November 15, 2013

Choosing My Own Adventure

In May of 1997, I had to choose between staying in Syracuse - where I had friends, was dating, and worked in my favorite job ever - and moving to New York City for a career in either magazine publishing or the music industry. I often wonder what would've happened had I stayed in Syracuse. I'd probably be married by now.

A month later, I had to choose between starting my career as an underpaid, coffee-fetching assistant at Billboard Magazine or as a somewhat better-paid Girl Friday in the classical department of Atlantic Records. I chose music as my career path, forever putting writing and editing on the backburner, starting my glamorous stint in the music industry in perhaps the least popular genre of music, surrounded by people at least 10 years older than me. I didn't know then that I wasn't just a door or a floor away from working with the music I loved. I didn't know I'd spend the rest of my career on the outside, looking in.

I turned down at job at Tommy Boy in late 2001, after being laid off in a post-9/11 economy, because I didn't want to be undercompensated for doing a job (sales) I didn't really want to do.

In 2002, I let myself be fired from job at CMJ after only three weeks because I couldn't promise them I'd stay for the full six months of the short-term gig. I guess I could've said I would. But I would've been lying. And I wouldn't have been able to take my job at Razor & Tie a couple months later.

That was a job I did love for the majority of the time I was there, but in 2004, only two years in, I got a job offer from 4 Kids Entertainment. I could've had a lot of responsibility there, and a staff. I could've made a lot of money. But I turned it down when R&T matched the salary offer and satisfied my other demands.

In 2009, things turned sour and I quit that job without having another one lined up.

In 2010, I accepted a job offer to relocate me to Los Angeles, despite many red flags in the hiring process, despite the feeling that it wouldn't last, despite finally finding happiness once again in New York and feeling the most popular I'd ever felt. I was willing to commit two years of my life to my new bosses. They laid me off after three months, leaving me feeling stranded in a new town with a new car, an apartment lease, and a whole bunch of new furniture.

In 2011, I accepted a job offer I didn't want because I had nothing else lined up, and because it was an opportunity to work with good people who I trusted. In my defense, I had a concussion at the time. I came to my senses a year later and resigned, noting it was only ever supposed to be temporary.

No matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn around, because it's still the wrong road.

But, my problem is, I suppose, that I can't identify the right road. I'm trying to live my life with no regrets, to take every opportunity that comes my way, but sometimes you have to say no.

But through the lens of misty, watercolor memories, how do you know when it was right to say yes and when it was wrong to say no?

You can't possibly do everything. You have choices. It's not a matter of missing out. You can either sleep or wake, you can't do both at the same time. And sometimes when you're awake, you wish you were still in bed, and sometimes you go to bed early and don't sleep well at all, and think you should've just stayed up.

You can't have two jobs at the same time. You can't live on two coasts at the same time. You can't, in most Western cultures, marry two people at the same time.

You have to choose.

So how do you know which is better?

Sometimes, I suppose, when two roads diverge, they end up in the same place - eventually. But other times, the results (and the destinations) are dramatically different.

Do I actually regret any of the decisions I've made thus far? Not really. I think I did the right thing in all circumstances, though I can't help but wonder what might've been, had I stayed in Syracuse or New York, had I stayed in jobs that made me miserable, or had I accepted every offer, every invitation.

Perhaps the most puzzling, however, is not the choice between two opportunities, but the choice between one opportunity and nothing at all (or, from an optimist's point of view, the opportunity for opportunity). Do I refuse to date this one because someone better might come along? Or do I marry him because he's the only one to ask, and I've got nothing else going on?

These dilemmas haunt me, even when the opportunities aren't even there.

But do I have the luxury of focusing on getting what I deserve (or, at least, want), rather than getting what I can get?

Related Posts:
The Love I Deserve
Just Say No
The Power of No
Saying No to Saying Yes
Open Door Policy

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