I'm scared to tell BF about my career ambitions. In short, I am terrified of having to eventually (as in, within the next 2-5 months) reveal to my boyfriend what my career ambitions are. Much of this is related to his family and my lack of self-confidence / significant fear of failure. How would you tell him? How would you react?
posted by overyourhead to human relations (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been with my BF for 7 months. Our relationship is perfect, aside from this problem I'm having which will continue to grow if I don't face my fears. We love each other so much, and we both know that marriage is in our future at some point down the line. For now, he's concerned with me going back to school to pursue a graduate/professional program. He wants that for me as much as I want that for me; we both know I'd be wasting my intellect by not going back to school.
I'm currently studying for a test in October so that this fall I can apply to a certain professional school. As far as my BF knows, I'm studying for a test in October so that this fall I can apply to graduate school.
Up until recently, he's never asked me specifically what kind of program. That means, I've never had to lie. He knows that I have a strong educational background in the sciences, so I'm assuming he figured I've been looking to get into PhD programs in the specific area I've studied.
Here is my dilemma: For the past year, I've been really interested in pursuing X career, requiring me to attend the 3 year program. I've been hesitant to tell my BF about my interest in this career because he comes from his family in which there are many relatives who have this profession. His father and brother are both successful X'ers.
I've also been hesitant to tell him due to my own personal issues. I've been out of school for 3 years. This wasn't intentional. Shortly after graduating college, I developed a severe medical condition and so was in and out of hospitals and residental treatment programs for one year. (During this time, I was too sick mentally and physically do to anything but focus on my health -- so no job, school, volunteer work, etc.). After that year, I started a new job. I was glad to be working and ready to start studying to take the exam in January.
In November, I was involved in a major major major accident. I spent a few weeks in the ICU. Once home, I was bed-ridden (as in, can't sit up let alone walk, need assistance to use the bathroom) for a few weeks. For the next 3 months I was in treatment for my multiple injuries. During this time I was in a restrictive device -- couldn't move easily, obviously couldn't drive or have a job, etc. I was considered disabled. By the end of March of this year -- not even 3 months ago -- was able to be "well enough" to at least have a job, start driving on my own again, etc. I'm still having complications, but at this point my neurosurgeon's only advice for me is to wait. He thinks this is the best I'm going to get. I'm well enough to work, study, use my brain, etc. I'm just dealing with some neurological and spinal issues that are nothing in comparison to how I was a few months ago. I'm alive and I'm not quadraplegic, so I'm content.
So the January exam was obviously out. My next option was to take the June test, but because of complications from the aforementioned accident, I had to miss that one too. The last test I can possibly take is in October. At this point, nothing is in my way of studying and preparing for it.
The issue behind being secretive about my ambitions is this: I have a major fear of rejection and very little self-confidence. So many times in the past few years since graduating from college have I tried to pursue some academic path, only to be deterred by some major obstacle. After experiencing each of these medical conditions, my outlook on life has changed. I've learned where my real interests lie. I enjoy and excelled in the sciences, but I don't want a career in that area. I want to do X.
The only people who know I'm studying for this specific exam and planning on applying to these specific professional schools are my sister and parents. My fear is that something will come up, I'll be deterred (which equates to failure in my eyes), and everyone will think, "Oh, look at _____. She's so dumb. She would have never made it anyway."
The pressure is on with regard to this career because my boyfriend's father and brother have this career. I don't want my BF telling his family (with whom I am close), and then knowing all of them are secretly analyzing / critiquing me.
At this rate, I will be ready to take the test in October. I have no doubt that I will get accepted into the school I want to attend. (Coincidentally, BF's brother attended the same school.) But eventually I'm going to have to tell my BF exactly what this test is and what kind of school I'm planning on attending next fall. I expect to tell him in September.
Like I said, he's never asked for specifics until now. Last week, I casually mentioned that I was looking at various programs. He asked me what type of graduate programs was I looking into. I never responded to his text. Earlier this week he asked me about the specifics of the classes I'm starting in a few weeks (classes I'm taking to get my brain back into gear; they are related to the profession I'm pursuing). At that point I lied. I said "Oh, just biology stuff. I don't really want to talk about it." I could tell he was minorly annoyed or upset, but that was it. Meanwhile, I felt awful. It was gutwrenching having to blantantly lie to the man I love like that.
Sorry for the length. I guess my questions are:
1) How shitty of a GF am I from withholding this info from him? (I would explain exactly why I did this, and he's familiar with my fear of sharing my ambitions with *others* -- not so much with him.)
2) How would you react if you were my BF? Sad that I had to do this? Extremely angry? Grounds for breaking up? What impact would this have on your level of trust for your SO? Trust is very important to me.
3) Should I just tell him ASAP (as in, within the next week)? If so, how can I get the conversation going?
I'm so ashamed of myself. I love him so much and I fear I'm sabotaging our relationship. This is truly our (mine?) only problem area. We are scarily compatible in every other way. We are each other's best friend. We can communicate, we can handle disagreements without getting into arguments, etc. He stood by me after the accident and was incredibly supportive, which says a lot about his character. It's perfect. I have a longstanding history of physical/sexual/emotional abuse beginning in childhood, so I couldn't ask for a better boyfriend. His presence in my life has definitely helped me to heal emotionally and be happy.