Today I was challenged to consider surprises, large and small. This exercise was fun because, even though some of the surprises were negative, most of them were positive. One in particular seems to encourage sticking to my values – years ago I accepted a job offer from a large company that had acquired the company I was working for. The new company wanted me to work from corporate headquarters, which would have required a move out of state. I was willing to move, but I asked if I could postpone the move and telecommute for a few months, as I was teaching a class at a local law school and wanted to finish the semester. The hiring manager asked how strongly I felt about staying put – and when I said I felt I should really stick around until the end of the semester, he withdrew the job offer. I was shocked and angry for a while, and my self-confidence took a hit, but I ended up getting a better job that was local.
Something similar happened more recently: I got an offer for a job that I was not enthusiastic about. A good job, a decent offer, great benefits in a terrible economy. Common sense and conventional wisdom would dictate that I accept the offer and start working. However, taking a job I was not passionate about seemed wrong. I didn’t have the guts to turn it down, but I made what I thought was a reasonable counter-offer (a little more money and flexible work arrangement). The hiring manager, citing my “demand” for flexible work arrangements, withdrew the offer. I am still smarting a bit from that one, but I hope that this was just one of those things that was not meant to be – because something better is on the horizon. (how’s that for ruthless optimism?)
So, hopefully staying true to myself will work out for the best.
One side note: I realize that my search and my equanimity about lost opportunities are made possible by the fact that we lived well within our means for a long time and greatly slashed expenses after I was laid off. This thinking time and my ability to be picky about my career are luxuries in this economy, and I am thankful to my husband and family for supporting these endeavors.
The other prompt from Segalove’s book probed reactions to alone time. As a borderline introvert, I LOVE alone time. I listed so many things I love to do when alone, and the list made me realize how much I love to have alone time. In fact, the list was so long I started to wonder if it showed how selfish I was because how can a wife and mother of 3 small children like to be away from them so much? I consoled myself by remembering that my grandmother took care of her own needs, loved to go walking on her own and spent time (alone) caring for her plants. And then I read something from a book about prayer that alone time is necessary to escape the noise of everyday life and to create a quiet and private space to make room for God. THAT made me feel much better (until I remembered that my alone time is often spent on Facebook). Oh well.
Lessons from today:
- make life decisions based on internal values – even when those values run contrary to convention or common sense. Ultimately, values based decisions will produce the happiest outcomes
- Preserve alone time – don’t feel guilty (but don’t fritter it away on Facebook 🙂