Moving

REPOST: Starting Over

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Over the course of the next few weeks, Universities around the world will open their doors to new students. Some of those students will be moving away from home for the first time; some will be beginning graduate studies with families in tow; some will be newly married, learning to navigate a new city together; but all of them have one thing in common: they are starting over.

I love meeting new students and their families. Their excitement is written on their facial expressions. They are ecstatic to be on a new journey, in a new city. They remind of me of the white patent leather shoes I wore on Easter as a child; the ones that were shiny and new, untouched by the antics of childhood.

But what happens when the newness of starting over wears off?

As I think back eight years ago to our first move on our graduate journey, I remember being a newlywed in love wanting nothing more than to assist fulfilling my husband’s dream of completing his Masters. I jumped in with both feet, excited about the endless possibilities and opportunities that lay before us. It didn’t take long for the newness to wear off. Several months later, I thought, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?” I was navigating a new city, commuting to a new job, and missing my husband who was spending obscene amounts of time at the library. It took a couple of years before I finally found my footing again, and I can give credit for that to the women (some grad wives, some not) who invited me to be part of their community.

As you are out and about over the next few weeks, you are going to bump into various women – women who have given up their careers and left friends and family far behind to follow their husbands so they can attend school – women who will be looking for a new community, a place they can call home – women who would really just like a cup of coffee or glass of wine with a new friend to hear that graduate life isn’t so bad, and often times is actually very sweet.

And I ask….will you be that new community, that new friend?

For you former and current graduate wives, this is a great time of year to sit back and remember what it was like for you as a new graduate wife, when you moved and started over. What were your biggest joys? Your biggest fears? Would you do anything differently? How did you handle giving up your career if you had to? What were your biggest struggles? You have knowledge to influence and inspire the next generation of upcoming graduate wives.

What are some ways you could do that?

Be hospitable. Open your home. Include new faces at your dinner parties. Invite new friends for coffee or drinks. Give someone a bottle of wine. Bake chocolate chip cookies and drop them by a new graduate wife’s house. If you know someone moving to your city, make them dinner and bring it over the first night they arrive. Make them feel welcomed and loved on this new adventure.

Be willing to include new people to your group. Take the time to meet new people! Introduce them to your current friends. You never know who you might meet. I have a friend who used to live here in Oxford who was known as the ‘friend collector.’ It was a term of endearment, because she was always with someone new, inviting new people over for dinner, meeting a new friend for drinks, and introducing those new friends to her old ones. She loved people well, gave them a safe place to just be themselves, and never expected a thing in return. I learned a lot from her, and I’m a better person because of her. I am thankful we were able to live in the same area for awhile.

Offer thorough advice, if asked. Is someone moving to your University? Take the time to answer their questions and help them explore! Better yet, set up a time to speak to them by phone or Skype ahead of time. Believe it or not, Skyping is how MC and I became friends before she moved to Oxford.  Sometimes just having a familiar face in a new place can be the exact thing they might need to make it one more day.

For you new graduate wives just moving and starting over – when every box has been unpacked, the internet set up, grocery store located, and new city explored, you’ll probably start to look for a group of people to spend time with.

What are some ways you could do that?

Be brave. Attend events, toddler groups, libraries, book clubs, parties, etc. I remember the first event I ever attended as a graduate wife. I walked into a room full of women I didn’t know, and it was daunting AND overwhelming, even for this extrovert! But I am so glad I was brave enough to attend. At that event, I met a woman whose husband was a year of ahead of mine in their Masters program. We ended up becoming great friends, and still are to this day. Be willing to put yourself out there!

Be willing to try new things. Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to do, and hadn’t had time to? Grad school is a great time to take advantage of that, and great way to make new friends. I recently took a photography course, and went to an art class at a local coffee shop. In both places, I was able to try some new things, and meet new people.

Be patient. Building friendships and community take time. I guarantee if you’re willing to put that time and energy into it, the rewards will be worth it.

Find a spouses support group. Or at least a group of graduate wives to be friends with. You may find you need the support to get you through the next year, three years or five years. You may find having that constant group in your life will help you process the graduate wife journey.  And, you may find you need a safe place to express fears to other graduate wives about PhD applications, job prospects and uncertainties, and dissertation blues.

