Do I have to choose between love and my career?

Let me ponder your problem this weekend. How's your relationship life? What's stressing you out? Send a question about it to [email protected] or fill out this form.

Dear Meredith,

I'm terrified of ending up alone because of my career. I'm in my late 20s now. For the past two years I've been working tirelessly toward a job in my country's foreign service and finally got it. I started my training two months ago. I should have been over the moon, but my ex-boyfriend dumped me the day after I was sworn in. I was so hopeful when I met him because he's an avid traveler and very interested in foreign cultures. I made it very clear that I wanted something serious and what my future was going to look like. We had a fantastic relationship and connected on so many levels. I really thought I had found the one for me. As it turns out, he strung me along for half a year just to tell me that he couldn't commit after all. He "didn't want to miss out" and took off to travel the world on his own. I've been devastated ever since.

I am excited for my job but I desperately want a family of my own and I feel like I'm running out of time. I live in a big cosmopolitan city and feel like nobody my age even wants to settle down anymore, let alone with a woman you'd have to give up your entire life and career for. I know that I'm asking for a lot. I know that my potential partner would have to make a lot of sacrifices. Am I being selfish for still holding out hope? Should I just accept my fate and choose one or the other, my career or a family of my own? Can women have both?

– Both

Let's not make this a "can women have it all" thing. Let's keep this focused on you.

You do not have to choose between work and your personal life right now. Take a deep breath and stop jumping to every terrible conclusion. Some thoughts:

1.You're not over this breakup. That means your lens is pretty foggy right now. If you were in a small town and planned to stay there forever, you'd still fear you wouldn't be able to meet someone new. You're experiencing breakup panic, but it doesn't reflect what's actually possible.

2. You said you're a woman in your late 20s in a cosmopolitan city with an incredible job. Let's just have a little toast to you being awesome, OK?

3. The family stuff can happen with a job like this, but maybe not on the timeline you thought. You shouldn't go into every first date saying, "I want serious things!" because you don't know what you want with any of these people. Please try to slow this down and get to know potential partners. You could wind up meeting someone great at 30 and having a family by 35. Do not rush.

4. Do not assume someone would have to give up everything and make sacrifices for you. You could meet someone who's excited about this kind of life. You might also meet someone with the same kind of job. Oh – and you could decide years from now that it's time for some kind of compromise. Not every career choice is meant to last forever. Focus on now.

5. Some of the the people your age do want to settle down, or maybe they will soon. Also, some of the people who don't want to settle down might love the life you offer because it involves so much change.

I guess the big thing here is that it's not one or the other, and everything is still possible. You're at an incredible age to pursue all things. This breakup is disappointing and frustrating, but it doesn't mean anything about your future.

Try not to panic. It all sounds pretty exciting to me.

And keep us posted.

– Meredith

Readers? After a breakup, everything can feel impossible or out of reach. What would you tell this letter writer?