I watch The Hills – not afraid to admit it. Well, I guess I should say that I used to watch The Hills, since it recently had its series finale. But whether you watched it or not or believed in the reality of the show or not, you have to admit that it was certainly a big part of pop culture for a span of 4-6 years. One of the more culturally significant scenes of the show was when main character, Lauren Conrad, had a choice to make at the end of the 2nd season. Does she go to Paris for the summer for her job or does she stay and spend the summer with her then boyfriend/ “love of her life,” Jason Wahler?
Lauren eventually chose Jason and thus became known as the girl who didn’t go to Paris, put so eloquently by her boss at the beginning of the next season. For whatever reason, that scene always resonated with me. I think because as a woman, our generation of women sometimes feel like we are faced with that decision often (career or love-life)… and I know plenty of women who have secretly wondered if they can truly do both successfully.
Well, recently I was faced with a similar decision – although not as blatantly said. Since January, I’ve been on the job grind, for a few reasons. I was starting to feel a little restless in my position, knowing that I would have been there 2 years at the end of July 2010. But I also felt like it was the perfect time to be in a state of transition. In January, I wasn’t dating anyone seriously and had no obligations outside of myself (and distant ones to family and my god daughter, of course, but nothing that was holding me to DC). I felt like it was the perfect time, if any, that if an opportunity came up in Chicago or NYC, I could pick up and move with no real consequences. (To note: this was after Cosby Show and I decided things were not going to work towards the end of January.)
So I started looking and decided on 5 major cities that I would consider – NYC, Philly, Chicago, DC and home (New Orleans). As far as I was concerned, neither city had a lead over another – they were just cities that I could see myself legitimately living for a few years, with maybe home as the only implied long term destination. I also had some other rules set for myself: the job had to be a move up in my career – so that meant no lateral moves – and I wouldn’t leave my current job for less than $10, 000 more than what I was already making. I didn’t want to be changing positions just to do it, with no real purpose behind it all.
And I set out on my journey: job searching and applying, job searching and applying. Occasionally, I had an interview or two, but nothing really panned out. During this same time, however, two things started happening that I didn’t foresee. I started spending time with Jake again (unconsciously making NYC a preference amongst the 5 cities now) and my job began to offer me more projects and opportunities – eliminating the whole restless thing I had going on (although I still wanted more money). Even with those two things occurring, I kept searching and applying, believing that wherever I was supposed to be – something/ the right thing would come through for me. And one day, I received a call for a job I’d applied for in Brooklyn and they wanted me to come up for an interview. Having been through a few interviews prior, I didn’t get overly excited but it certainly had everything I was looking for (great career potential, more money, and this new found desire for NYC). I went to the 1st interview and I KNEW I’d knocked that interview out of the park.
Suddenly, the idea of NYC was starting to seem real and the fact that I’d stayed with Jake when I went up there for the interview only solidified my desire to be there. When he hugged me goodbye that Friday night after the interview and spending the day with him, the idea of going back to DC that weekend was pure torture. All I could think of at that point was NYC, NYC, NYC lol. I mean, who wouldn’t right? Great job, great city, guy I want lives in that city – I was good to go. Except that when I went in for the 2nd interview, I learned that the job wasn’t quite as great as I initially thought. In fact, it wasn’t 10% as great as I initially thought – it was, in essence, going to be a lateral move career wise and money wise, once you calculated cost of living expenses. At the same time, a new exciting position was coming up in my current company in DC. It wasn’t a guarantee, but the important people were considering me as a candidate for the position – something that had many of the qualifications of what I thought the position in Brooklyn had.
Eventually, I was offered the position in NYC and just like Lauren Conrad, had to make a decision to leave or stay. And I struggled. I mean, truly truly struggled to the point that before speaking to my pastor at home, I was literally sick to my stomach with anxiety over this decision. Here I’d been praying for this opportunity to come through and now that it had, something didn’t quite seem right about pursuing it. And I didn’t get why.
A lot of my friends thought that my uncertainty came from a fear of picking up and going somewhere new. But that wasn’t it – after all, this is what I said I wanted months before it became a reality. The problem was that when I sat down and was truly honest with myself, I knew the decision to go to NYC wouldn’t have had anything to do with my career. Sure, it was NYC and mostly every writer wants to be there, but my true desire to be there had nothing to with that job. In fact, that job no longer met any of my requirements from when I started job searching. It was the location and more so the man in the location that was influencing my decision – and once I realized that, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go.
Here were all these great opportunities coming up right where I was and I was contemplating moving because I didn’t want to be in a long distance relationship but I wanted to be with him. How crazy is that?! (especially since even as excited as he seemed about the prospect of me coming there, he never once said, “I want you to come here”.) Now, I’m not saying that there is anything intrinsically wrong with choosing love over your career – but for me, it just didn’t sit right. Not this guy. Not this move. So instead of choosing him, for once in our relationship, I chose me and chose to stay in DC. It may be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. And while I don’t regret it (at all), it did take a while for me to deal with the idea that I didn’t move (and basically fight for us).
I’ve told you before that I love fully, so the idea that I didn’t try everything to make it work – that stayed with me for a bit, until I realized that some things are worth fighting for and some things just are not. I also realized that I did actually fight for something in this situation. I fought for me. And in doing so, I think I gained back just a few of the pieces of me that I lost while with him. And if it took not going to NYC to do that – I’d do it again in a heartbeat.