Feb
17

Talk Me Down!

By
Okay, so I stole the title of this post from the recurring Rachel Maddow Show segment (Have you checked it out since my post about her, BTW?) but it’s just too damn fitting not to use. It’s not plagiarizing if you cite your source, right? So here’s why I need a talking down:

I had a TOTAL “I hate my job” day for reasons I won’t go into here for fear that just the thought of having to recall them will send me into a gauge-my-eyes-out-with-a-rusty-fork tailspin. It just so happens that this very bad day occurred on a day that our ‘letters of intent’ appeared in our mailboxes. This is a form letter given out this time of year, and employees of our school are asked to check one of the following:

A. I would like to be considered for employment for the coming school year (I love how this option is worded– it’s not Yes, I’ll keep my job, thank you — the best we can hope for is “to be considered.”)

B. I will not be returning next year

C. I would like to discuss my plans with you for the next year

Today, I want to check option “B” and be done with it! Problem is, it’s not very prudent, especially in today’s economic climate. But today, I really want to check option “B.” In fact, I want to add option “D” that says While you’re searching for my replacement, you may as well go ahead and find a sub for the remainder of THIS school year too because I don’t think I’ll be coming back anymore.

So I have a dilemma.

Many of you know that Greg and I are currently exploring the possibility of moving back East to be close to family because, let’s face it, they miss the Muffin. (Oh, I suppose they miss me too, but second class citizen now, remember?) Greg has actually revised his resume and agreed to look for a job there. He’s not totally thrilled about leaving his 15-minute commute and giving up (or so he sees it) on his dreams of writing, but he’s had his turn, and now it’s mine.

For his part, Greg is (somewhat) actively on the job hunt. It just got kicked into gear, sparked by a possible lead from my pal Lisa. The lead may or may not pan out, but at least it provided the kick start he needed! For my part, I have agreed to be patient, pragmatic, and realistic about it. That means recognizing that now that we have a baby, we can’t just pick up and move across the country with no jobs and no health insurance the way we did when we moved out here thirteen years ago. And it means recognizing that the combination of these tough economic times and my husband’s wish to somehow find a job in a creative field may very well cause this job search to take a while. Since it will probably be tougher for him to find a job, the plan is for Greg to find a job first, and WHEN he finds one (positive thoughts only allowed here) and we know the location of his new job, we can decide where to live and where to then focus my job search.

I am a teacher. A middle school English teacher. To be blunt, well, I’m not always so happy about this career choice of mine. Don’t get me wrong, some days I do like it. It’s not a bad gig. I like the kids, and there are aspects of the job I enjoy and I’m even good at. At least it’s challenging and I feel like I’m doing something important. Sort of. But it’s not my dream job. I’d love to find a new career that suits me better, and trust me, there’s a whole other blog post about this topic itself, which I already have half composed in my head (’cause that’s how I roll).

Anyway, because I need to be pragmatic, I figured I would go ahead and just sign on for another year at my current school because there are just too many “what ifs” right now. What if Greg does not find a job and we need to stay here in CA a bit longer? What if I miraculously wind up pregnant with baby #2 and it makes more sense to stay until the new little one arrives? What if Greg gets discouraged or becomes complacent about the job search?

I can’t afford to be without a job, but don’t want to look for a new one here, so the smart money is on keeping my spot where I am by telling my administration I’ll be back (Oh, sorry– “I would like to be considered”), and hoping and praying that by contract time in May, I can say, “Oh, sorry, but we’re moving.” And even if Greg doesn’t find a job by May, I can still sign a contract and get out of it when he does find one later with the respectable thirty days’ minimum notice.

Here’s the problem with that: I DON’T WANT TO! Yes, you can go ahead and insert a mental picture of Kelly throwing a toddler-like tantrum. I’m so tired of JUST signing a contract for JUST one more year! I’m tired of playing it safe. I want to be daring. I want to be bold. I want to throw caution and economic common sense to the wind. I want to commit to “I will NOT be returning next year” so that I can be SURE that is exactly what happens. Because I’m afraid that otherwise, it won’t.

