- 3 years ago
Background: I recently finished my master’s degree in a very small and very specialized field. There are so few jobs that I know colleagues (both men and women) who have been married for a decade and have never lived with their spouse for more than a month or two at a time. One woman I know has a husband and a new baby and just accepted a job that is 3 hours away. Most of the positions are grant funded, so they are short term and do not pay much, and most of them are in big cities like New York and DC.
Instead of throwing myself into the short-term-fellowship-and-grant-project blender, as was exected of me after graduation, I decided to go back to my hometown in the Midwest and do freelance work (which there was a LOT of) while I waited for a certain institution to get funding for a job that they had been promising to me for the past three years while I was in school. My boyfriend came with me because with his job he can live wherever, but he had no connection in the city except for me. At one point, the director asked me to write a job decscription for the position, which I did. My other dealings with them had proven that the organization is disorganized and that the director is an ineffective leader, but I was willing to overlook that because I wanted that job. The past year has been pretty rough. I don’t like freelancing- the lack of steady pay and benefits stresses me out, especially with student loans to pay. I have also discovered that I am one of those people who, if I have not “set” work schedule, I feel guilty whenever I am doing anything besides working because I could always be making more money. Long story short, we were miserable, and it was looking less and less likely that that job was ever going to materialize.
So, we made the decision to move back to boyfriend’s hometown up north. This decision made sense because he already owns a house out there (which means that we have been paying for two places to live while we have been here), and while he has no friends or family here, I already know and like many of his hometown friends and I absolutely LOVE his family who live there. There were also some good potential jobs for me in the area. One in particular is in a related field, and would allow me to develop more related skills that I find interesting and am excited about. We were happy and excited about our decision to move- making plans with friends for a Halloween party, drawing up schemes for renovating the house, and planning to adopt a dog who could enjoy the huge backyard.
Here’s the good part: So about a week ago, I get an email from a colleague- the organization that I had been waiting on POSTED THE JOB WITHOUT TELLING ME. I understand that maybe there was some sort of HR thing where they couldn’t tell me or soemthing- except that for the past 3 years I have been explicitly told that I would be the first to know as soon as they got the fundign and that the job was essentially mine. Even better, they POSTED THE JOB DESCRIPTION THAT I WROTE. When I tried to contact the director, whom I had thought I had a good relationship with, I found that he had gone on vacation for the ENTIRE POSTING PERIOD. He literally skipped town, guys. I have been getting emails and calls from colleagues- “You must be so excited! Congratulations!”
Here’s the thing: I have decided not to apply. I feel angry and betrayed, and after a year of struggle and misery, my boyfriend and I are both just done with this city and the lack of accountability among colleagues here. I have yet to receive a firm offer from the other company in his hometown, but I am pretty confident that it is coming soon, and even though I know that many of my colleagues will not understand or value the connection to my current field, I am no longer willing to sacrifice my relationship or quality of life for this profession. To me, it is a choice between having a stable life where I can be with the person that I love, travel, and work a job that will allow me to pay off my debts and learn new skills, or sacrifice my relationship to spend 8-to-10 month stints in unrelated cities, never setting down roots and never having any professional stability.
I have struggled with similar decisions so much in the past that I have made myself physically sick with worry. This time, though, I feel at peace. I know thta I will get a lot of raised eyebrows and flack from those in my professional community. I also know that many of them, especially the women, will understand and will wish that they could make a similar choice. I know there isn’t really a question here- I just wanted to vent and share my story with some of you and see if anyone has faced a similar decision in the past and how it turned out.