Monday, July 26, 2010

...but what is right?

One of the things that makes being an adult unique is that there never seems to be an obvious right answer. While I’d come to the conclusion that my drought in finding appealing job opportunities was all in alignment with the fates pushing me toward an adventure in South America, now a wrench has been thrown in: a job offer with a company I spent the last year trying to get in with. While at first this seems like an obvious opportunity to jump ship, wipe out my pending trip and begin a new career, there is always a catch: the job is less money than what I make, and the position is not the one I applied for. I understand that many time to move ahead you have to take a step back, but what worries me is that I make this commitment, I will then losing the freedom (both financially and professionally) to find either the perfect opportunity or pack my bags for the thrills of exploring another continent. If I don’t take my trip now, I’m not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to do it again, or if I’ll want to take that challenge again. However, I also don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to get my foot in the door again with this company should I rescind this offer.

Growing up, most difficult choices are escalated to the judgment of parents or advisors. And even the more life-changing choices such as where to attend college or what to study all generally fall within the confines of the “youth” safety net. But as an adult, decisions are made more independently and making the wrong choice can affect the rest of your life severely. People miss out on opportune investments and lament the fortunes that could have been theirs. Some invest poorly, and watch their savings dwindle away. Short-term positions with the promise of potential great opportunities are taken only to find that the one-year contract was actually limited to the term originally outlined. Sometimes taking a risk is the right way to go, and other times playing it safe turns out to have been the better choice- but there is no bona fide test to help in the assessment.

Making a switch in companies is a commitment just like dating. Right now my job status is pretty similar to my dating status: opportunities to pursue, but fear of actually committing. (Please pardon my ambiguity, but I’d prefer to not make an exposé of my love life, though the comparison is relevant.) I have been fortunate to meet a lot of good guys, and gone on several dates with a few. Though the moment the string of dates starts to blur into the defining “us” stage where the casual dinners don’t suffice and suddenly I’m being reluctantly carried along to meet his friends… I get scared and push away. I’m in a comfortable place right now: I have my safety net with my current employer (kind of like that good guy friend you can always fall back on), and several prospects letting me carry them along, plus the freedom to meet someone new and better.

A little over a month ago, I’d interviewed for a job that, though it was hardly what I’d ever envisioned doing for my career, I was infatuated. I was ready to shake hands with the hiring manager and make a commitment. During the limbo days preceding receiving news of their decision, I had dreams of professional monogamy: I saw myself finding a home and a partnership with which I could grow. I thought I had found “the one”. The phone call to learn that they’d filled the position with another candidate felt a lot like being left at the altar. For me, such a commitment-phobe, to have been ready to make that move led me to believe that it was right. I never imagined that I’d be rejected.

Now knowing that I’ve been in love before, how can I just settle? Even though this new opportunity has the promise of a stable future and the chance to grow in different fields, it eliminates the possibility of forging out on my own adventures and finding my professional soul mate. Accepting this position is safe and a good fit, but just not the perfect fit. I’m not sure what the right answer is, and I’m not how much longer I can continue to interview and reject offers.

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