Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coping with disappointment

My boyfriend received his orders last Friday, just as we stepped off of our cruise ship in Long Beach, CA after a 4-day trip in Mexico. I wasn't prepared for the news when he strolled up and told me, so my first reaction was to not say a word - I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach.

"How do you feel about Alameda, CA?" he asked.

Alameda is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I have lived here my entire life. When people asked what my immediate goals were upon graduating from college, my answer was consistently, "Get out of California." The single reason I stayed behind was because I fell in love with Brian; otherwise I would be living somewhere along the East Coast, scraping for money but enjoying every minute of the struggle.

Instead, I've committed myself (yes, that's a double entendre) to three more years of hellish traffic, a hypercompetetive job market, and impossibly high housing prices. Three more years of Berkeley rage against The Man, and three more years of the job which I had every intention of quitting as soon as Brian's orders arrived.

So why not just find a job elsewhere and move? The first and obvious answer is that I'm reluctant to have a long-distance relationship after having spent over two years as a cutter girlfriend. The second and more important answer is that I have too many opportunities here at "home" to just ignore them and throw caution to the wind in favor of a "fun" job.

Specifically, I have free tuition. My father was a war hero and his benefits earned me four years of undergraduate education completely free. I have one year left until my benefits expire. To pretend that I'm not interested in pursuing a master's degree would be disingenuous - I have every intention of striving for more.

The overarching question has always been, striving for more of what? I already have a pretty successful job in journalism, albeit not the glamorous reporting one that I wanted. I make decent money, but I'm completely unfulfilled doing programming work in my current job.

I would love to write a novel but I'm realistic enough to know that my talent is far superseded by a large and aggressive national pool of 20-something writers, all pitching the same "difficult childhood" or "unexpected pregnancy" story lines. I have little to offer the writing world beyond a few anecdotes about being a starving journalist and military girlfriend. :P

To counteract my rapidly rising sense of panic and anxiety at being stuck in NorCal another 3 years, I've thrown myself into a job hunt. I registered for a LinkedIn account, browse CraigsList periodically, and pray fervently that a good Government Service job might open in my region for a Public Affairs liaison. To that end, I'm also in the process of applying to a particular program here at a good school for a master's in public affairs and administration. To save myself the embarrassment in case I'm not selected, I won't get any more specific than that. :)

If you've got a few prayers and well wishes saved up, I could certainly use them. I'm working on updating my résumé and soliciting letters of recommendation, then the rest is in God's hands. I really hope that there's a rhyme and reason to me being stuck here far longer than I ever wanted.


Just a Girl in a Port said...

I've said this before and I'll say it again. I know how you feel.

I hope that soon something reveals itself as the reason you are staying behind. Perhaps there is an untapped resource you've not utilized or better yet, perhaps you are about to be discovered by someone. I can't imagine anything less than amazing happening in your life. You have a magnetic personality, and I am confident that once things start happening for you the way you hope and envision that things will come at you faster and faster. Keep your eyes open and be optimistic. Things will turn around.

Peter A. Stinson said...

Flo, get that master's degree... asap...

Amber said...

Flo, I couldn't have put my feelings into words better than J. You are an amazing person, a captivating writer, and have such a bright future just ahead of you. I'll be praying for you. I hope you get into the school you are hoping for.

It will work out. It absolutely will. Prayers for a door to open right before your eyes.

Lainy said...

Oh Flo! Totally selfish response here, because I LOVE to read what you write...write a book! (Please!) Oh, and go get that master's. I am sure that wonderful things are just waiting for you and that the next 3 years will be eventful and rewarding.

Christina Cope Anderson said...

(taking a long sip from my wine) Darling, I feel for you. Remind yourself that Brian loves you for you-- your vibrance, your passion, your humor. Should you be unhappy- now or within the next three years- then that may impact your relationship. After being a cutter girlfriend for one year, I moved 500 miles away. I started my new career, scrapped by, missed him terribly, etc. But in the end, my Machiavellian approach worked. My career soared, his next rotation brought him to me, and we lived happily ever after. It was a big risk, yes, but oh so worth it in a cut throat 20 something career market where everyone's resumes has MS, Pro Bono, Publications, Speaking Engagements, and Skills after a laundry list of solid career choices. Diversify and remain happy, darling. My cell is on.