We all have those moments in life where you have to weigh up whether you do the logical thing or whether you do the emotional thing. Do I follow my head or my heart? I’m not even going to go into the “following your gut” section of how to make decisions based on your organs/body parts because that just complicates matters. If your head and your heart are saying different things then what the hell is your stomach gonna say? It’ll just be flipping and churning cos it doesn’t know what side to take. And don’t even get me started on making decisions while listening to other body parts…
But what do you do? Why is there no easy formula to follow like “oh just always follow your head, its easy”…but then you are unhappy or sad or heartbroken?! “Oh sorry no I meant just always follow your heart, simple”….but then you might make decisions based too heavily on this specific moment in time and haven’t considered the long term implications of whether what you’re going to do Is even viable? “Oh no sorry I meant just follow your gut…” JUST SHUT UP OKAY YOU’RE NOT HELPING.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve recently had a head vs heart dilemma that caused a great deal of stress, inner turmoil and just a general feeling of yuckiness, knowing that whatever decision I made would shape my future and if I made the wrong choice there was no going back. LEMME TELL YALL A STORY. My options? HEAD: Pros….go and do a PhD with a supervisor you know you will work super well with and who is super excited about the project and who really thinks the idea will make you a good career and you’ll likely get funded and maybe even get paid to travel and take internships. Cons…. not completely my first preference of subject area but if it’d do me well then I’ll just deal with it. So you see the head had it all worked out really, knew the area, knew living costs were cheap, knew people in said area….it was all pretty much a done deal in the world of the head. HEART: Herein lies the proverbial spanner in the works. My boyfriend gets a potential job that I really felt he should do as it would give him a hella good wage while also letting him rock out and compose and all those things. An excellent spanner right? The only snag was that job was not in the same place as the PhD. If we were to both do our respective plans it would mean 3 long years in different countries. DRAG. Head says “you can do that, you’ve done it for the last 3?” meanwhile Heart just sobs uncontrollably at that idea. Instead, Heart gets its ass in gear and makes a deal with Head and considers a new PhD near job and a new supervisor and a new topic and a new proposal to write and a new life plan. Head feels a bit better because its still a bit like the old plan. Heart then feels guilty at having to let down everyone in Plan A. Head tries to revert to Plan A again. Heart sobs uncontrollably… again. This is a very squishy heart. Head feels sorry for Heart so does the talking to people and they’re all super nice and understanding and supportive about Plan B. Heart can’t cope with how nice everyone is and sobs again.
So the moral of this longwinded story? I went with my heart in this case. If its a situation where its career vs love, however fulfilling your career is, if you’re not emotionally fulfilled then you won’t feel happy. On the flip side, imagine you’re with the person you know you’re going to spend the rest of your life with and you have a job but one thats just okay and not amazing? That can be fixed cos you can always get a new job, you can’t get a new soulmate quite so easily. I’m not saying that by changing my plan I’m settling with the latter option there. This Plan B might actually give me a job and career path 100x better than Plan A. It’s just quite new so I haven’t had a chance to fantasize about having my own historical tv show yet (well maybe a little bit). I’m aiming for a solution that makes me head and heart and gut exceedingly happy and I think I can wangle it that it happens. (I also have to say as a disclaimer, though this was a head vs heart story about me, the boyfriend also had the same dilemma so it wasn’t just me. But he hasn’t got a blog so you get to hear my side of the story cos I have a louder mouth).
I always thought I was pretty Sherlockian about career matters, nothing would stop me doing what was best for my future and I would always follow my head. But I realised in that moment, I would give it all up for the opportunity of living in a country cottage with my man and a dog (and maybe some dumbo rats and some snails and all the animals I can fit in really). Because ….CLICHE ALERT……if you believe in yourself, academically or career-ically or professionally or job-ily then you can make it work wherever you are. You may think one specific path is your only option when really there are 10 different scenarios that are all as viable as the other, each with a different set of pros and cons. It’s all about balance. It’s all about thinking outside the box. I originally went with Plan A because I knew it was comfortable and it was easy. Plan B aka Current Plan actually could work out better for me and is in no way a step down from Plan A, it’s just different. And different can be good.
This blog post was a bit of a mind splurge but hopefully when you one day have a head vs heart dilemma you’ll remember that you don’t have to go with a path just because you think you ought to. You see teen movies where kids’ parents tell them they’re ‘ruining’ their lives following a boy or a girl because okay sometimes it all goes jellytots up. You get told not to let a boyfriend/girlfriend get in the way of your education because that’s the most important thing (ok well that’s true when you’re young but I’m all grown up now). And YOU KNOW WHAT now those sentiments are absolute Bull (pun intended hehe). Every circumstance is different. Every relationship is different. Every career decision is different. You can’t follow that formula, which is exactly why there is no simple answer to head vs heart. Be logical and weigh it all up and include your emotions in that pros and cons list cos they’ll rule your life as much as any job.
Who knows if I’ll end up actually going with a Plan C or D or G but the point is, I’m okay with that. Though it kills the control freak inside me, I’m learning to take things as they come and not pre-plan the next decade of my life and not deviate from that idea. Easy breazy baby, easy breazy.
Good luck with all your tough decisions, they’re hardcore.
Peace and Love