Settling

Settling down. Settling in. Settling for less?

The academic lifestyle is nomadic. Start with a faraway college, proceed to graduate school across the country, hop over to a postdoc, hopefully land a job in big universityville. That might not be the end, as many academics change universities once or several times in a career. Even if one leaves the academic track, many of these steps are the same and cities with jobs are still limited.

I grew up with this kind of lifestyle and for a time I enjoyed moving around. I relished leaving for that faraway college. I got excited about going to graduate school across the country. And when all my friends were leaving graduate school it felt natural to move to a new town for a postdoc. But now something has changed. Or, rather, a lot of things have changed. I’m older. It is harder to make friends when you’re not in school. Not to mention I’m married with children.

And there is that feeling. That feeling of wanting to put down roots. Make friends for long-term that won’t soon be long-distance. To not feel temporary. Maybe this is not rational, but does it matter? I have one life to live, should I not enjoy it? And if for me that means putting down roots, is that so bad?

The problem is, I live in a city that does not have the most job options for a bio PhD. There are jobs, just fewer in number and variety than other locations. So in that sense it is not a good idea for me to stay here. But there are also reasons that it is a good idea to stay. It’s relatively affordable compared to those cities with more job options. My husband and I like it here for a variety of reasons and my husband is happy with his job.

However, for me it may mean settling for a less than ideal career. I may be giving up on opportunities that other locations have to offer. I may not be able to fulfill my potential.

Despite the implications for my career, I decided to stay. We bought a house. It feels good. It has been a hard decision to come to, but now that I’m here, it feels good. It feels really good. I like not having to think about where I might live next. I just hope that the direction my career takes doesn’t make me regret it.

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2 Responses to Settling

  1. CommunityMatters says:

    Thank you for sharing. I had/have a similar struggle. In college and early grad school, I embraced the nomadic lifestyle ahead of me. However, I realized how much being part of a community mattered to me as I was approaching the end of grad school a few years ago with no local job prospects in sight. I figured it out eventually, but it wasn’t easy. However, neither is leaving a community that you spent half a decade or more building.

    Like

  2. StrongerThanFiction says:

    I feel the same way about the roots and the living in different cities. That experience of moving around a bit was soooo good for me. It can widen anyone’s perspective living in another corner of the country. I wish more people would do it. But, I also hit that wall of feeling- I just want to stay. I want to put in roots. It is a good feeling.
    I am excited for you guys! There is a big world outside academia. Your set of skills will serve you very well no matter where you land.

    Like

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