You may chalk this all up to my bad day, because this tantrum will pass. It always does. But it also always comes back. That’s a problem, no? I know that in these tough times I should count my blessings and be thankful I have a job and shut up and collect my paycheck. But today, well I guess I’m not in a very grateful mood.

So earlier I said that we could not afford for me to be out of work. On one hand that’s true. On another, well, not entirely. We have a decent savings because of the sale of our townhouse. We dodged a real bullet by not buying a new house after we sold, and it’s afforded us a bit of a financial cushion that has allowed me to work part time this year so that I can enjoy more time with the Muffin. The initial plan was to try to NOT touch the savings for as long as we could hold out. And we did hold out for a bit. First, we just needed to dip into the interest. I was okay with that, since after all, my paycheck was pretty much slashed in half. But the year progressed and Christmas and baby needs, and yes, even a bit of over indulgence caused us to have to transfer money more and more. There have been knots in my stomach recently from watching the savings that was supposed to be earmarked for the house-of-our-dreams slowly circle the drain.

Now we’re not destitute by any stretch of the imagination, but I recognize that it would be financially stupid to just quit my job without a new one. But still, here I am, being financially stupid and wanting to find my bliss instead of sucking it up and dealing with the job I have now…for…one…more…year. God, it’s a struggle to even type.

If Greg doesn’t find a job, I would be happy to eat mac and cheese every night if I didn’t have to go back to that place. I would really be willing to sacrifice for that. And it’s not about staying home with Charlie (even though that’s an added bonus) because I want to work; I just want to find something…more. But even with my best efforts at frugality and fiscal responsibility, it would still cost us some of our savings for me to make this move.

So here’s my big question that I NEED your comments and opinions on: At this point in my life, am I being too selfish and self-indulgent to check option “B?” Should I just deal with the job I have until Greg can find a job and get me out?

Now I know some of you may think I should look for a new job while still keeping the one I have on the back burner to be safe. But I just can’t. Option “B” is about shutting a door– slamming it really — so that I’m firm in my commitment and don’t have the option to wimp out. I know myself. If I leave myself a safety net, I’ll use it. I’ve been tangled in this particular net for years now and I really want out. I just don’t know if the cost (literally) will be too much.

Comments

  1. Ruth says:

    Kelly, Kelly,Kelly..I can feel your frustration. Seems like you are at the end of your “not now”rope.You and Greg have already taken the first step in making the decision to re-locate, You cannot make the job appear,but you can expect Greg to assertivly search, knowing how important this is to you. you both need to decide your priorties, and move in that direction. More time with Charlie =less hours at work=dent in savings. Could Greg take a job that would allow the move to lhappen and look for the “dream” job from NJ? Bottom line.. you have your health, husband, daughter and family, THAT is what is most important. for now, I’d sign the contract(as long as you can get out in 30days) zip the lip and help Greg beat the bushes for a job in NJ. Love you Aunt Ruth

  2. lisa says:

    Okay my friend, well I feel uniquely qualified here to give some advice. Check box “B”! It is a safety measure, a Plan B so to speak.

    I took the bold option. I left one job where I felt stifled, under-valued and in limbo.

    Did that turn into me finding my dream job? Uhm, NO!

    I had 3 months of unemployment that caused some pretty severe financial issues that I still carry today.

    Then I had a freelance job that screamed “you should have just stayed where you were because this is exactly the same”.

    After thank I landed where I am now at a 25% salary cut in the land of the insane that I have been trying to get out of since 5 months after my start date.

    You can’t go backwards and I had the chance to go back to my job at 100% of my old salary and have a do-over but I felt I couldn’t open that door again and I still feel justified in that (my wallet doesn’t but I do).

