I’ve recently been offered a huge opportunity. I currently have a very stable job at a great place working with great people. This opportunity is to work for a major studio, with a one year contract. Since I came out to L.A., my goal has been: GET IN A STUDIO.
That was two years ago, and in the two years that I’ve been here, I met my boyfriend, got a house and adopted two dogs. I began letting go of chasing my studio dream. I freelanced for a while and always applied to studio jobs, but never had much hope. Anyone that lives out in L.A. will tell you that if you want to get into a studio, and you don’t know someone or start out at an agency yourself, you don’t have much chance of ‘scaling that wall’. I don’t know anybody and I never worked at an agency. And honestly? I scaled the wall all on my own, which feels amazing.
My current job is at a wonderful place with wonderful people. In L.A., it’s hard to find people with substance that won’t stab you in the back to get ahead but this place … this place is like a Zen garden. It’s great for my family because it’s stable and routine-oriented—I’m home by 6:30pm every night. I’ve been running the gauntlet of emotions since I got this job offer, naturally; guilt, fright, anxiety-ridden, happiness, and excitement. I’ve asked everyone for advice and the advice is always the same: “Write down pros and cons and see what matters to you.”
I wrote down the pros and cons and looking at my list I realized that on that paper it was broken down to dreams vs. family. Do I throw the work/family stability away and risk my family to chase my career, or do I throw away my career to keep balance in my family? I feel …
… like women are faced with this decision way more often than men happen to be. The women I talked to understood my position, and they all said the same thing—that work/life balance is so important. All the men looked at me and said, “This is your career, this is the move you need to make to get you to your goal—why are you even questioning this?”
I’m not saying men don’t care about family, because, like women, generally, they do, but I think men are much better at compartmentalizing things than women and I know that’s a controversial thing to say. Sue me. But they are, a lot more often than women, say, able to remove that “What if” from their minds and focus on the goal.
In 72 hours I have felt like I wanted to jump for joy, scream from the rooftops, cry, have a panic attack, and run away. Many of them all at once, too. I have to make my decision and tell my amazing boss in 24 hours (there’s that nausea thing I mentioned). I’m not weighing the pros and cons of my career, I am weighing the pros and cons of my feelings. I feel guilty for leaving. I feel that I’m depended upon and I’m letting people down, and I feel obligated to stay. These are not the things I should be considering; I should be considering career path, salary, benefits, risk vs. reward not the fact that I’m going to be sad I won’t see my office mate every day.
Since I don’t want to have to make this decision, I used these feelings to procrastinate and began analyzing them. Am I feeling this way because I’m female? Do I inherently feel the need to look after people and therefore will sacrifice my dreams for their stability? My mother gave up everything for her family and that is my standard. That’s what I grew up seeing; women sacrifice so that the family can thrive. My mother is one of the strongest, toughest, bravest people I know–she is seriously, insanely bad ass, but she would always forgo her happiness to give me mine. I’ve always thought highly of my mother and her selflessness but deep down I thought, “I’ll never be like that,” because, to me, it cost her way too much. Now that I’m grown up, I realize I’m more like her than I care to admit. I’m not selfish; I’m not willing to risk everything for my own happiness.
I’m standing at a fork in the road one path leads me down the path of my Mother the other path leads me away from everything I knew and on a way to forge a path all my own. How terrifying is that? Dreams vs. Family …what matters more?