Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Price Tag

Over the weekend, I watched the movie "Up In the Air." I had heard good things about this film, and I was anxious to see it. The movie itself was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it. One line stuck out to me and had me thinking the rest of the day.

"How much did they first pay you to give up on your dream?"

This line resonated with me as much as the character that George Clooney said it to. And just like that character, I immediately knew the answer.

They paid me $37,000 a year. Plus benefits. And a sweet discount.

And I didn't think I was giving anything up at the time. I thought I was getting a sweet deal. I had just gotten back from my wedding and honeymoon, and the summer was turning to fall. The thought of beginning a job search to find a job in my field seemed daunting and somewhat pointless. We didn't know where my husband's job was going to lead, and it seemed like the right thing at the time.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. In retrospect, I gave 5 years of my life to a company that didn't give a tiny rat's ass about me as person, as an individual. I made beautiful, wonderful friends there. I got great experience there. But it was clear, from the beginning that I was not following my dream. I was not happy, not truly happy. I gave up a job in a lower paying position in my field that might have been just what I needed. I passed up the opportunity because someone was offering me a flashy price tag.

A few years, I fortunate enough to get an out. The company I worked for started showing their true colors in my mind, and I realized that my dream was not to move forward with this position. I wasn't going to be a store manager, I didn't want to be a corporate person. I didn't want to spend my life or frankly, one more minute that I didn't have to. So began the search for something that would let me follow what I really wanted to do, what I knew in my heart would make me happy.

And you know what? It was HARD. That 5 years made it HARD to get back on the track I wanted to be on. And it was because of that price tag. It was because we were used to that paycheck, and frankly needed that paycheck. Any less would make life harder. And I am not saying that I don't need to pay my dues, because I do. People who think that just because they went to college, they deserve their dream job right away, make me stabby. People that don't think they need to work to acheive what they want. I believe in lucky breaks, sure. But I also believe in hardwork. I am starting a few years later than I should have.

Again, I was fortunate to fins a new job that paid me better and would allow me to get back on track. 3 years later, and I feel like I am finally get a sense of what I truly want, and where I want to be, what I want to do with my life. And it's a struggle. It's not coming easy, especially in today's economy. The competition is fierce and my decisions are not only limited by finances (still) but also by how it will affect my son. I am not willing to compromise his stability or his schedule at this time. That is a personal decision that we made as a family. And it isn't one I am going to retract on.

At this point in my life, I know I live with the choices I made. Of course there are things I would have done differently, money I would have saved, decisions I would have made differently. But ultimately, I know I made the best choice, seemingly at the time. I finally feel like I can getting back to the point that I dreamed of being at, the job I envisioned, the life I wanted.

But that was how much I got paid to give up following my dream. Was it worth that? Nope. You can't put a price on that.

1 comment:

Paulina Flay said...

Although we've had this conversation, it was more poignant to hear it in the written word. Very thought provoking prose.