Community is very important to me. If there’s anything I’ve learned on this graduate journey, it’s that community is and has been at the heartbeat of everything I’ve done. I’m grateful for every good and hard experience I’ve had because I’ve had the opportunity to walk along and do life with other partners and spouses of those in the academy.

Reach out to someone new today. Give them a safe place to be themselves. Be a friend. Create community.

~Mandy

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Community · Friendship

REPOST: Seeking BFF

Written by Keeley, a current graduate wife        

 I recently read an interesting book about making friends which I thought I’d introduce to our readers at The Graduate Wife. The premise of the book, entitled “MWF Seeking BFF”, is that the author has moved to a new town with her husband and is attempting to find people who might blossom into life-long friends. Instead of waiting for this to happen organically (because that hasn’t worked so well over the first few years in their town), she goes all out. Over the span of a year, she goes on 52 “friend-dates” with people she meets through various venues, including an improvisation class, cooking clubs, book clubs, and of course, other friends. The book chronicles her experiences as well as how she processes the new relationships in her life, and she fills out her narrative with a healthy chunk of statistics and research on the art/science of making and keeping friends. While I certainly admire her motivation, willpower, and discipline in accomplishing this mammoth goal, I fully concede that as an introvert, my head would simply explode from all that social interaction.

See, the thing is that I’m not all that great at making friends. Meeting people, sure, I enjoy learning new faces and names and even have somewhat of a knack for remembering them. And once I’m friends with someone, she can definitely count on me to be there for a conversation, for a listening ear, for a walk in the neighborhood, for a cup of tea or an ice-cream cone. Especially an ice cream cone. As I read this book, however, I realized how much of an ordeal it normally is for me to make a new friend. Thinking back through my life, my best middle school buddy and my best friend through high school basically had to “hunt me down” (in their words) to become friends. I think the reason, partly, is because I have always been close to my family, and, having one larger than normal, there were always plenty of us around to hang out with. However, it wasn’t until college that I realized another reason I am hesitant to begin new friendships: vulnerability. It’s much easier for me to be friendly to everyone and to offer my friendship to those who express interest in it–getting to where I have a mutual trust and need for that relationship is what trips me up and must, in some way, scare me. I know this because one of my best friends in college and I, when we became friends, explicitly stated to one another that we weren’t interested in being half-way friends. If we were going to get-to-know one another, we were going to be the type of friends who never worried about intruding or being a drain on the other; we were going to be honest with one another and give one another our best attempts at friendship.

Since then, I’ve learned that this isn’t always possible when making new friends. While a heart-to-heart conversation like that is immediately within reach in the social greenhouse which is college, people in the real world like for things to just happen. When Jason and I first married and moved to his master’s program, I didn’t spend much time at all thinking about friendships. Between our new marriage and my work schedule, it honestly didn’t cross my mind. But when we moved to pursue his PhD program, I was pleased to find that the community here facilitates making friends like hardly any other place I’ve been.

That’s not to say that it has all been a dream–the first year we lived here I had about five friends that I regularly spent time with, and the next year they had all moved away. In the graduate life, I have found this to be one of the most challenging aspects of making friends. But from those five friends, I learned a great many things, not the least of which were how to knit, and the fact that I have a massive writer’s crush on Barbara Kingsolver. Since then, I’ve had many a walking buddy and reading cohort, and each of these friends I have learned to appreciate for what we bring to one another’s lives, however long our overlap may last.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, however, that I have also found a “BFF” in the process–a friend with whom I spent so much time and we shared so much of our lives, that I know wherever we live, we will remain friends and remember how much more fulfilling and rewarding this stage of life has been because of one another. She has already moved away, which we knew would happen eventually with our both being graduate wives, but we stay in touch regularly, and I think of her frequently as I drive or walk past our old meeting places in my town. Like another one of my college friends, I think of her as more of a sister than a friend. It’s through friendships like this that I understand the bittersweetness of making, losing, and keeping companions through our lives. My childhood friends, my college friends, and my adult friends–they have all helped me to become more of who I am and challenged me to grow in ways I never thought possible. I may never go on 52 dates to discover another BFF, but I can certainly understand why someone would go to the trouble.

