Looking back at my past two years, the reason I was always chased by time was mostly because I was still unsure of what I was looking for. Not the bigger picture things like being able to spend more time with family or being a useful member of society, but rather on a somewhat tactical level, the “whats,” “wheres,” and “hows” of life.
These were the questions I was forced to ask myself, but in a hyper-distracted state of mind because of all the classes, recruiting events, and interesting classmates I desperately wanted to get to know better. Not to mention the time spent on thinking how my expectations coming to school had been so different. Wasn’t an MBA all about having a good time learning how to ’network‘ over golf and improve our ’leadership skills‘ in exotic places during spring break?
In addition to all that, I had uprooted my family, put a hold on my wife’s career, and dragged them here with me into a situation where time was already scarce as it is. Doing all of the above while trying to figure out how to schedule drop-offs and pickups for our child, how to help my wife settle into this new environment and enjoy this phase of our lives, and obviously prioritizing what would be best for our family as a consideration during recruiting were definitely added challenges. Watching my single care-free (exaggerating for production value—obviously nobody was carefree) classmates plan weekends together and have nothing else to worry about besides getting an MBA and landing a job, at times I felt that I was very late to the game. That I should have realized sooner that I would end up here at some point, that perhaps if I had come at an earlier phase in my life things would have been so much easier.
Misery loves company. Speaking to other classmates who were also parents, we would often complain about not being able to go out at night with the rest of our friends, worrying over how our partners were doing while we were at school. Coming to school we had been completely ignorant of just how hectic things would be and had actually hoped this would be an opportunity to spend more time with our children. How ironic?
At the same time, these conversations often made us realize how the hardships were actually helping us build a stronger foundation as a family. Many of the conversations I was having with my wife were topics we were newly exploring together—how we need to learn to express ourselves to one another better, what line of work we each want to be in but also what kind of lifestyle we want to lead, geographically, where we want to be after school. All topics that somehow, we had failed to go deeper into before coming to Fuqua.
In retrospect, it was definitely a different experience. Instead of going to a different continent and meeting new people as most of my classmates did, we traveled to nearby beaches or went camping with other families. We shared tips on family-friendly events happening in Durham on the weekends, discussed how the school system in NC was different from other states and which strawberry farm had the least visitors on weekends. Our children got closer with each other on playdates, and after moving to different places after graduation, we still Facetime with the kids just because they miss each other.
If anything, all the second thoughts about being an MBA dad that I had at the beginning of school were long gone—silly thoughts that had looked at only one side of the meadow. Now my family is as attached to Duke and Fuqua as I am, and Durham has become a place of many, many good memories that we wouldn’t trade for the world. And most importantly, both my wife and I came out of this experience closer than ever before, ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead of us.
Many of the soul-searching activities that I partook in at school were around keywords. What are some keywords you would use to describe yourself? Mine have, and always will be, first and foremost, husband and father. Now I can add Fuquan to that list. Everything else is mayonnaise.