Rarely in my life have I been attached to a place, yet I never used to think of myself as adventurous either. But, here I am, again, on the precipice of another professional move. I am chest deep in the river that is the SA Job Search and find myself looking at both shores, trying to calculate the right path to dry land. Behind me, the place I’ve come to know. It’s the current place where I’ve made some strong strides in my professional and personal life. In front of me, I see the entire landscape that is the field. All of the places that have the position(s) I desire. Yet, somewhere down this river the two lands meet at a dam: allowing me to stay in the state I’ve grown quite fond of and obtain a position that I WANT. To get there, I must blindly ride the current of this river and hope that it gets me there before someone else.
How’s that for an adventure?!
I’ve never been one to be good at staying in one place too long. I’ll never forget the day I left Wisconsin for grad school in California. My mother said to me, “I always knew you were the one that would leave.” She’s still right. There’s an adventure out there every year for me. I can’t sit in a place for too long; I need new experiences/challenges. Some would say that taking a vacation would suffice, but it’s more than that for me. It’s always been about making new friends, exploring the new area, living the adventure that is the unknown.
I’ve had the pleasure to go from Wisconsin to California to Illinois to small-town Washington to Spokane. Each move, people have mentioned to me how “crazy” or “impressive” it has been for me to just up-and-go to some place new. I’ve never thought much about it until now. One thought that has always kept me from freaking out has been that I was never really alone in my decision. When I went to grad school, there were many in the same boat as me coming from afar. The same thing went for my first professional job: I knew I wasn’t the only one in the trek. With my last and current positions, I was the only “new” staff member. However, I knew people at those institutions well enough prior to feel comfortable making that jump again. Although, I admit that the desire to leave “Unemployed Island” can take a person anywhere, if it’s strong enough.
Another question that never fails to come up is “what about your friends… don’t you miss them?” The answer to that is yes I miss them, but that’s what phones and social media are for. My quirk is, there’s only a handful of people from every place I’ve been that I would pick up the phone and call; a little because I’m just not fond of talking on the phone, but mostly because we only have so much time to make amazingly strong relationships with people and, thus, this field doesn’t allow us to be BFFs with everyone. It happens. Be happy for those you have and thankful for the opportunity you’ve had to bring them into your life.
Another thing about some of these friendships is that the other person is in a similar time-crunch boat as I am. It’s just as hard for them to keep in touch when we move away from each other. Yet, we both know that each other is there when need be. My best friend from high school, my interview buddy in Louisiana, a former co-RA, they’re vastly spread out, but never far from my mind. We have our lives to live, but when that rare time comes around and we have time to talk, it’s like we saw each other yesterday. I often consider those relationships rusted bridges (as opposed to burned bridges). In a nostalgic sense, the relationships are similar to real life bridges that are no longer the main flow of traffic. They sit there, waiting for the traffic to come, and then they fulfill their purpose. They’re strong, sturdy, and able to stand the test of time. When I visit them, they’ll still be there and we will still laugh, engage, and care. How can I worry about losing friends when I have my sturdy, rusted bridges that we built together?
Every adventure has its ups, downs, twists and turns. Without them, you can’t really call it an adventure. Some are attracted to adventure, others are happy with what they know. As long as you’re happy, that’s all that should matter. New experiences and relationships have made me happy and that is why I’ve never had any qualms with moving around. Yet, at some point, probably soon, I’m sure settling down will be what makes me happy, and when I do… oh the stories I will have to tell of my adventures around the SA landscape.
This post is part of our month-long series #SAmobile, a look at the stories of SA pros who picked up and moved for their career. This series is about the struggles, the successes, the hurdles, and the emotions involved in such a life changing decision. For more information, see the intro post by Juhi Bhatt. Check out other posts in this series too!