A man comes in almost every night I work. He buys two packs of Virginia Slims Gold cigarettes, never asks for his receipt but always asks about me. A simple gesture of kindness with a more complex answer. He inquires about my plans for my future and how I’m making headway on them, or rather if I’m not. And I tell him. I tell this stranger about my ups and downs, my struggles and my decisions.
He came in the other day and asked about a recent job interview I had back in Philadelphia. A data content editor job, a fancy title given to those who look over the synopsis pop-ups that accompany the information button for a TV show. Being a lover of all things TV and film, I jumped at the chance to interview.
I flew from Arizona to Philadelphia just a day before the interview.
I stayed up late preparing, mock-interviewed with my dad and complied a pad-folio of resumes, questions and research.
I entered the interview confident and collected. I spoke with enthusiasm, made the right amount of eye contact and left with a skip in my step even though the blisters from my new heels cried out against it.
The thought of moving back to the place where I grew up with my friends just minutes away excited me. And after receiving the job offer, that thought grew into a real and likely possibility. Since I had moved to Arizona to live with my parents after graduation, I had only dreamed of moving. So, naturally, the prospect of getting away became my best friend in a place where I only had my parents and my dog.
It didn’t hit me until I looked at the economics of the job and the relocation. I would be dancing on a tight rope as thin as floss. No matter how monumental the move would mean to me, the dismal pay could not be ignored. I realized then that I was overlooking the job and focusing solely on the potential move. I thought long and hard with the employee-agreement and background check knocking on my door.
A couple of days after receiving the offer, I went to work at my part-time job.
Greeted by my regular and his regular purchase, he asked about my search. Usually, when exchanging pleasantries, I keep it brief not to reveal anything personal. But with this customer, telling him about the job, my excitement and my dismay served as a kind of therapy that I couldn’t get from my parents.
So when he asked, I told him. I told him about the job, the interview and the offer. He expressed his excitement for me and in return, I told him my decision. That, no matter how excited I got about moving back to a city I love and grew up with, I didn’t feel the same about the job. He listened and nodded when I rambled about how I realized that even though I want to get back to the East coast, I want a job I love even more. I want my future job to be the reason I’m excited about moving, and the job offered to me didn’t make me feel that way.
The next day I called and told the Hiring Manager that although I appreciated the offer and the opportunity, I couldn’t accept. Rather than move and work with just a few dollars in my pocket every month, I would stay and save my money and continue searching for a job I’m passionate about. Then, eventually down the line, I could move and live comfortably.
I felt like I let myself down for a little bit.
Saddened by the thought of giving up the chance to be with my friends again in a city on my own like I always dreamed of; however, I realized I made a grown-up decision. I looked at the logical realities rather than the ideals and made an informed decision. My parents were proud of me for making a hard but smart decision. In turn, I realized I was proud of me too.
The opportunity, the interview, the offer and everything in between and around have made me realize what I really want for my future. I don’t want to compromise my passions for anything, no matter how enticing the possibilities may be.