Lately in all of my busyness around my job search, publishing efforts, teaching at Princeton and in general, not to mention my family responsibilities, I tend to naturally look at my decisions and how they may or may not have led to my current situation. One of underemployment, of being halfway through ’08 with no offers from agents, editors or employers (at least full-time ones, anyway), of realizing that the past decade of nonprofit management work has hardly helped me as a writer, professor or administrator.
Of course, this is a glass half-empty approach to seeing what’s gone awry in my life. Dwelling on the past, while useful in writing a book like Boy At The Window, can also leave a person or a society in constant search of a redemption that they’ve already earned or is freely theirs for the taking. An emotional rut is what obsessing on the “What ifs…” could lead each of us.
So I’ve decided to create a list of the lost and found in my life since leaving my insecure (financially-speaking) position with an international nonprofit off Dupont Circle in DC in February. I’m fairly sure the found on this list will be much longer than the lost
1. A job in which I was unhappy four and a half out of five days a week.
2. A career trajectory at an organization that had stagnated, in large part because they had either lied to me about steps for advancement or withheld information regarding promotions.
3. A position of financial insecurity in which I spent about two-thirds of my time in search for additional or new funding or creating products with the intent of raising the organization’s profile and drawing the attention of funders.
4. A job that would’ve either ended sometime this spring or turned into work on five or six unrelated projects and more time devoted to fundraising, the best case scenario.
1. Some peace knowing that I made the right decision for my life, my family and my career, even if it means some financial pain in the present.
2. How much I missed teaching regularly as a major part of my work.
3. The courage to keep fighting for my writing career, to keep seeking publication for Boy At The Window and other writings.
4. That despite some financial pain, that I’ve pretty much been able to help support myself and my family on the equivalent of what I might’ve made at my previous job without full-time work.
5. My bearings on what I want out of my life and some sense of how to get there.
6. That dwelling on past failings while working on fulfilling present dreams sacrifices both the past and the future.
7. My ability to lose weight while working out and watching my diet, minus my previous job.
8. More time to spend with my son and my students without looking over my shoulder to address work from my previous job.
9. That, if anything, I should’ve done this a long time ago.
10. My blog is a place that people look to every week for my story and for news about my manuscript, and much easier to maintain these days.
11. That sometimes it’s necessary to take a step or two back in order to move multiple steps forward.
12. That Obama is an inspiration for us all, even in the midst of Iraq and a recession.
See, I knew that I could see the glass as much more full than empty.