    You can’t have regrets that hold you from moving forward.

    Do what I am doing now and save yourself some pain – dig in to personal branding, identifying what success in a career looks like to you and work on that with your Plan B in your pocket. Remember Plan B comes with the summer off – 2+ months of extra self-discovery time.

    And I have every confidence that Greg will find something here, likely despite himself 😉 and the move east will be imminent.

    Have hope, sign the contract and hopefully you won’t ever need to use that safety plan.

  3. Minimeltdown says:

    Kelly,

    Almost as long as I’ve known you, you have been caught in the same dilemma…you feel unfulfilled at work and want to quit and you want to move back to NJ. As a new parent myself, I guess while I do realize it’s important to be pragmatic where a little one is concerned, you yourself admit that you quitting your job will not mean that you will be destitute. So, why not quit and then see what happens? You don’t have to quit work forever. In fact, it sounds like you are at your breaking point. And if you quit and find that you really need income down the road, you might have the opportunity to explore another career option in the process. All I’m saying is that I think it’s time to cut the cord and stop worrying about the what-ifs. Normally, that would not be my advice to someone in your situation, but this dilemma has been present for YEARS in your life and I think it’s time to be done with it once and for all. Enough with the status quo. You can figure out the rest later.

    Good luck. I believe this falls into the category of “good stress” which is not much easier than “bad stress.” Although it’s supposed to be.

    Keep us posted.

    P.S. I did watch Rachel Maddow and while I like her politics there is something about her that bothers me…I haven’t put my finger on it but it’s enough to likely prevent me from being a permanent convert.

  4. brewin says:

    Wow–what a post. Can’t say that I didn’t see it coming (so thanks for not blogging about how you really feel like you’re a man trapped in a woman’s body and need some advice, or was that supposed to stay between us? 😉 ) Sorry, humor helps in the midst of personal crisis. Ok, here’s my long response. If I were you I would check plan B and work like hell to get a job I like by the time I’d have to wake up at this ungodly hour to teach. But I’m not you, and what Minimeltdown said rings very true. You are Kelly, and Kelly has been checking plan B for a LONG time. If nothing short of panic will move you in the direction of a new career, then you might have to go bold. It might also scare the pants off Greg long enough for him to go into turbo mode with the job search. The financial reprocussions are real and they’re something to weigh seriously, but if following your bliss and sacrificing home ownership is what will make your life fulfilling, it might be the direction you will need to go. So there’s my two cents. Viya con Dios.

  5. Helene88 says:

    Kelly… I have known you for most of those thirteen years you spoke of. And yes, I’ve loved you for all of those minutes too :) And while I cannot imagine WHY you’d want to go back THERE, even though all of your family loves and wants you all back there, I think you need to take a cue from the WILD McCABE BUNCH.
    1. In 1990 I picked up and moved 3000 miles from home with a 2 and a 4 year old in tow. I knew NO ONE in California and cried for months. About six months later, you couldn’t get me back to New York on a BET. But that’s not the point, I took the “plunge” and did it. Okay, yes, John was at the beginning of an extremely promising career so we did have income. BUT we did it. Okay, you did the same thing thirteen years ago. And here’s where we no longer cross paths.
    2. After years of success and glory, the days came to an end and alas, Mr. Amgen himself couldn’t take it anymore. So not only did he leave the comfort of VERY stable employment, he wanted to move his family to a place that only he had heard of and start some crazy business venture. Being afraid of everything in the world that is financial, I was PETRIFIED, but I did it. My reasoning was that he made a fabulous life for us during all of those corporate years, I should at least let him dabble in his dreams for a while. I thought he’d get tired and go back to corporate life but no, I am now married to a man that actively SEEKS the Carhart label for his clothing. We are one step away from bankruptcy at all times (yes I live in a $1,000,000 plus home but own not one STICK of it!!!!) but am I ever sorry we made the move and took the plunge? NO NO NO NO NO! You see, I wasn’t the one who was miserable, it was John. But since he is a pretty integral part of my life, I went along with the “dream” …. luckily his dream turned into my dream too!!!! And I’ve NEVER seen him happier.