Have you found it easy or difficult to make new friends during this unique stage of life? How do you balance making new friendships with maintaining your marriage and/or work?

Community · Moving

REPOST: My Patchwork Heart

I hear the warm whispers of the North Carolina summers calling me.  I feel wooed by the fast-paced life I once lived in Washington, D.C.  and I hear echoes of the intimate and truly precious conversations that I shared with friends on our small street in Arlington.  I smell hushpuppies and my Dad’s BBQ and all the warm flavors of the deep south tempting me home.  I hear the ancient bells here in Oxford and I savor the fun times shared with dear fellow graduate wives.  I remember the glorious sunsets on the Chesapeake Bay and the unforgettable and sometimes painful community that was forged while living there on the Eastern Shore.  I feel the Big Apple charming me with the adventures & life lessons that unfolded there, and countless meals at my favorite café near Harlem.

Although my graduate wife journey has only really lead me to two different locations, I feel at times like tiny pieces of my heart are scattered about a hundred different places.  Do you ever feel this way? Have you moved around a lot on this journey?  Have you watched friendships grow and then had to watch as one of you packed up and said goodbye, or fallen in love with a city and a community, only to have to let go?

At times I feel so grateful for all the pieces of my heart scattered about around the country, and even the globe.  At other times I feel the weight of heartache for never getting to have all those precious friends and memories and experiences combined into one perfect place.  It’s a blessing and a curse at times…but alas it makes up who I am. A giant patchwork quilt.

I feel that recently I am learning how to relish and treasure all the vastly unique experiences that make me who I am.  Each place I have lived and each community of which I have been a part hasn’t been perfect…but each has been incredible and beautiful in its own way.  In these places I’ve been loved and hurt and supported and broken down.  I haven’t necessarily chosen these communities…they have more or less chosen me.

I feel that as a graduate wife, as a supporter, a mover and a dreamer, I have sometimes tried to resist these changes.  I have tried to resist the sharing of my life and ultimately of my heart with new friends and new settings.  For some reason it never works though.  As a fellow graduate wife once shared, “I tried so hard not to make friends in our new graduate community.  I was in denial of the move and thought that by wishing it away and not connecting, it would go by more quickly.  And sadly after a season of depression, I realized I was very wrong.”

I know that at times it’s easy to just try and ignore our current situations.  To dream of bigger houses and steady incomes for our families and to try and deny the reality of where we are now for this season of life.  And so I just wanted to encourage each of you fellow graduate wives today.  You might be avoiding your current grad school location and counting down the days until graduation or you might be feeling heavy with heartache over a previous home and community that you once knew.  You might be anxiously dreading an upcoming move and new graduate program, or you might be so in love with your current graduate wife life that you never want to see it end.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you are able to step back and soak up all the flavors that make up who you are.  Smell and hear and taste the unique tapestry of friends, places, jobs, and experiences that this journey has brought to you.  I hope you can open up to a new community around you if you haven’t already.  Share bits of your story with others and be open to letting them make an imprint on it as well.  I know it’s not always easy … but when you take a step back, aren’t patchwork quilts breathtaking?

On your graduate wife journey how have you dealt with moving and uprooting community, friends, jobs, etc.?

-M.C.

Expectations · Inspiration · Moving · Sacrifice

REPOST: What I wish I had known…{part I}

Written by Mandy & Julia

Today we are staring a three part series on “What I wish I had known” going into my graduate wife journey.  Mandy and Julia have almost 16 years combined experience of being graduate wives and they have moved almost 8 times to different institutions between the two of them.  Today’s post focuses on ‘intangible’ things they wish they known to expect, Thursday’s post will focus on more ‘tangible’ things they wish they had known to be aware of, and finally we will close next week with a post sharing a bit of both.  I have read through this and am incredibly encouraged and thankful for the advice.  I hope it speaks to you on the journey as well! – M.C.

