My Family or My Dream? Why I Put My Dream on Hold

“Fulfillment is the completion of a circle. All aspects of the self have to be lived out, like the twelve houses of the zodiac”

Anais Nin

“The earth is heavy and opaque without dreams”

Anais Nin


When I read The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B DuBois at the age of 16, I fell in love. I learned that DuBois was the first African-American to receive a PhD from Harvard. Then I read, The Philadelphia Negro, a Sociological masterpiece also written by DuBois. It was at that time I  knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life; get my PhD and spend my life reading, writing and lecturing as a Sociologist/Activist. Dr. Richardson… That has such a nice ring to it. But you know what I do for a living? I’m an accountant by trade and I work as a Tax Auditor. How did that happen? Long story short, when I enrolled in college, I picked Sociology as my major (big surprise there). My dad busted my bubble and said to me, “What kind of money do you expect to make with a Sociology degree?” “You need to get a degree in Accounting”. When it comes to my dad, I’ve learned to choose my battles wisely. But being his wild, rebellious child, I refused to acquiesce easily. So, I decided to make us both happy and I completed a dual major. Turns out he was absolutely, positively right (about the money part). Eventually, I was able to secure a position that offered me the financial security I would not have enjoyed without a degree in Business/Accounting. I’ve spent the last 10 years crunching numbers, but I’ve never, ever forgotten my passion.

Two years ago, I realized I was living an unfulfilled life. I felt trapped in a sea of debits, credits and charts of accounts. I knew what I had to do. I needed to go back to school. After seeing my best friend go back for her second masters degree with a full-time job, a part-time job, a husband and 3 children (1 set of twins), I figured if she could do it, then so could I! I reentered the magical, rigorous world of academia and my heart felt so full. Around that time I also connected with my kindred spirit; the man whom spirit had chosen for me. The man whom the ancestors knew would be a perfect match.

A couple of months ago, I met with the head of the Health Services Administration Department to discuss the doctoral program at the school I currently attend, and it was more than I expected. We sat down and mapped out my courses and I had an anticipated graduation date of 2025. In 2025, I could be Dr. Richardson! But wait, it wouldn’t be Dr. Richardson. By 2025, it would be Dr. Ori! I went home completely excited, as I was one step closer to fulfilling my dream. But the next morning I woke up with a toothache. As a Holistic practitioner, I know that any dis-ease in the body is a result of dis-ease in the mind. The teeth represent decisions, and I was faced with a HUGE decision.

I’m in a long- distance relationship, and at some point one of us is going to have to move. We’ve discussed a time frame for moving our relationship forward, and it’s always centered around me finishing my master’s degree. We’ve already chosen our future children’s names. When my 7-year-old draws pictures of our family, she draws all 6 of us. Now, I’ve thrown a possible doctoral degree in the loop which throws a monkey wrench in the timeline. 4 years’ time! Do I pursue the doctoral degree which means a further delay in marriage and having more children?

As women, we’ve been lead to believe that we can have it all. We can have both the career and the family. But the truth is, we can’t. There is always a choice that has to be made and choosing one means not choosing the other. Trying to do all and be all, to all people results in feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and over-extended. There is no way I can complete a doctoral degree AND get married AND start having more babies. Let me take that back. I could do all of that but honestly what would my life look like? What would my relationship with my future husband and children look like? How would I find the time to give 100% to my studies, my man and my children? I looked in the mirror and I thought about what I really truly wanted. Yes, I want that doctoral degree. It has been my dream for almost 20 years, but I also want to be fully present in my relationship, future marriage and in my role as a mother. I heard a voice say, “Girl, you know you don’t want to do all of that. That is not what you really desire right now”. I chuckled and said “you know what, you’re right”. What I really truly want at this time is to be a wife and mother.  I made the decision. After I receive my master’s degree, I am going to focus solely on moving towards marriage and life as a stay at home mompreneur. Because that is also my dream.

Once I made that decision, my toothache was gone, and I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I felt focused knowing that one path was in front of me and I did not have to feel distracted by the thought of walking multiple paths at once. Once I released the feeling that I need to do it all, peace ensued. Yes, I gave up one dream. But that also meant I could pursue another dream. I gave up my dream for my dream. Or did I? Another one of my best friends is completing a doctoral program in her early 50s! I can always go back later. There is plenty of time, but right now my focus is on becoming a wife and growing as a mother. I’m completely happy with my choice. The future Dr. Ori will have to wait a few more years. Right now, I must complete this degree, plan a wedding, and get this body prepared to birth more children. Anais Nin has said, “there is not one big cosmic meaning for all. there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”.

Decisions and choices must be made. There is no such thing as having it all. But at this point in my life, my motto is, “Family over everything”


Kathleen, “The Nutritional Truth Teller” is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, and a Certified Vaginal Steam Facilitator. She is the owner of Beauty In A Barbell Nutrition, whose sole mission is to optimize the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the Black community through African Holistic Health. She carries with her the ancestral knowledge and wisdom of the medicine men, women, healers and warriors she lovingly calls her ancestors.