Saturday, June 16, 2012

Home is Wherever I am With You

I'd like to spend a moment thanking [most] of you- thank you for your understanding, thank you for not questioning our decisions (at least, not to our faces), thank you for the support, and of course, thank you to our Utah friends who have made us feel so cared for. I'd also like to ask that no matter your opinion of our choice, you use this post to better understand our situation, rather than pass judgement.

The decision Stephen and I made to move to Orem, Utah has been a long time in the making. Since we have started dating, Stephen has hinted [or flat out begged, let's be honest here] for me to consider packing up my life, dropping my job, and moving down to be closer to him. Although long distance hasn't always been the easiest, I was steadfastly against the idea of Utah- what would my family say? My friends? How angry would my co-workers and my boss be? I couldn't imagine giving up my life, my CAREER, that I have worked so hard to earn and achieve. That would be submissive of me, I'd be falling right into what I (and quite frankly, A LOT of people) view to be the "Mormon way" of the woman giving up her needs to her husband (boyfriend at this time... but you know what I mean).

Following our engagement, the idea of moving to the Provo area was still mentioned, and I still held on to my hopes of keeping my position at Finley Elementary. It started to become clear though that life wasn't quite shaping up the way Stephen and I originally imagined. As a pre-med student, Stephen's priorities were no longer on school. In order to stay competitive in the medical school candidate pool, his GPA would need a little work, and he'd have to keep cramming for the MCAT, but suddenly planning our life AFTER med school seemed more important. We kept pushing all of our focus away from our current circumstances, and we began to build a life in the Tri-Cities, even so much as to go and put down deposits on not ONE, but TWO separate apartments (that was a comical series of events). Each time we put down a deposit, something would come up that would prevent us from moving to those particular apartments, and neither one of us could figure out why so many things were working against us.

Stephen and I began to argue more often. I became angry with his under-grad choices, yelling at him about studying skills and lack of focus, and all the things that he could no longer control. I became angrier at school, more on edge with my family, and generally just a very introverted individual. The straw that broke the camel's back, however, came when Stephen let his parents know that in good conscious, he could no longer graduate on time if he hoped to be competitive... he would have to go back and raise his GPA.

[Disclaimer: Stephen's GPA isn't HORRIBLE, I promise you. I don't want you to get the wrong impression. Medical school is just SO TOUGH to get into these days that he wants to make sure his GPA stands out from the crowd, get it?]

Suddenly, we were all fighting. Stephen and I began to try to work out what could be done to save our situation, and it wasn't looking good. In order to go back to school, Stephen would need to reapply to WSU Tri-Cities, which didn't ensure that all of his credit hours would transfer from BYU. The cost of tuition at even the Tri-Cities campus has gone up substantially, and in order to qualify for student loans and grants, Stephen would need to take a lot of completely unnecessary classes in order to boost his number of credit hours, or face paying out of pocket. Although many people pay out of pocket, and make it work, we were nervous about paying for rent, two car payments (and with the possibility of needing to buy a new car within the next year), car insurance, cell phone bills, utilities, groceries, heat, etc., as well as EXPENSIVE tuition on a teacher's salary. My contract accounted for no pay raise (even though I was moving up the pay scale as a third year teacher), and on top of that, staying with my job at Finley Elementary would require me to begin to pursue my ProCert (I don't want to explain THAT mess, but my teacher friends know what's up), which would be another payment completely out of pocket. To make matters even worse, the job market in the Tri-Cities isn't looking too hot, as the area continues to make cuts, thereby making the candidate pool for well paying jobs across the area even more deep. The possibility of Stephen getting a good job, while also attending classes, wasn't looking great.

Naturally though, at this time, Stephen and I did the math, and realized that the tuition at BYU was MUCH cheaper. On top of that, Stephen already knew he qualified for great grants and loans, plus he was receiving tips about decent, if not VERY well, paying jobs from his friends on the inside around the Lehi-Orem-Provo area in Utah. I of course, was stubborn. My old mentality about being a strong, independent woman was getting in the way of seeing that moving would provide us with a much more secure future. I couldn't imgaine giving up "me." My career, my friends, my family, my LIFE. The only way I could describe how I felt was stuck- I literally felt like someone had dropped me into a twenty foot hole, and the only way I would even try to get out was by digging even further down. I even went so far as to question Stephen whether getting married at this time was the right choice, whether we needed another year apart to better ourselves before we settled down together.

