Walking the Talk

When I moved from Michigan to West Virginia I knew that I’d be taking a hit to my paycheck. They have different economies with different costs of living, and I’d be starting over with a new employer. (I was with my previous one for 11.5 years.) Since I knew I’d be sharing expenses and I had a cushion of savings, I still went for it.

It took me about 5 weeks to get settled: move, unpack, get all my paperwork and personal information updated, and take care of myself so I didn’t freak out while navigating huge change. I did some long distance job hunting before the move, but after I was settled I could dig into it much more deeply. I landed a temp job that paid $10 an hour less than I made previously and was over an hour away. But it was income, so I took it, and kept looking for something better. That’s when the Universe decided to see if I would put my money where my mouth is.

In the same way that a bad, or even just ill-fitting, romantic relationship helps you get very clear about your priorities, needs and wants in a partner; a bad or ill-fitting job lets you get crystal clear about what you are really looking for in an employer. I’ve had jobs where the work didn’t challenge me, the work wasn’t enough to fill my days, the coworkers were rude, and/or the culture clashed with my values. At this most recent temp job they struggle to keep me busy, some coworkers don’t understand professionalism and what constitutes a work-appropriate discussion, and the apathetic culture is hard for me to deal with. Plus the commute is hard on me, both paying for gas and spending all that time in the car.

Then, finally, 4 months later a prospect! I could be an administrative assistant for a department of a regional private university. It’s less than half the commute. It has great benefits including generous paid time off and tuition waiver (so, one class at a time, I could eventually get my degree). But the pay is low, lower even then the temp job.

I have said that pay wasn’t the most important thing about a job for me. It has to do with a good fit with the culture and feeling like I’m making a difference. And the Universe dished up a position that would be just the test for me to stick to those guns. And while my ego splutters pathetically about pay, the rest of me thinks it’s a great opportunity. Not only for the fringe benefits, but to be in a field that aligns with my values and to be part of a community where I can make new connections. So I went for it. I wrap up the temp job this week, have the next one off to take care of some personal business, then it’s yet another new chapter. It still feels scary and wobbly and risky. And I almost hope the pending application I have in for another job that pays twice doesn’t come to anything, because my conviction sea legs are tired. But we shall see what happens. I remain grateful for the opportunities that come and the intestinal fortitude to run with them!

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