Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Big One

I've certainly mentioned this a few times (this is, after all, my life now), but here's the rest of the story.


A few months ago, I made a questionable decision.

It started with a semi-surprise job loss in 2010. Along with the usual anger and grief came a deep feeling of relief; this was a job that at the beginning had made me very happy, but by the end was something I nearly dreaded each day. There were a lot of reasons, but the bottom line was that when I was called into the HR office and informed that my position no longer existed, I knew not so deep down that they'd chosen the right person.

This didn't mean I was unaffected. What followed was a depression for which I hadn't totally prepared myself. I could pull myself out of it here and there, but the rejection was still at the back of my head and it took a lot of effort to get going again.

After a move back to Sioux Falls, I started trying to sort out my life again.

I spent the better part of two years trying to find the right place. School, a new engineering job -- a part of me really did want to get proper use out of my degree while the rest of me couldn't help but think, "But there's so much out there..."

In those two years, strange things kept happening.

I found myself in the right place at the right time over and over again.

I was never bored. I helped work cattle on the family ranch for a few weeks, worked in the kitchen here for a summer, and then fell into a job at an advertising firm.

I managed to visit my sister in a foreign country.

I worked enough to not go broke. In fact, I never missed a bill. Not for my car, insurance, or student loans. I even had enough to go do social things.

In the meantime, I was rejected repeatedly for jobs that I was certainly qualified for. This new rejection sucked but it helped me realize something: most of those jobs, most anything that "fit" my degree and my particular experience did not hold my interest. It seemed entirely likely that these places picked up on that -- and who would want to hire someone who was unenthused from the beginning?

Moreover, I found myself reevaluating. What was really important?

Was it what I did? Or was it more important that I found myself among people I liked and in a place I loved? Was it the money, or was it working for a company that I could get behind? I'd been down a less pleasant road where I had one or two of those things but not the ones that really mattered to me -- why on earth would I want to repeat that?

In the course of my two year sabbatical from real life, I found two things. The first was that I really could get by on very little. The second was that my efforts amounted to nothing if I didn't pay attention to the things right in front of me.

Which meant I shouldn't have been so surprised by what happened next.

A job opened at the camp I loved and I agonized for ... weeks, actually. It was mind-boggling to even consider applying. This would be a massive change. A big decision. One that I was downright scared to make.

I can say with all honesty that though I am a planner, I had never given this much thought to a single decision in my entire life. I'd flipped a coin to choose where to go to college. I'd made a pros-and-cons list when it came to post-college ventures, but that lasted about a day. This time, I had spent so much time playing over scenarios in my head that I had talked myself into and out of it at least three times before I said a word to my potential future boss. And I had no idea how to present the idea to my parents, whose opinion meant more to me than I wanted to admit.

But when six different people from six different places with six very different opinions suggested I apply -- five of those without any form of prompting -- I figured maybe I shouldn't ignore them all.

Have you ever interviewed with someone you'd known most of your adult life? It was strange. Even stranger because I had no idea if I was saying the "right" things -- I couldn't tell if my chances were better or worse after the interview, and unfortunately I could understand every hesitation someone would have in hiring me.

Now, remember that right place at the right time thing? As it happened, things fell into place. And so it is that several months later I find myself with people I love in a place I love, working for an organization I can support, and doing a job that -- as it turns out -- I really enjoy.

Even when it snows six inches and only half a group can make it -- even when a group shows up a week early and I'm scrambling for space -- even when there are multiple 12-14 hour days in a row -- I love my job. It's an adventure and it's just plain fun.

In fact, I'm pretty much annoyingly chipper about it.

It shouldn't be all that surprising, really. I mean, if you got to live in a place like this, wouldn't you enjoy it no matter what?


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