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Uncertain Future: The world of academia is a chasm of uncertainty. Open posts are few and far between; our other halves constantly compete for posts against their friends, and inevitably watch their friends win; and most of the time, 250 applications (or more) will be filled out before one interview is granted. I can attest to the fact that most of time, our lives feel like one big question mark after another.

For you graduate wives just beginning your journey, the ‘end’ is the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s the present that’s difficult as you try to make it through with a husband, fiancée, or boyfriend who spends way too many nights in the library with his new mistress, the dissertation.

For you graduate wives ending your journey, you’ve proudly watched your other half step across a platform to be granted a degree, your heart nearly bursting with pride. Now, you’re watching him slog through application after application, and you have no idea where you’re going to be living in six months.

 How in the world do you navigate that?

I wish I had an easy answer. This was only supposed to be a three-year gig when we began our journey (sometime I’ll tell you that whole story). Instead, we sit here eight years later, with no idea of what’s around the corner for us. The best reminder that I’ve received from an older graduate wife is this is just a season of life. And it is. Sometimes, when I am incredibly weary, I get tired of hearing it, and I worry that my husband will never find a post, and that none of my dreams will ever be actualized. But, you know what? Something WILL inevitably work out. It will more than likely look completely opposite than what we had in mind, but it will be right for us. And, it will be right for you.

Remember this as your graduate wife story is being penned: This is only a season of your life.

.

Familial Alienation: For me, it initially felt easier to leave the stories of our European adventures in Europe when visiting family back home. My rationale went like this: “If I tell them about all the beauty we’ve taken in, I come off as bragging and just plain old obnoxious. Worse, if I tell them about the weekly ritual of scrubbing mold from our furniture, clothing and walls, won’t they just think I am simply ungrateful?”

This way of thinking may have worked for the first year or so, especially when I had one foot in Target and the other just teetering on the edge of Tesco’s (a big grocery chain in the UK) doorstep. But then my marriage, my children, my career – my life – rooted and blossomed here. What then?

I had to get over my insecurities about sharing our world with our families so that our families knew us. It’s hard enough to leave your loved ones behind physically – don’t fall into the trap of leaving them emotionally as well.

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Community: If you read this blog, you know we harp on building community. We do that because MC and I have seen the benefits of what happens when you’re willing to share your life and story with other people traveling the same journey. We’ve previously focused on how you cultivate community, but haven’t really touched on the emotional why parts of it.

The first part of our graduate journey was spent rehashing that lesson again and again and again; I refused to put down roots in our new city, and in the first year of school, I (we) went back to see our friends in Atlanta six or seven times. I had one foot firmly planted where my heart was, and the other foot planted because it’s where I had to be. It wasn’t healthy.

After many discussions (I use that term loosely ha ha) with my husband, we agreed it wasn’t emotionally healthy or balanced to try to maintain a life in Atlanta when we did not live there.  It seems like a fairly simple concept now, but at the time I truly felt like, once again, my world was being ripped from my hands. We made the decision together that we would not return to Atlanta for one year.

By investing in the city or community you live in, you are choosing to live in the present. If you spend all your time wishing you were somewhere else, then you may miss an important part or piece of your life’s growth process. That’s not an easy thing to do when you’d rather be somewhere else.  When I began the process of actually getting to know the Orlando community, I discovered it wasn’t such a bad place to live. When I started investing in relationships, I realized there were some amazing people that were worth getting to know. I look back now, and often wonder what life would be like today, if we hadn’t made the decision to cultivate community and plant our feet firmly where we lived. When we moved from there in 2007, we left some wonderful friends that I was genuinely sad to leave.

I do think it has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along this path: Live in the present and invest in those around you.

Community · Friendship

Seeking BFF

Written by Keeley, a current graduate wife        

 I recently read an interesting book about making friends which I thought I’d introduce to our readers at The Graduate Wife. The premise of the book, entitled “MWF Seeking BFF”, is that the author has moved to a new town with her husband and is attempting to find people who might blossom into life-long friends. Instead of waiting for this to happen organically (because that hasn’t worked so well over the first few years in their town), she goes all out. Over the span of a year, she goes on 52 “friend-dates” with people she meets through various venues, including an improvisation class, cooking clubs, book clubs, and of course, other friends. The book chronicles her experiences as well as how she processes the new relationships in her life, and she fills out her narrative with a healthy chunk of statistics and research on the art/science of making and keeping friends. While I certainly admire her motivation, willpower, and discipline in accomplishing this mammoth goal, I fully concede that as an introvert, my head would simply explode from all that social interaction.

