There has been something weighing heavily on my mind since December 12. Well, when I wasn’t consumed by the holidays, it was on my mind. And now that the holiday craze has come to an end, it’s all I can think about. I’m absolutely consumed and conflicted.
On December 12, at the end of my work day, just as I was freshening up to leave for our work holiday party, where we would recap our phenomenal year as a staff and organization, as well as celebrate a retiring member of our team, my phone rang. It was one of my design friends who I met while in school for interior design and who I still try to keep in touch with on a somewhat regular basis. I never expected the news she was about to share with me.
The design company that she interned at while we were in school and has been employed with for the past year – the same company that I did half my internship with…is hiring another full-time designer. My friend, the other staff who I spent my time interning with, and the owner all thought of me for the job. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe the timing. I was about to spend a wonderful evening with my colleagues and suddenly I felt like I was cheating on them for “flirting” with the idea of a new job.
I told my friend where I was heading and that we’d talk in more detail later and as I left the building, my head swirled. Things are finally good at work. Salary is good – more than I’ll ever make as an admin anyplace else. My boss is amazing and someone who believes in me and encourages me to step outside the boundaries of being just an assistant. I have great coworkers. And I love the organization and all it does for the community. I decided there was no way I’d even entertain the thought of leaving any further. I’d still hear my friend out but I was pretty firm about my concerns.
A few days later she invited me over for wine and pizza so we could chat. She told me all about her job and how much she loves it, how much they are growing and how consistently busy they are that they need to hire not only another designer, but office and warehouse personnel as well. My first thought was that I and the other new folks would be the first to go if things didn’t stay so busy. I was playing devil’s advocate.
We talked salary – my number one issue and reason for not pursuing design at the moment. I felt it would be awkward to ask my friend what she makes, but I’d be willing to bet my salary could be cut by as much as half of what I make now. But there’s things to factor in like: my outrageous commute each day 35+ miles there and back, plus gas, plus $85 a month to park my car – and that’s one of the cheaper lots!
We talked hours – another biggie. I used to work in retail and hospitality jobs and I actually enjoyed them. What I didn’t always enjoy was losing my evenings, weekends, and holidays. I hated that I’d have to ask an employer for permission for a Saturday off, just so I could have dinner with family for a special occasion. I’ve gotten pretty spoiled by the Monday-Friday 9to5 thing. This job would have an even later start time, yet most days I’d still be getting home at the same time, if not earlier than the commute I deal with now. I failed to mention that this new job is 10 minutes from my house – less than six miles away.
The tough part with the schedule would be the two nights they are there late – til 830. I guess that’s not a huge deal because the tradeoff is they are closed on Wednesday, so I’d be gaining a day off for appointments, errands, anything. But more likely it would end up being a day that I’d pick up a few hours at a second job because I fear I’d have to. The most difficult part of all is working Saturdays. It would be giving up a lot. Ok, so if I wrapped up the day at 5pm, I could still do dinners with the family. But I’d miss the soccer games for my niece and nephew. I’d miss going out to breakfast with hubby once in a while. And most of all, I’d miss out on the marathon training group – a group of amazing individuals who helped me do something I thought was impossible. They were my rock, my family. Even though getting up at 5am on Saturday mornings to run was downright painful – I couldn’t trade it for the world.
But what happens if I can’t fix this nagging injury/pain/problem I’ve been dealing with for the past year and a half? Am I willing to pass on a new and exciting job opportunity because I might be able to run another marathon? Could I do both? There’s so much to think about that I haven’t even scratched the surface.
What about benefits? Thankfully I’m on my husband’s insurance but what about 401K? What about vacation and sick days? I’ve been at my current job for 8.5 years and finally accruing close to four weeks vacation. Would I have to start over? Zero days until after working a year? Some places are like that, especially the smaller ones. But let’s be real here. We’ve taken a few trips over the past few years, especially when we needed an escape from infertility and ttc failure, but in the last six months or so, I sat down and took a real hard look at finances and mapped out a plan for us. We discovered that if we really put our nose the grindstone, we’d be in really good shape in about 2.5 years. It’s the first time I felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel with paying things down, while saving a decent amount each month. With the notion of the future being “just us two,” we talk about things we’d like to do. Adventures, classes, travel, experiencing life without all the “what-ifs” that have plagued us these last 4+ years.
If I took a job with a lesser salary, all of that would be put on hold. It wouldn’t be forever, but it would definitely take us longer to get there. Is that a risk I’m willing to take?
And then there’s fear. Plain old can’t, doubt, stop me in my tracks, FEAR. I have very little experience as a designer. Sure I’ve done plenty for my own house and have given advice to friends and family, but if something didn’t turn out right, I don’t have to fire myself. Would I even be able to do this? I’ve been out of the loop for a while. I graduated from the design program 2.5 years ago. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. My friend tells me that I shouldn’t worry, that they all learn from one another and I’d never have to feel stuck or afraid to ask for help. How many jobs can you say that about? And I believe her. When I interned there, it was a wonderful experience – a family business with a family feel. A group of the warmest, nicest, non-judgmental folks I’ve ever met. My friend included. It would be such fun to work with her every day and grow our friendship even more.
I also think about my side venture that I never seem to get off the ground. I’ve been wanting to open an online shop of handmade items for the home. I always thought it felt like a safe way for me to ease myself into design. I thought it would marry my art background and interior design dreams. But that’s been on hold for the past two years as well. Partly because I lost interest in a lot of things due to ttc, but I think also because I’ve become so complacent in life. Things were just…ok. There was no need to do anything more, even if that meant something I might actually enjoy. Most days, I was just drained. Go to work where I’d have an OK day, drive home for an hour, be drained and do nothing with myself. Unless I was running. Otherwise, I’d come home and daydream about how things could be.
Is that what I want to continue doing? Maybe I could finally push myself to open my shop? First, out of necessity if this new job opportunity was cinching the belt too tightly. But second, it could lead to other things. What better way to introduce home goods than through an already established designer’s showroom? She’s already doing that for some other artisans. So much to think about, numbers to crunch, compromises and decisions to make.
I think the biggest question is, do I want to keep doing what I’m doing? Is this what I want out of life? Spinning my wheels, always wondering? Do I give new opportunities at my current job a try because it’s safer? Or do I give an entirely new opportunity a try because it could be what I’m destined to do?
I guess there’s no way to know until I decide…