    How much longer can you put this “on hold”????? What is the absolute WORST that can happen? You have to live with your parents for a brief period of time? I know unemployment is rampant but I suspect that if someone TRULY wants to work (maybe not in their chosen profession or their “dream” job) they will find work.

    Conclusion: Sign the Intent and make every EFFORT to not sign that contract in May. And even if you DO sign the actual contract, make it your MANTRA that you will not be there when school starts again. Period. Say it every day, a gazillion times a day. I have a saying from you-know-where that is a KEEPER… Are you willing to go to ANY LENGTH to achieve….. The answer has to be an unequivocal YES or you will never get “un” stuck from this terminal dilemma.
    3. Words such as this from someone who has been telling you for YEARS not to move back? I think it’s a fete-a-compli or however you spell that and postponing it until all the stars are perfectly lined up or all is “just so” smacks of uncertainty and if you are indeed CERTAIN, then there really is nothing more to say! Unless you are still unsure whether you actually DO want to move back… if there is any lingering doubt about leaving California for good? Ignore all of the above and I’ll write something else!
    LOVE YOU BUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!

  6. trogdor says:

    First, you have lots of time to turn in that form, so DON’T sign it while you’re so emotional about it. Take your time. Second, I would check off A or C. If A, then you can stall your final decision while doing what you need to do to make your dreams happen. For example, you can plan with Greg what the finances would look like if you stayed home. We found that we save more when I’m at home than when I work, and with part time as the only option they’ve given you for next year, I mean, you have to ask yourself, “Is it really worth it?” But at the same time, you can also start searching/applying for jobs. Or you can check of C if you are still open to discussing the fact that you’d be happier working full time (if this is still the case). By marking A or C, you aren’t really setting anything in stone…as long as you give them a heads up in spring (i.e. before May), about what your TRUE intentions are. This way, you can remain professional and not burn any bridges. If you decide not to come back, you could tell them something reasonable and I’m sure they’d be fine because they’d have to be. Play it smart but play it professional. And don’t forget to mark the form only when you are less emotional about it and then turn it in on the VERY LAST DAY you can.

  7. Irene says:

    Well Kelly – no one has the answer to their own problems either. I know Greg and as much as I love him, I know he is too often content with a going no where job and getting him to move back here might well take a while. Therefore, sign up for now and then you can opt out later. At least it is income. You have gone thru this “I hate my job” many time. and if you haven’t moved back by summer, at least you have that time to do some serious exploration on your part. Naturally I want you to move back (and I see Helene doesn’t want you to because we, selfishly, want you where we are), but it comes down to where do YOU want to be? If you had a satisfying job there, would you stay? Is it whom you want to live near, or WHERE you want to live? OF COURSE, I want you here. I miss you and muffin terribly, but you need to be happy.

  8. ellenstohl4u says:

    Some doors are meant to be slammed because if you don’t get that door closed others will not open. Check B and walk away. You don’t have to know where you are going just move one step at a time, life will happen. You have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, and good friends. You Are also a smart, creative person. You will find work here or in NJ when you need to; even in these economic times. How much are you reallly bringing in part-time with Muffin in fulltime daycare? If you need to you could pick up something to help with the finances and you eat mac and cheese for awhile. Its so worth it to find work that fulfills you!
    I say go for it. Be an adventurer not a victim or circumstances. Its your life, live it!

  9. LeeAnn says:

    Well, well, well,you asked for comments and you got them. All of them are well thought out and sincere. As you know I sent you my response via email instead of this post because these people make much more sense than I do. Everyone’s comments are different but all have the same message – Your happiness (as well as your family) is what counts most! Love you tons and bunches!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I would consider a therapist. It is not a bad possibility.