Hard decisions.

Remember that phone interview I had?

I got the job.

And I accepted the job.

And then I declined the job.

Ugh. You guys. Life is so hard sometimes. I’ve cried every day since I accepted that job. I knew it wasn’t right and I still accepted it because it was a cool job. It would be a great experience. I would have great connections.

But you know what? I don’t really desire those things.

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I desire consistency and a constant schedule. I desire my calm, quiet, rewarding home life more than anything else in the world. I desire time with Matt. Time to read good books and to cook us dinner each night. If I don’t have those things, anxiety rears its ugly head…and it rears it hard. That job didn’t have those things, which left me in tears; unable to eat or sleep.

Part of me feels guilty for not taking this great “opportunity”. A chance to “advance my career”. More than anything I feel guilty for disappointing this world-renowned doctor and researcher, for telling her YES! and then telling her noooooo. It’s painful.

I find myself thinking about the future…about the kind of jobs I do want. That would make me happy. I see these women who are CEOs and badass executives. Women who start their own creative business with a baby on their hip. Women who fight for the right to equal pay, who want to be respected, feared professionals. They’re so cool and doing really important things……

But it’s just not for me.

And some of those women probably think less of me for truly desiring to never have my career in my top 5 list of most important things in my life. It’s just not how I’m wired. Some of you are probably thinking “Ummmmm why are you getting your MASTERS DEGREE then?” Great question. Because it’s a challenge. Because I think I can still be a great professional, even though when I leave work, I will. leave. work. As in none of it comes home with me. And I won’t sacrifice my home life for my job. I think that having a master’s degree opens up so. many. more. opportunities, and I’m counting on one of those falling into my criteria.

I’d love to be a professor. I’d love to set my own office hours, set my own class schedule. Decide when I grade and when I do not grade. Decide when I create curriculum and when I do not. It’s a goal. A dream.

But all of the other goals and dreams are so much more important, and that’s okay. Right?

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3 thoughts on “Hard decisions.

  1. You know what’s great? Maybe those women who you assume would look down on you, didn’t really have a choice. Maybe their upbringing was such that that was the only acceptable goal to attain – their parents or spouses or Ivy League mentors told them so, or their circumstances forced them to succeed, make more money to raise the family with whom they didn’t get to spend the time they wished to have the luxury of enjoying. The great thing is, you got to decide, and THAT is empowerment. Twenty or thirty years a slave to a corporation, bosses, a board of directors, stockholders, airline schedules, etc. That buys you financial security, maybe, but time is non-negotiable. You have x amount of it. And x may be next week. Being happy with your decisions in life lets you go in peace when it’s time to clock out for good.

    So good for you for having the courage to turn that down. Life gives us not only all that we can handle, but the intelligence and common sense for each of us to get to where we belong. Good for you for knowing where you feel you best belong, and having the courage in yourself to respect your path and say “I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.” Well done, Amanda.

      • It’s always a pleasure, very satisfied to know we’ve become good long distance pen pals of sort, forged initially with the sweat from those stadium runs in the Swamp. Knowing you is a treat, you’re a stronger woman than you sometimes give yourself credit for. You have my respect for this little moment in your life. What you did takes balls. Big f***ing grown-up, well-placed, wise, self-confident balls. With some big girl panties on them. Haha!

        I’ve put myself up against some challenges in life, so I can say it like it is and admire and respect you for knowing how tough that was. And you know that life goes on opening doors for you, even more so now as you learn and reaffirm that you have the right stuff, you can achieve what you want when you want. That case is closed, it’s law. You know you have it in you. You wanted this one real bad, and you got the reward of knowing you could have it if you needed it, and you were able to let it go for someone else who would own it better than you, and for the future which you know in your heart you want more than that path. It’s the same reason I left Gainesville, left Florida, left the U.S. – I just felt it was the right thing to do for me, for many reasons, even if others couldn’t make any sense of it. I had both my parents warning me or cautioning me that I might be making a mistake (my own, loving, want-the-best-for-me parents! You have to be strong to go against them in your adult years). I’d thought it out, and there would be no regrets. A comfortable existence on cruise control fucking scared me. And I needed to challenge myself to accomplish that which I wasn’t sure I could accomplish, while I had the energy to start over once, or twice, or three times more if necessary.

        Quick story time: Similar thing that happened to you happened to me before you knew me from GHF, back in late 2008 when the economy really tanked and I was working for a concrete company, when I quit and tried out for the Gainesville Fire Department. So I left a $40,000 a year job, to simply train for and try out for the fire department (which I assure you, was going to be a big pay cut if I got the job, or a 100% pay cut if I didn’t get the job.) I’m talking… I quit because I wouldn’t have time to try out for it if I’m working 11 hour days, I’m cashing out my 401k, and I don’t care if 700+ other guys are going for it, get in or die trying sort of burn-all-your-bridges moment. My old boss calls me up two weeks after I quit and offers me a better job than the one I had just left, more money, etc etc. And maybe had I stuck it out with them with that job offer through the miserable years that followed for that company, I might have saved myself from a lot of financial pain and relationship pain that would follow while you knew me at GHF. But at the moment, I told him no, fuck that. I’m doing this. I’m invested emotionally and you can’t dangle the carrot. I’ve already picked the carrot. Sometimes life sets you up for hard times so you can learn, adapt, overcome, reposition yourself, and enjoy the good times that will later follow. And we wouldn’t know each other if it wasn’t for this, so it’s rather a pertinent little short story.

