A friend and classmate brought up an interesting point tonight. Some of us were talking about where we will be when The Hobbit movie comes out. We were all laughing about the places we could end up, and my friend said, “To be honest, I don’t know where I want to be.” For me, I know in which cities I would like to be; where I will be working is another question in and of itself, but I am trying to keep a very open mind. After all, this is a journey.
As most of you know, I am concentrating my search in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA. I am more casually searching for jobs in Seattle, WA and San Diego, CA. Why I’ve chosen to search in these places is a combination of several things.
For those that have been following my blog since I graduated from Western Washington University, you are aware that my transition into the working world was very, very difficult. I made a mistake in my decision-making process in that I assumed I knew what I valued and needed, and instead, I found myself in a down and depressing state. Although I realize that process and period in time was a major wake-up call, I also know there are some steps I could have taken to better guide myself to a better life.
I found a book called The Pathfinder, which contained readings and activities for articulating wants and needs in life. At this point in time, there are several factors I must consider in searching for my next job and city: (a) how far away from my mother I am willing to move; (b) in what kind of community I want to be located; (c) how many people do I know well enough to consider friends in those communities; (d) how easy it will be to connect with said friends; (e) commuting times; and (f) opportunities for activities outside of my career.
(a) I am an independent individual, so it is hard to admit that I want to stay within a direct flight of PDX or SEA so that I can easily make it to the Wenatchee Valley. I also do want to move somewhere that my mom can visit and enjoy.
(b) I am a young, single, twenty-something, and I thrive in big cities. Seattle and Madrid were good to me, and I want to be in a city where there are people my age, things to do, and lots of different neighborhoods with character.
(c) I need a network of friends. I have a hard time starting over from scratch, and this was also a hard point to admit. I talked it over with my counselor, and he helped me identify that. There is nothing wrong with not being able to pick up completely and make new networks. I do very well in environments where I have several good friends that introduce me to newly-friends that become newly-good-friends. That is how I handled Bellingham. That is also how I handled Seattle. To an extent, that is how I handled Europe. I want to say that I am independent enough to move on my own to Denver or Chicago or Boston, but at this point, my social networks aren’t there, and transitioning from school to the professional world (again) will be difficult enough. I need support; however, I desire a new-to-me city. That’s why Portland and LA are so high on my priority list.
(d) Will I be able to walk down the street to see friends? Hop on a bus or a train? Drive 30 minutes to the nearest city? Drive an hour? What’s the right balance here? (I’m leaning towards the ability to hop on public transit–and that’s why PDX is luring me in!)
(e) Same thing for work. I would love love love to be able to ride the bus or train into my job. I commuted for about a year, and while it wasn’t the worst thing ever, I would very much appreciate the chance to read on my way to work or savor my cup of coffee and not have to worry about parking. It’s a way to avoid stress. If public transit isn’t an option, I could handle commuting out of a big city to work about 20 minutes away.
(f) In my new city, will there be places for me to go out dancing? Will there be dance studios or places I can enroll in improv classes? How about shooting ranges? Hiking and parks? Mountain ranges nearby? As much as I love student affairs, I also love the arts and the outdoors. I love independent coffee shops and locally-centered restaurants. I need a community that isn’t made up of mostly chain restaurants and Wal-Marts.
These are all aspects that I have been challenged to think about. I am an aspiring jetsetter and world traveler, but it is also important for me to have a home base that I absolutely love. I want to return from a far-off land and flop down on my bed in a city that I call home. And after getting myself together, I want to call up a colleague or a friend and say, “Hey, let’s go grab a bite to eat at happy hour,” and not have to drive a terribly long distance.
While this means I am limited in the scope of where I search, it also means that I am being accountable to myself. This will allow me to be a model professional, someone who is focused on helping others. I prioritize this process now so that I may prioritize my duties at work in appropriate and caring ways.
Repeat after me, Ardith: “I commit to respecting who I am and how I grow so that this transition can be a positive experience for all involved.”