independent, passionate woman balancing her own goals with the goals and ambitions of her partner. And if the internet is good for one thing, it’s cute cat videos. And connecting people. So this is my perspective on the experience thus far in case you are somehow stumbling upon my blog in looking for a friend who has stood in your shoes.
This grad school journey was put in motion years ago; Alex always knew he wanted to get his MBA and 2 years ago, started preparing for the GMAT exam. It always felt far off in the future, something that I didn’t seriously keep on my radar. And truthfully, I tried to talk him out of grad school in the beginning. MBAs are a dime a dozen so in order to really stand out and have a solid return on our (expensive) investment, he was targeting the top MBA programs….none of which are located in Colorado and moving away from Colorado wasn’t high on my list of life priorities.
He narrowed his program search and applied to two schools first round, University of Washington in Seattle and Carnegie Mellon, each targeted for similar but different reasons. Soon after applying, he was notified that he’d been selected to come to campus for an interview with the admissions staff of each program, a critical component to the admissions process. The ball was rolling!
In November, we booked trips to Pittsburgh and Seattle on back-to-back weekends to check out the cities and schools. Each school is selling the student (and partner) on the program and city just as much as the student is selling the school on their qualifications. I found myself pleasantly surprised with Pittsburgh during our long weekend in November (fries on sandwiches and salads certainly helped) and really impressed with the Tepper MBA program.
The following weekend we flew to Seattle. Seattle holds a special place in my heart as we spent our honeymoon there. The long weekend visiting just further affirmed that it’s a city I could see us living in and loving; it has the food and beer scene, is progressive, has interesting history and culture and many businesses – both corporate and startup. Not thinking about the MBA programs, Seattle had my heart.
Alex left both interviews feeling really great about the conversations he’d had and we each left Pittsburgh and Seattle feeling good about the fact that for 2 years, we could see ourselves living in either city.
We then waited for another 4 weeks for Alex to find out if he was accepted to either program and on the same day in December, he was notified that both schools had offered him admission. Woo!
Now it was tough decision time. Alex was extremely attentive to my thoughts and opinions throughout the process and about which program and city was the right choice for *US*, not just for him and I appreciated that but ultimately, this final decision was his to make. After much debate and consideration, Alex officially accepted his admission to Carnegie Mellon in January and the journey got THAT MUCH more real. Holy shit…Pittsburgh!
While extremely proud of my husband and the hard work he’s put in thus far, it was hard not to wonder, ‘well, what the hell am I going to do?’ I’m working a job that I really love and am passionate about and I wasn’t sure about the opportunity to work from home – whether it was even an option or if it was one I wanted. I knew I wanted to stay with Ibotta and I also knew I’d lose a lot by not being in the (very collaborative and fast moving) office. (I have so many more thoughts about this that I’ll cover in another post because, man, I’ve cried a lot of tears about this part.)
We talked through so many iterations of the next 2 years – one where I stayed in Denver for 2 years while he went to school, one where I stayed through the end of 2015 and then moved to Pittsburgh, one where I moved to Pittsburgh and was able to work remotely, one where I moved to Pittsburgh and wasn’t able to work remotely, one where I moved to Pittsburgh and wasn’t able to find a job right away, and on and on.
Ultimately, the right choice was for me to move to Pittsburgh with my husband in July.
For 4 months, I wished for a crystal ball to tell my what the right choice was, for Future Lynne to whisper in my ear and nudge me in the right direction. It’s a tough spot to feel like the choice is between supporting my marriage and husband and growing my own career and goals. Obviously these are not mutually exclusive and I can see that now but for many months, it felt that way and it sucked. A lot. My husband is the most important thing in my life but right now, work is a close second; it felt like no matter the decision I’d be compromising a huge piece of me.
In mid-April, after I’d decided that I’d be moving with Alex, I took a leap of faith and told my boss I’d be moving this summer and asked if there was an opportunity for me to work remotely. My boss and the leadership team approved my request so I’m extremely fortunate to be moving to Pittsburgh with the man I love while still being able to work in a job I love. With these key pieces in place, I’ve felt my stress start to bloom into excitement (slowly; there’s still a lot of sad!)
There’s still much to be worked out – both from a working-remotely perspective but also a holy-shit-we’re-moving-in-6-weeks perspective – but we’re riding the wave and making the most of the limited time left before this major life transition. The goal is to spend as much time with our friends and each other doing all the Colorado things we love one last time before we are officially Pittsburgers and he’s wrapped up in intense schoolwork.
So if you’ve found this post because you’re a partner (or potential partner) of an MBA student who feels the struggle of merging your life goals with your partner’s life goals, I feel you. And as much as I hated it when people told me this, you will find the right choice for you. And the right choice doesn’t mean you have to love it right away but you do have to find peace with your decision and embrace it as best as possible. I’m still trying to find peace and let go of the ‘what ifs’ and the career FOMO but I know that this chapter will shape me in ways I’m not yet expecting. I know this path is the best one for our family and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, ‘Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain or difficulty,’ so I’m taking his word for it. This journey is worth doing!