Somewhere along the way, I made a promise to myself: no lateral moves. No moving from my job to a slightly-better-job. I want a salary, I want benefits, I want personal fulfillment. Does this make me sound entitled? Maybe, except I have a job that I like very much that does not have a salary or benefits (but is more personally fulfilling than I ever expected.)
So there is this other job, that was listed yesterday. It’s at an organization I used to work for, doing work I swore I was finished with, but it has a salary and benefits and personal fulfillment. I would be working in an office with a very good friend of mine and I would be doing good, important, meaningful work. It would be a lot of litigation, which isn’t something I have any experience with (and experience I probably need), and it would offer me a route back into the public interest job sector. It has reasonable, flexible hours, and reasonable expectations of it’s entry-level opportunities, so it seems like a no-brainer.
What doesn’t it have? An avenue for advancement. A guarantee that if I got and took this job, I would eventually end up back in public interest elder law (an area that just doesn’t hire enough.) A guarantee that if I got and took this job, I could eventually transition to a future in legislative advocacy work. A guarantee that if I got and took this job, I would be good at it. A guarantee that if I got and took this job, we would have everything we’ve been talking about for a year and therefore Everything Would Be Okay, like we’ve been talking about for a year.
I come down to wondering if I’m just scared. I’m scared, genuinely scared, to get a real job. I have always worked at jobs that were below my experience level, that didn’t pay, that offered rewards in their nonmonetary compensation. When I have been paid, it’s almost a token of appreciation, enough to pay gas and parking and maybe for groceries. I make money at this job now, but not a salary. And I wonder if there is a reason for that besides the crummy economy – if I’m letting The Fear hold me back. If they pay me a salary, they will expect me to show up and work hard, and while academically, I know I do not have a problem with hard work, I have always worked hard, and I will continue to do so, what if what if what if it isn’t good enough for the real world?
At the same time, I’m itching, as my friend C. said, to get out there, to lawyer, to put my name on my work and have it be mine and to own who I am and what I do and stand up and say, “I’m your lawyer, b*tches.” But on the other shoulder is the little scardy cat scales of justice telling me that if I continue to go for jobs that aren’t what I really want, I’m selling out for the money and the health insurance and in twenty years I’ll look back on my life and say, “well, how did I end up here?”