On Success
Joanna Horton

Oh, this sounds very, very familiar! Now, I’m not giving any advice, or warning or anything like that. I’ll just tell you my story and you can judge for yourself.

I too was an anthropologist — I actually completed my Ph.D., loved every moment of it and never considered a non-academic job initially. But then I realised all of the difficulties you point out above. I had met my soon-to-be husband at the time, also an academic, which would have made life even harder (I’ve had friends who, as married couples, spent a decade apart chasing post-doc positions in different countries, until they finally managed to move close together; in some cases this meant they were too late to have children anymore). I was also the ‘wrong nationality’, which made it difficult to apply for positions in the UK. So I took the practical option, moved into HR and consulting, had children etc. etc.

But now, as I approach middle age, as I have given up career aspiration after career aspiration in order to move around the world for my husband’s job and look after my children (I have continued working, but freelance), now that I am getting divorced and will be struggling financially and have no pension worth mentioning, in spite of the fact that I was so ‘sensible’ and ‘practical’ and gave up my passion for ‘real life’…. boy, do I regret it!

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