See, the thing is that I’m not all that great at making friends. Meeting people, sure, I enjoy learning new faces and names and even have somewhat of a knack for remembering them. And once I’m friends with someone, she can definitely count on me to be there for a conversation, for a listening ear, for a walk in the neighborhood, for a cup of tea or an ice-cream cone. Especially an ice cream cone. As I read this book, however, I realized how much of an ordeal it normally is for me to make a new friend. Thinking back through my life, my best middle school buddy and my best friend through high school basically had to “hunt me down” (in their words) to become friends. I think the reason, partly, is because I have always been close to my family, and, having one larger than normal, there were always plenty of us around to hang out with. However, it wasn’t until college that I realized another reason I am hesitant to begin new friendships: vulnerability. It’s much easier for me to be friendly to everyone and to offer my friendship to those who express interest in it–getting to where I have a mutual trust and need for that relationship is what trips me up and must, in some way, scare me. I know this because one of my best friends in college and I, when we became friends, explicitly stated to one another that we weren’t interested in being half-way friends. If we were going to get-to-know one another, we were going to be the type of friends who never worried about intruding or being a drain on the other; we were going to be honest with one another and give one another our best attempts at friendship.

Since then, I’ve learned that this isn’t always possible when making new friends. While a heart-to-heart conversation like that is immediately within reach in the social greenhouse which is college, people in the real world like for things to just happen. When Jason and I first married and moved to his master’s program, I didn’t spend much time at all thinking about friendships. Between our new marriage and my work schedule, it honestly didn’t cross my mind. But when we moved to pursue his PhD program, I was pleased to find that the community here facilitates making friends like hardly any other place I’ve been.

That’s not to say that it has all been a dream–the first year we lived here I had about five friends that I regularly spent time with, and the next year they had all moved away. In the graduate life, I have found this to be one of the most challenging aspects of making friends. But from those five friends, I learned a great many things, not the least of which were how to knit, and the fact that I have a massive writer’s crush on Barbara Kingsolver. Since then, I’ve had many a walking buddy and reading cohort, and each of these friends I have learned to appreciate for what we bring to one another’s lives, however long our overlap may last.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, however, that I have also found a “BFF” in the process–a friend with whom I spent so much time and we shared so much of our lives, that I know wherever we live, we will remain friends and remember how much more fulfilling and rewarding this stage of life has been because of one another. She has already moved away, which we knew would happen eventually with our both being graduate wives, but we stay in touch regularly, and I think of her frequently as I drive or walk past our old meeting places in my town. Like another one of my college friends, I think of her as more of a sister than a friend. It’s through friendships like this that I understand the bittersweetness of making, losing, and keeping companions through our lives. My childhood friends, my college friends, and my adult friends–they have all helped me to become more of who I am and challenged me to grow in ways I never thought possible. I may never go on 52 dates to discover another BFF, but I can certainly understand why someone would go to the trouble.

Have you found it easy or difficult to make new friends during this unique stage of life? How do you balance making new friendships with maintaining your marriage and/or work?

Moving

Starting Over

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Over the course of the next few weeks, Universities around the world will open their doors to new students. Some of those students will be moving away from home for the first time; some will be beginning graduate studies with families in tow; some will be newly married, learning to navigate a new city together; but all of them have one thing in common: they are starting over.

I love meeting new students and their families. Their excitement is written on their facial expressions. They are ecstatic to be on a new journey, in a new city. They remind of me of the white patent leather shoes I wore on Easter as a child; the ones that were shiny and new, untouched by the antics of childhood.

But what happens when the newness of starting over wears off?