It was about this time though that the statements I was actually making hit me. I truly believe there is never a "right time" to be married. If Stephen and I held out for a "perfect" time, we'd be pushing this marriage back for years. Our marriage won't be about taking the easiest route, but it will be two people coming together, from two very different lives and backgrounds, trying to find a way to blend our craziness together into one. And at that time, I wasn't willing to budge. Even when I saw there was no way to find a good middle ground for us, I REFUSED to acknowledge that it might be my time to give in a little.

Another disclaimer for you less spiritual individuals- I can't even tell you how often how hard I began to pray at this time. Over the last few years, I have found that in my darkest times, I tend to get the strongest answers to prayer. So needless to say, when I began to ask the right questions- "What is it you want us to do? What plans do you have for us? Do you want us to pack up and move to Utah?"- I felt peace that I hadn't felt in months. As scared as I was, and as stubborn as I felt, I knew there was a reason I felt so calm when I asked these questions.

Stephen and I are meant to be, I know this without any doubt in my mind. Our circumstances have lead us to find one another when we both needed a person in our lives that provide what we provide to one another. He brings out the absolute best in me, and has changed my life in ways that I never imagined possible. We need each other, and it was time that I finally faced the fact that I knew, for months even, that moving to Utah was truly what was, and is, best for us.

Before you jump on my back, let me explain. I know I am giving up a teaching job when people are begging for jobs. I know I probably seem ungrateful to some people who worked so hard to help me land my position, and I promise, I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities I was given. I met some amazing people, worked harder than I ever thought I would, and put SO MUCH work into that DREAM fourth grade position (seriously, in a way, I was spoiled. Working alongside my master teacher in the school I student taught in, pretty primo), it is very hard to walk away from it. The reasons I want to keep my job at Finley though were pretty selfish. I was worried what it would look like to others, I was worried I was letting people down, I was worried about all of my hard work being for nothing. I am lucky enough to be in a field of work that, yes, although you and EVERY OTHER PERSON I HAVE TALKED TO assures me that the candidate pool in the Utah is completely saturated and half the women down there are teachers, I know I will get a job when the time is right. Whether it is for a position next year, or whether I am subbing, or whether I have to wait until Stephen and I are in a more permanent spot in our lives, I have faith that I am supposed to be a teacher, and I am a good one, and the perfect job will come when I am ready. I will find work, and I will help support Stephen and I, and it doesn't matter if it's in Finley or at another district. What does matter is that I am doing what will most help my family, including my future children, in the long run. We all know I will NOT be making the money in the family- teachers get paid SQUAT. Getting into this marriage, I knew that Stephen would need a lot of support getting to his goal of being a doctor. I also know that if he can get there, my family and I will be taken care of. It is just a matter of having faith knowing that although our lives might not be picture perfect for a few years, we will be taken care of.

So with that being said, my current situation is this- as of today, I have applied for 16 teaching positions. I am holding a preliminary Utah license, as my credit hours and teaching experience has been verified by the USOE (like our OSPI), now I am just waiting for the fingerprinting to clear for my official, paper license. Stephen and I have found a wonderful apartment in Orem, and if I wasn't so frightened of stalkers, I would totally show you pictures of the grounds on this blog (text or message me on Facebook, and I'll show you!). The apartments were built in the late 90's, but are in the middle of a remodel. They have vaulted ceilings, two-toned paint, a separate dining room and kitchen, large patio with storage, separate laundry room, pantry, a HUGE walk in closet, and a roman style bathtub in our bathroom (seriously cannot wait to decorate this place!). And, the biggest perk? We are right down the street from Krispy Kreme! Ha ha ha.

Stephen is waiting to hear back from a few companies he applied and interviewed for positions for, but I promise, even if these don't work out, he and I have come up with quite a few back-up plans (we have talked this out A LOT, promise). He is currently on track to take the MCAT and begin applying to med schools this fall (let's cross our fingers that we'll end up in Arizona or Southern California for a while!!). Tomorrow we are leaving to spend the week in Utah getting apartment needs together, clean out his current, "singles" apartment, and be fitted for our wedding garb. Oh yeah, and we're getting married in 38 days!

Our lives might not be perfect. We might disappoint people. We might be judged by people who don't understand. We are happy though, and we both feel very good about our situation. And I have learned that although change is scary, we're going to be fine, because according to Pinterest...

Home is wherever I am with you!

1 comment:

  1. Kristen, I LOVE THIS!! All I can say is I know what you mean on a lot of points, and I may have even teared up. And hey, UT isn't so bad. In fact I'm way excited because we will get to see you more often! :) Love ya!