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I would love to write a novel but I'm realistic enough to know that my talent is far superseded by a large and aggressive national pool of 20-something writers, all pitching the same "difficult childhood" or "unexpected pregnancy" story lines.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.