As I think back eight years ago to our first move on our graduate journey, I remember being a newlywed in love wanting nothing more than to assist fulfilling my husband’s dream of completing his Masters. I jumped in with both feet, excited about the endless possibilities and opportunities that lay before us. It didn’t take long for the newness to wear off. Several months later, I thought, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?” I was navigating a new city, commuting to a new job, and missing my husband who was spending obscene amounts of time at the library. It took a couple of years before I finally found my footing again, and I can give credit for that to the women (some grad wives, some not) who invited me to be part of their community.

As you are out and about over the next few weeks, you are going to bump into various women – women who have given up their careers and left friends and family far behind to follow their husbands so they can attend school – women who will be looking for a new community, a place they can call home – women who would really just like a cup of coffee or glass of wine with a new friend to hear that graduate life isn’t so bad, and often times is actually very sweet.

And I ask….will you be that new community, that new friend?

For you former and current graduate wives, this is a great time of year to sit back and remember what it was like for you as a new graduate wife, when you moved and started over. What were your biggest joys? Your biggest fears? Would you do anything differently? How did you handle giving up your career if you had to? What were your biggest struggles? You have knowledge to influence and inspire the next generation of upcoming graduate wives.

What are some ways you could do that?

Be hospitable. Open your home. Include new faces at your dinner parties. Invite new friends for coffee or drinks. Give someone a bottle of wine. Bake chocolate chip cookies and drop them by a new graduate wife’s house. If you know someone moving to your city, make them dinner and bring it over the first night they arrive. Make them feel welcomed and loved on this new adventure.

Be willing to include new people to your group. Take the time to meet new people! Introduce them to your current friends. You never know who you might meet. I have a friend who used to live here in Oxford who was known as the ‘friend collector.’ It was a term of endearment, because she was always with someone new, inviting new people over for dinner, meeting a new friend for drinks, and introducing those new friends to her old ones. She loved people well, gave them a safe place to just be themselves, and never expected a thing in return. I learned a lot from her, and I’m a better person because of her. I am thankful we were able to live in the same area for awhile.

Offer thorough advice, if asked. Is someone moving to your University? Take the time to answer their questions and help them explore! Better yet, set up a time to speak to them by phone or Skype ahead of time. Believe it or not, Skyping is how MC and I became friends before she moved to Oxford.  Sometimes just having a familiar face in a new place can be the exact thing they might need to make it one more day.

For you new graduate wives just moving and starting over – when every box has been unpacked, the internet set up, grocery store located, and new city explored, you’ll probably start to look for a group of people to spend time with.

What are some ways you could do that?

Be brave. Attend events, toddler groups, libraries, book clubs, parties, etc. I remember the first event I ever attended as a graduate wife. I walked into a room full of women I didn’t know, and it was daunting AND overwhelming, even for this extrovert! But I am so glad I was brave enough to attend. At that event, I met a woman whose husband was a year of ahead of mine in their Masters program. We ended up becoming great friends, and still are to this day. Be willing to put yourself out there!

Be willing to try new things. Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to do, and hadn’t had time to? Grad school is a great time to take advantage of that, and great way to make new friends. I recently took a photography course, and went to an art class at a local coffee shop. In both places, I was able to try some new things, and meet new people.

Be patient. Building friendships and community take time. I guarantee if you’re willing to put that time and energy into it, the rewards will be worth it.

Find a spouses support group. Or at least a group of graduate wives to be friends with. You may find you need the support to get you through the next year, three years or five years. You may find having that constant group in your life will help you process the graduate wife journey.  And, you may find you need a safe place to express fears to other graduate wives about PhD applications, job prospects and uncertainties, and dissertation blues.

Community is very important to me. If there’s anything I’ve learned on this graduate journey, it’s that community is and has been at the heartbeat of everything I’ve done. I’m grateful for every good and hard experience I’ve had because I’ve had the opportunity to walk along and do life with other partners and spouses of those in the academy.

Reach out to someone new today. Give them a safe place to be themselves. Be a friend. Create community.

