Friday, August 29, 2014

A Momentary Detour

For a few days this past week, I was presented with an opportunity back home, one that would have required (or allowed, depending on your perspective) me to return home for good much sooner than I had been expecting.

The story began earlier this year, in March or April. A thoughtful friend sent me a link to a job opening at a federal government agency. It was for an attorney position, and the duties involved were similar to what I was doing at my last position. He thought it was a great opportunity, especially given my previous experience, and wanted to let me know about it. At the time, I was not working full-time, and did not have any prospects of a full-time job. So I applied for this position, thinking that if I got this job for the 2014-2015 school year, I would accept it and return to the U.S. while my husband completed his contract with the school here. We would've had to be separated for 10 months, but we could've made it work.

Well, the months went by and I never heard from them, so I put it out of my mind. In the meantime, I was offered my current teaching job. We went home for a visit. Life went on. But, of course, life never happens as planned. A few weeks after I returned to Bangkok in July, just as I was preparing to start the school year, I received an email from the government agency with a request for an interview! After much discussion, my husband and I decided for me to go for it. After all, what harm was there to go through with the interview, right? (This is a big shift in my attitude and thinking. Two years ago, I wouldn't have gone through with the interview, having just started a new job. Now my thinking is, "Let's do it and see what happens.")

It was a huge pain in the butt to set up a transatlantic phone interview! We had to try a couple of times because my cell phone is an ancient dinosaur of a gadget and the connection was horrible. The interview finally took place one night at 10 p.m. my time. After waiting for the entire day for the interview, I was nervous, tired, and not in the mood. The interview went okay, but not particularly spectacularly. I was just glad to get it done and go to bed!

At the time, we decided that, if I were offered a position early enough in the school year, I could still consider accepting the job. The position was to start at the end of September. But again, weeks went by, and I heard nothing. I developed a routine and relationship with my students. We got to know each other, became comfortable with each other, and they came to depend on me.

Finally, after more than a month went by, I received a job offer this past week. Imagine the emotions that I felt seeing that email in my inbox first thing in the morning. I was happy that I received an offer, of course; it's always nice to have options. But now I was presented with a difficult decision that I was kind of hoping I wouldn't ever have to make. For one, I felt extremely crappy at the thought of abandoning my students so suddenly. Two, we have already made vacation plans for September and October, and I was really looking forward to those trips, as well as other trips later this year. On top of it all, a big part of me no longer felt like going home -- this year being our second year, things feel completely different; we're comfortable living here now, and we're enjoying our life with our jobs, friends, travels, and explorations.

On the other hand, if we go home after this school year, this job would've really allowed us to return to our former life back in the U.S. pretty seamlessly. My husband already has a guaranteed position back home, and I would've been able to return to the legal field with the U.S. government. The situation couldn't have been more ideal for a return to a safe and secure existence. So which do we choose -- adventure or security? And yes, the two are pretty much mutually exclusive. There is just no way for us to live the life we live now back in the U.S.

After discussing it at length, we decided for me to take another risk by asking about the possibility of postponing the start date. The email offer had stated that the "first available start dates" were in September, giving the impression that there may be other available start dates.

Alas, there was no possibility of postponing the start date, so I had to choose between accepting the job offer and starting by the end of September, or declining the offer. I was so torn. But my gut told me that it would be completely wrong of me to ditch my current job and students with such short notice. I also didn't really want to be separated from my family and take my son out of school just as he was happily getting settled, so I declined the offer, but only after holding onto my email response for about an hour before sending it.

Of course, a small part of me is now second-guessing my decision. What have I done? Did I really give up a good job that would allow me to get back into the legal field, after having been out of practice for a year, when many other lawyers that are more current in the field are looking for jobs? Will we be kicking ourselves for this decision if or when we return home? I've always been pretty fortunate when it comes to getting jobs, but I certainly don't want to push my luck. On the other hand, I am relieved and happy that I'm staying, that I didn't really have to screw anyone over with my decision, that I don't have to say goodbye to anyone just yet, and that I get to continue this adventure, which I'm feeling more reluctant to give up with each passing day.

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