Bullish Life: Should You Slow Down Your Career for a Guy?

Jennifer Dziura writes life coaching advice weekly here on TheGloss, and career coaching advice Fridays on TheGrindstone.

Let us hear today from a writer I have renamed Donna Summer, singer of the 1983 hit, “She Works Hard for the Money.” I changed a few details, but not many, because a lot of this email is about horses. What am I supposed to say — Donna’s training llamas? Mastodons? Groundhogs? You cannot ride a groundhog.

Dear Jen,

I’m 23, I work as a contractor, and I have a boyfriend and — oh man — two horses. On the side, I do art/photography modeling, dogsitting, or a couple hours of gardening for my mom’s awesome self-started landscaping business (she is the most Bullish woman I know). I’m also paid to ride another boarder’s horse for her.

I have a contract until next year, maybe longer, and I’m making enough money to pay my student and car loans and other bills. I also pay my parents a small rent to stay in their house and eat their delicious food.

I feel good about my situation: I have a full-time job I like and I’m applying for others. I’m paying off my debts, I have a beautiful young horse I’m training myself, and I can still go online and buy some silly dress if I want to. I have $2,000 in my savings account. I have planned, saved, and paid for a one-week trip to Spain with my two best friends in August, which I am so pumped about. But here’s where things get rough.

I see my boyfriend about three or four times a week. Due to his very erratic sleep schedule and the fact that I am constantly running around, it’s often very late when we see each other and I’m tired at the end of the day. We have been together for three years. I love him. But he feels:

1) I am putting him on the back burner
2) I’m working too hard for the money I make
3) I should change how I am living my life

I’m frustrated that my boyfriend doesn’t see things the way I do, but at the same time I’m sympathetic to his feelings and I want to make him happy. He’s leaving for Morocco for two months and I admit that I haven’t been spending as much time with him as I should have. I just don’t know how to compromise on this: if I stop taking extra gigs, I lose my extra income (I would say the work I do on the side makes me about $150-250 a month, which for me, is no small thing). I refuse to see my horses less than three times a week. Honestly, I think I’d just feel frustrated and resentful of him if I did everything he wanted me to. How can I make him happy and also up my Bullish game at the same time?


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    • Sabrina

      Oh my gosh, thank you for this! Even though the question was asked by a 23 year old, I am printing this out and giving it to my mother! This needs to be addressed, and now :)

    • G

      “Could he come along to see the horses? (I don’t know how horses work.)” = perfection.

    • b3v

      ugh. I needed to read this, right there today. The part about not charging enough…In my industry (mystery!!) there’s a LOT of contract work and I can make a nice supplement to my office job. Helps with the student loans, so great! Thing is, I have a middle man, someone who manages the contracts, so I get paid quite a bit less.
      But I so, sooooooo hate dealing with clients myself. I actually avoided contracting before finding a middle man.
      But then I’m basically losing money, doing contracts at a cheap cheap price.
      ugh. I’m basically talking to myself here, and realizing I should man up and…shudder…deal with clients. :(

      • Somnilee

        Heya, I don’t know what your business is, but Jen put a brilliant thing before about the fact that if you’ve got to do one scary thing (contact a client), you might as well do that thing a whole bunch of times. It’s not ten times as scary to contact ten clients as it is to contact one, and by increasing the number of people you’re asking, you’re increasing your chances of success.

        I’m currently trying to do the same thing with finding an apartment, I know it can be very hard to pick up the phone! Best of luck.

      • b3v

        Very true Somnilee! now, good luck to you with the apt! :)

    • Eagle Eye

      “being sad about my art history degree’” – *hangs head in shame”…lol