~Mandy

Expectations · Inspiration · Moving · Sacrifice

What I wish I had known…

Written by Mandy & Julia

Today we are staring a three part series on “What I wish I had known” going into my graduate wife journey.  Mandy and Julia have almost 16 years combined experience of being graduate wives and they have moved almost 8 times to different institutions between the two of them.  Today’s post focuses on ‘intangible’ things they wish they known to expect, Thursday’s post will focus on more ‘tangible’ things they wish they had known to be aware of, and finally we will close next week with a post sharing a bit of both.  I have read through this and am incredibly encouraged and thankful for the advice.  I hope it speaks to you on the journey as well! – M.C.

.
Uncertain Future: The world of academia is a chasm of uncertainty. Open posts are few and far between; our other halves constantly compete for posts against their friends, and inevitably watch their friends win; and most of the time, 250 applications (or more) will be filled out before one interview is granted. I can attest to the fact that most of time, our lives feel like one big question mark after another.

For you graduate wives just beginning your journey, the ‘end’ is the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s the present that’s difficult as you try to make it through with a husband, fiancée, or boyfriend who spends way too many nights in the library with his new mistress, the dissertation.

For you graduate wives ending your journey, you’ve proudly watched your other half step across a platform to be granted a degree, your heart nearly bursting with pride. Now, you’re watching him slog through application after application, and you have no idea where you’re going to be living in six months.

 How in the world do you navigate that?

I wish I had an easy answer. This was only supposed to be a three-year gig when we began our journey (sometime I’ll tell you that whole story). Instead, we sit here eight years later, with no idea of what’s around the corner for us. The best reminder that I’ve received from an older graduate wife is this is just a season of life. And it is. Sometimes, when I am incredibly weary, I get tired of hearing it, and I worry that my husband will never find a post, and that none of my dreams will ever be actualized. But, you know what? Something WILL inevitably work out. It will more than likely look completely opposite than what we had in mind, but it will be right for us. And, it will be right for you.

Remember this as your graduate wife story is being penned: This is only a season of your life.

.

Familial Alienation: For me, it initially felt easier to leave the stories of our European adventures in Europe when visiting family back home. My rationale went like this: “If I tell them about all the beauty we’ve taken in, I come off as bragging and just plain old obnoxious. Worse, if I tell them about the weekly ritual of scrubbing mold from our furniture, clothing and walls, won’t they just think I am simply ungrateful?”

This way of thinking may have worked for the first year or so, especially when I had one foot in Target and the other just teetering on the edge of Tesco’s (a big grocery chain in the UK) doorstep. But then my marriage, my children, my career – my life – rooted and blossomed here. What then?

I had to get over my insecurities about sharing our world with our families so that our families knew us. It’s hard enough to leave your loved ones behind physically – don’t fall into the trap of leaving them emotionally as well.

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Community: If you read this blog, you know we harp on building community. We do that because MC and I have seen the benefits of what happens when you’re willing to share your life and story with other people traveling the same journey. We’ve previously focused on how you cultivate community, but haven’t really touched on the emotional why parts of it.

The first part of our graduate journey was spent rehashing that lesson again and again and again; I refused to put down roots in our new city, and in the first year of school, I (we) went back to see our friends in Atlanta six or seven times. I had one foot firmly planted where my heart was, and the other foot planted because it’s where I had to be. It wasn’t healthy.

After many discussions (I use that term loosely ha ha) with my husband, we agreed it wasn’t emotionally healthy or balanced to try to maintain a life in Atlanta when we did not live there.  It seems like a fairly simple concept now, but at the time I truly felt like, once again, my world was being ripped from my hands. We made the decision together that we would not return to Atlanta for one year.

By investing in the city or community you live in, you are choosing to live in the present. If you spend all your time wishing you were somewhere else, then you may miss an important part or piece of your life’s growth process. That’s not an easy thing to do when you’d rather be somewhere else.  When I began the process of actually getting to know the Orlando community, I discovered it wasn’t such a bad place to live. When I started investing in relationships, I realized there were some amazing people that were worth getting to know. I look back now, and often wonder what life would be like today, if we hadn’t made the decision to cultivate community and plant our feet firmly where we lived. When we moved from there in 2007, we left some wonderful friends that I was genuinely sad to leave.

I do think it has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along this path: Live in the present and invest in those around you.