Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scary Big Decisions Need to be Made

My company came to me today and offered me my dream client. Although I work in a primarily domestic field, my new potential client is the pinnacle of positioning in the world of international affairs. And I did get a Master’s in International Relations and swear upon graduation that I would find a way to make the world a better place.

Here is the catch. The client is in Washington, DC. And I hate Washington, DC. I lived there for precisely one year and it was one of the worst years of my life. Now, I can’t blame DC for my horrendous year. But living in New York has proven to me that where you live can make a difference in the quality of your life.

What’s so great about New York? Everything.

Six years ago, I was selling men’s suits at the mall and working as a cocktail waitress at night to save up my money for a trip around the world. I sat in my tiny studio apartment in Seattle, Washington and I came up with a plan to escape my hum drum life and restore my personal integrity. A BA in Political Science in my back pocket and a multitude of International fantasies in my head, I decided that I would apply to graduate school for an MA in International Relations and pursue a career outside of the United States. I spoke with my professors and researched the best school for my field of interest. Sitting in the UW computer lab on a rainy Thursday night, I pushed the send button on the only application I would be sending off for grad school.

I told myself, if it was meant to be then it would happen. Then I tucked my books back into my book bag, left the lab and promptly forgot about the application. Instead, I focused on planning the world’s greatest sabbatical to Europe, Egypt and beyond.

Three months later, I had sold everything I owned and was mere days before boarding a plane with a tiny back pack. I ducked into the Starbucks on Third Avenue to check my e-mail and there it was.

I was accepted into the number one school in the country for my desired degree.

I called my mom on the phone as I rushed back to the suit store.

“I’m smart, I’m really smart.” I told her.

Graduate school had fallen into my lap and nothing ever fell into my lap. Unless it was meant to be.

I traveled, I came home, I moved my little bag across the country, I suffered through a year of school while holding two part time jobs, I got internships in Bosnia and Rome, I came back for my final year, I sat for and passed the written and oral US Foreign Service Exam and I moved to Washington DC with a man that I thought I would marry and set myself up for the career and the life for which I had always dreamed.

But I sat. And I sat. And I sat some more. My numbers didn’t put me at the top of the State Departments list. I applied for other, less glamorous jobs. I tried to turn my previous internships into full-time jobs. But I got nothing. Nothing but short term contracts and a waitressing job on Connecticut Avenue. It wasn’t coming easy. It was hell.

My relationships suffered. I suffered. I lost myself to the pain of unemployment and the resulting insecurity. After a year, I was single, spiritually bankrupt and desperate to use my brain for something else besides skimming bogus tips off successful Hill staffers.

I prayed. A lot.

Then something happened. At the premier for my reality TV show I was introduced to a man that referred me to a company in New York City. They were thrilled to have me and offered me great financial incentives to re-locate. The show reward made the expensive move possible. It all happened very easily.

As if it was meant to be.

New York offered a myriad of distractions. All of the culture and vitality that DC lacked was made up for in New York within a week of my move. I found the perfect apartment; I made friends quickly and easily. The coffee shop knew how I liked my coffee and had it ready for me by the time I reached the cash register. I had arrived.

In DC my life had been about finding work. In New York, my life has been about finding time to enjoy all the new relationships I’ve formed. …relationships with new girlfriends, relationships with new institutions, a relationship with myself.

Suddenly, where I worked did not define me, rather the friends that I was making along the way. How I was going to affect and change the world had become how I was going to affect the lives of the people that I loved and that loved me.

Before long, my job became unfulfilling. Work was a place I punched the time card in between meetings with friends, classes, culture, dancing and theater. I felt like my job was holding me back, suppressing my creativity. Newfound confidence had me imagining a career where I was giving back more directly and fully embracing all of my natural professional gifts.

Just as I’m thinking all of this, a chain of events at work hands me a scary big decision.

I have two months of trial period where I can straddle both cities and then I will be expected to move. I have two months to think about other options that would keep me in New York, all the while exploring the opportunity to work with an organization I have only dreamt of getting into.

I have two months to make a decision that will set my life in a totally new direction.

No matter what I decide, my life is about to change. And change is scary.

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posted by Pop Culture Casualty @ 2/23/2006 10:43:00 PM |


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