Leaving Home

Last year, I moved from across the country for a professional opportunity. Many people questioned my decision, for many reasons.

Why did I have to leave my hometown to pursue my career? Were there not many opportunities right here at home? Why did I not leverage my graduate degree from the No.3 school in the country to some higher or more lucrative position? Couldn't I be at the top of a bigger masthead (ahem, in my hometown)? Or, better yet, couldn't I be at the bottom of the masthead at some travel magazine (no offense) based near my home?

For reasons that only now, one year later, have begun to puzzle me, I'm starting to reconsider my decision. But, first, I suppose I should tell you about the decision itself. I was languishing in my hometown. My life was a bunch of tangents and not a straight path to my goal (to be the next Katherine Graham).

I'd always wanted to be an attorney, but then the thought of working 80+ hours a week as a civil litigator just didn't appeal to me. I couldn't fill out the applications and explain why I wanted to be a lawyer -- I just didn't want it anymore. So, I turned what was a hobby from the time I was 15 into my career. I took a year off between graduating from college and starting grad school to see whether this choice was truly feasible. I picked unconventional doors, and many of them. And, I was picky about where I actually knocked and entered.

I worked as a spokesperson for a political campaign, serving as an ethnic community liaison for the candidate. I joined the public relations staff at a city commission. I wrote many freelance articles. I tried for a job at a local paper. But, the person interviewing me had used my resume as a coaster. I was nonplussed.

I ended up in graduate school, but had to take a leave of absence to manage a family crisis. When I actually started, I began doubting the importance of a sheepskin that said I had mastered journalism. But, after the two years were up, I realized that the network of reportorial and editorial luminaries in which I'd been enmeshed had more than made up for the confusion as to whether journalism academia was inorganic or whether the study of editing outside a newsroom was nebulous.

And, again, I languished. During my second year of J-School, I interned at a fabulous music magazine. Intern meaning everything from calling Playboy to determine whether a photograph of a balding man at a piano was truly Peter Cincotti (nope, definitely not), to reorganizing decades worth of archives, to editing and proofreading copy, to laughing about movies and discussing the finer points of our grammarian trade with my editors. But, unfortunately, there was no room for me to grow at this institution after my stint as editorial intern. The masthead was full.

I could have been resentful that I maybe picked the wrong place. But, truth be told, I had so much fun there, and I felt tremendously appreciated and intelligent within the framework of what I was contributing. So, it was good. But, come June (and I worked on my graduation day, no less), I still had no full-time job. While my internship had afforded me a space, a little cubicle whose walls I could decorate with band swag, now I had no space. No coveted desk.

So, I spent the summer trying to figure out what to do. Honestly, I didn't try very hard to find something in my hometown. And, I probably copped myself out of a lot of options for much the same reasons that I'm considering moving back (yes, I'm getting there). I'd see postings on journalismjobs.com for copy editing positions in various parts of the state ... and I would think, Why the hell would I want to move three hours away North and pay rent and be away from my "heehee crowd" and family for a piddly job like that. (As it turns out, I have pride.)

Then, the worst blow came when my mother's friend needed a favor. Her accounting staff was one member short. So, for the longest ten weeks of my life, I worked in a major television network's accounts payable department as a data processor, filling out piles and piles of paperwork detailing purchase orders and payments. And, being chided (seriously) for not using a paper clip correctly.

So, when a friend told me this job opportunity was available cross country, began to seriously consider a multiple thousands of miles move across the country. I'd be at the helm of a community newspaper. Responsible for all things, editing, proofreading, pagination, communication, etc. The pay wasn't (isn't) that great. $36,000 plus benefits (no dental, no vision), and the people who hired me arranged for a temporary place for me to stay for the first four months that I was here.

It's been a strange year. I spent a lot of time in someone else's space while trying to get settled in my new environment. I've been trying to socialize here, but the job sometimes just takes up too much of my mental time and emotional energy, and I will generally opt for a quiet weekend of watching syndicated television instead of bundling up to go to the mall or the bookstore. In my hometown, though, this would be the prompt for "me time." Time on a Sunday afternoon, or any free two hours of my day for that matter, to plop down in a quiet corner of Barnes and Noble to read some magazines or a few books while sipping on my pacifier (Venti Chai Latte) to calm my frayed nerves.

In a lot of ways, I've come out of my hometown routine largely unscathed. No nervous breakdowns, no cyclic vomiting episodes. But, what I have missed especially as of late, has been my circle of friends. At least having the opportunity, even if I'm going to turn it down due to fatigue or lack of interest (or lack of desire to find the right outfit, damnit), to be able to meet up with friends at a bar or to grab coffee at a Coffee Bean or to have dinner at the end of the week.

Here, I've not really met a lot of people. Those that I did meet were troubled and perplexed by my work schedule and thought I was an ice princess who just didn't want to socialize. Not true, said I. But, alas. So, while I say 'who needs them anyway?" to the people here, I'm sort of thinking 'I need my friends back home, though.'

