It is the holiday season and everyone is celebrating. Celebrating with parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. This year, though, I am celebrating Christmas with just my little family, my husband and our two boys. We chose this small celebration because flying across the country with a 3 year old and a 6 month old just didn’t sound like fun. Celebrating this way isn’t bad; it is cozy and comfortable. It is certainly less hectic than if we had more family around. But wouldn’t it be nice if family weren’t so far away?
There you have an example of one of the things I grapple with when trying to decide my (and let’s face it, my family’s) next step in life. What is most important to me? Is being close to family a priority? What about money? Job satisfaction? Work life balance? Commute? In my youth (i.e. grad school and earlier) I either thought these things weren’t important or had the grand delusion that they would all be possible to achieve in one job. As I now look around at the job options, I think I’ll be lucky to find a couple of those criteria in a job. That means I need to figure out my priorities.
This seems like it shouldn’t be that hard, but it is. I have difficulty knowing what job is going to give me the most satisfaction without having tried it out. I don’t want a long commute, but is it worth sacrificing commute time for money or job satisfaction? Knowing what I want becomes even more complicated as a new mother. Or rather, mother of a new baby. Even though this baby is my second, I find myself feeling many of the same feelings I felt with my first. Maybe this is “the fog” that fishprint described. These feelings went away somewhere in my first’s second year, but they’re back now that I have a little one again. I want a job that does not push my boundaries, that doesn’t challenge me. I think this comes from the emotional energy that new babies take. Once you’ve given all of that at home, it is hard to put in the focus at work for exciting, new, and difficult things. It is hard for me, at least. I know, though, that this feeling will not last forever. There will be a day when I will want to be challenged. But knowing is one thing and feeling is another, and it is difficult to set priorities contrary to what I feel.
So how to resolved this quandary? I don’t really know. Some days I think I’ve decided, but the next week I decide something different. I apply for jobs every now and again that seem like they’d be great. If I get really lucky and get one of these jobs, maybe that will be exciting enough to make the decision for me. In the more likely scenario that I don’t get a dream job straight out of a postdoc, I guess I will just have to make the best decision I can and hope it works out.