        Some guys take years to pass all the tests for the fire department in one go. The fitness test is the big killer, usually. They hold this practice run exactly 45 days before the actual test, exactly the same so you can better prepare. Some guys are in such good shape, they pass the practice test and don’t even have to do the actual test a month and a half later. Not me…. noooooo…. I bombed it. I couldn’t even crawl my way to the last obstacle in the event, and that was going to be the one I knew would kill me, so I didn’t even get to taste exactly how hard it was going to be. And for about 5 minutes after I failed miserably at the practice test, and my body is in agony, and my lungs are burning, and I’m thinking that nothing I could do in 45 days could possibly make the necessary difference, well, I genuinely thought I was a bonafide idiot. Quitting your job to compete with 700+ guys who are bigger and stronger and probably better connected to people who can get them this job? The hell was I thinking? But I made a decision before walking out of that failed attempt, that I was not going to accept defeat, and I burned that bridge that leads back to “failure is an option”, and I tossed that thought into the water below it, so there was only one thing left to do. Sometimes burning the bridge is really the best motivator. There’s no Plan B, so it’s Plan A all the way!

        I spent the next 45 days working out like a mad man, buying everything I would need in terms of fitness equipment or organic foods or what have you. Weighted vests? Yep. Duffel bags and sandbags to replicate dragging a 170lb dummy victim? Yep. Spent a lot of money, didn’t care, nothing was as important for me right then. One goal, one acceptable outcome. I wanted this like you wanted that job. There was no telling me to stay cool, stay neutral, don’t get too wrapped up in this one thing. Nope. Get out of my way. 45 days later I go to the fitness test, and thankfully, I signed up for Day 1 of the 2 days they have fitness tests (there’s hundreds of guys who have to go through it), and I make it to the last event just fine. Well… my lungs are burning and all the lactic acid is really screaming in my body, and I had a hell of a struggle with the upper body by that point as I’m fighting with the weight on the last obstacle, and I was disqualified for stepping outside these lines they had marked while trying to complete the event because I was losing my balance trying to push this heavy ceiling panel upward. Disqualified. Fucking crushed, emotionally. Really crushed, and really pissed off at myself, too. You have no idea how hard I trained for this, and I didn’t want to deal with my lack of Plan B. I had basically replicated all the obstacles in my front yard just to make sure I could pass them all in the allotted time for the test. But because I had trained so hard (the transformation you can make in 45 days really is incredible), and even though this test leaves you a damn mess, I wasn’t going to give up without asking to come back for Day 2 and trying it once more. Pretty sure no one thought it possible. Maybe including myself. But I was going to lie to myself hard for a good 10 minutes on Day 2 and see what I was capable of. I come back the next day, summoned energy from I don’t know where, and I passed the fitness test. The test that kicked my ass 45 days earlier, as well as the day before, that me in my right mind thought I was out of my mind, I passed it. It was, without a doubt, the proudest moment of my life, and the feeling of victory and pride in myself was the sweetest, loudest, greatest emotion I’ve ever felt. I’ve completed Army Infantry training when I was 18. That was rough. This was better than that. And then I passed the remaining tests and got a chance to be one of the 25 or so people that interviewed for the positions.

        No one can ever take that away from me. I still talk about that in job interviews to this day given the chance, because that’s who I am. I will do everything in my power, sparing no expense or possible hurt feelings, to give it my absolute best shot, to reach the outcome I want. Ultimately, I wasn’t selected for a position, and it hurt for a bit, but it didn’t matter in the long run. I had what I needed, and what sticks with you is not whether you get the job, and then take the job and cram everyone’s doubt down their throat… it’s about getting yourself to the level where you can take it or walk away from it, and being proud of your decision. Just like you did. I knew I could, and having done that gave me the courage later in life to do other things, to jump when the gap seemed too far, and to trust that things happen as they’re meant to put you where you need to be at that moment.

        And that’s you as well right now. You pick your battles, looking forward and seeing where you want to place yourself in that battle, or avoid the battles you know you don’t need to fight. It’s wisdom. It’s faith. It’s a bit of both and some trust in yourself and those around you. It’s knowing the road will take you there because you trusted your gut. And I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you, nor is it the first time I’ve told you, but I’m proud of you. Maybe a lesser Amanda takes that job because why not, or she takes it because upsetting someone would be harder than upsetting yourself, and 5-10 years later you look back, as you’ve already thought out for yourself, and say, “why the hell did I take that job?” It might have cost you your Master’s degree, your relationship, your time with your family, put you on another path altogether. And if you know that what you have now is what you really want, then there’s no regrets. One day you’re going to have kids, and those kids will one day appreciate that they grew up to be civilized Southern ladies or men thanks to their Momma making the right decisions to be the best mom – not the best boss, or the best professor, or the best super career woman magna cum laude. It’s priceless, that.

        I’ve found myself at times in my travels staring at some distant house on a valley surrounded by mountains in the Azores, or perhaps on a secluded bit of coastline in the Canary Islands, thinking to myself, “those people in that tranquil little house probably don’t have a hurried care in the world, do they?” Happiness can take many forms, and it doesn’t have to follow the popular path.

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