First, let me tell you how 36K gets you absolutely nowhere, except for having to put your loans in forbearance, and having to use public transportation, because there's no chance you can afford a car payment and the subsequent insurance on said vehicle after you pay rent and utilities, and maybe shop for food once a month, and wash your clothes. But, all those inconveniences aside, when you start to weigh how much you're making and how satisfied you are with your job against how little emotional satisfaction you get at the end of your week, or how much love you receive in your environs ... it's really a matter of priorities, then.

I know a lot of people who are able to say "OK. I'm going off to be an I-banker and I don't mind the fact that my social life will be shot to hell for a few years, that my hours will be all messed up, and more than that, that I have to be in Chicago while everyone I know is in Los Angeles." Those same people are the ones who click their tongue at you for when you start having these familial compunctions and want to return back to what's familiar, as it were, at the detriment (seeming) of your career.

So, here I am, 12 months into this move. I didn't want to "go home" when my grandfather died. I didn't want to go home for the entire eight months that I watched my friend slowly die of cancer (more on that in another entry). In fact, all these things motivated me to keep fighting against those nagging emotional demons that would sooner have me return to my mom's home cooking and my brother's hugs, and all my friends who love and support me outright and unconditionally.

I'm kind of done with this fight, at least on this battleground. I know people say the grass is always greener. I thought the East was going to be a lush pasture, despite having arrived here at its most frigid February last year. Not only do I have my coveted desk, but I have an office whose walls are decorated with my chosen artwork and photos of my adorable baby goddaughter. I have my whiteboard where I get to compartmentalize the weekly paper (or cannibalize the next week's paper, depending on articles).

I've broken stories here and written articles such that our niche hasn't seen in a decade. I'm happy with my job, I think I rock the editing world, and one day I'll win a Pulitzer. But, it's not going to mean anything without having all the "little people" to thank. So, time to go back.

Been there?

PatientRapunzel PatientRapunzel
31-35, F
4 Responses Feb 1, 2006

But USA still has job opportunities than Canada, I can vouch for that. Apart from being in the military, I do several other jobs part time, which fetches extra coins into my wallet. I have also linked several of my colleagues. It's not an opportunity of my position or luck, because I wonder why most people say they're looking for a job, it's everywhere or you create one for yourself. Most of those part time jobs that I have ever done didn't require my experience or much skills, and some of them fetch over 10k monthly, it's just a matter of you asking and getting connected instead of doing things all by yourself, life becomes harder when you don't share your problems, so you don't get any helping hand. I am not a good samaritan, but I love helping people a lot, advises doesn't kill, you can accept to use it or ignore it, but you ask to know more and no knowledge is a waste. I don't visit EP much often because some of the discussions I join gets very boring. But I do welcome serious minded people with good opinions, to discussing whatever issue burdening on their minds, I'm a free and open person. Capt. Lewin Becks. lewin.becks@yahoo.com

We all need friends and/or family. Life is worthless without them. You will either make friends/family where you live, or you will move back home where they are. It takes more than a year to make good friends, and you have to make an effort to be friends at the beginning. It's not like high school or college where you hang out with each other so much you naturally become friends. You have to see people over and over and over again in a non-school setting. You have to "go out together" or , I never liked this one, join a club.<br />
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That being said, the friends I make as I get older aren't the same as those friends when I was younger. I value the high school year/friends more, right or wrong. But I don't even remember my best friend in junior high school. I feel like the friends I make when I'm older are less real or more superficial. But I think that's because somehow I'm less real and more superficial. <br />
Now, I have three daughters and a wife. I barely have time for my friends, and my new life is taking over my old one. A litmus test for new friends now is that they have kids. <br />
The world changes fast, and very unexpectedly. Jump in with your arms up high. <br />
My mother (born and raised elsewhere) always thought it was crazy us Americans would travel so far away from our families for jobs/experiences/life. She's kinda right. It is crazy to spend less time with your family for work. <br />
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But who knows? You might meet your future spouse in a few months, and start your own family...

Great! (And great writing too) I can and can't relate, but it's so good to read. I'm in kind of the same place you were, except I have a good job that I enjoy already. Apart from that, though, I feel as if my life's going nowhere - in fact, I think it's going backwards. I've always dreamed of moving to the States, probably Southern California, but I'm so worried that I'd have the same issues that you faced. You certainly didn't set my mind at rest, but you gave me a little more information - thanks!

Terrific! I can see/feel that you will win a Pulitzer one fine day. After digesting your experience, I certainly can relate. I too have cast aside the "easier softer way" to acheive my innermost desires. You have chosen to stay put in a "new" locale WITHOUT your closest available. This is admirable. I find that most people (70-80%) stay in a comfort zone that gets them nowhere. With your courage to go out on your own (in every way) shows me that you are driven, focused, resourseful and dynamic. A dear freind of mine ventured onto Japan for a teaching contract.... she loved it, except for Sundays. That day of the week caused her stress. Again it"s the attachment. She now has returned and now she misses her Sundays she USED to have in Japan. Go fiqure. Anyhoo... I enjoyed your experience and have a good time.<br />
Regards,<br />