What's the opposite of Schadenfreude?
September 13, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

I'm excited about some really good news. It's an "embarrassment of riches" situation. I don't know whether I should tell everyone or just let them find out eventually. Also, I'd like to not come off as an asshole.

Husband & I lived in BigCity for 15 years. He quit his industry; planning to "retire" before 45. We bought land and built a house in the RuralTown. House is fully paid for (no mortgage = woot!) as are both our cars. We've been living there for two years so far. We built our modest house, planted a garden, raised chickens, and we were really having a great time of it! If I stopped right there, things would be pretty awesome.

His old boss called him about 10 months ago and offered him a job consulting. He'd be able to telecommute, and travel to BigCity about 1 week each month. (all expenses reimbursed) Our cost of living is so low that I joined him frequently. Four months ago they sent him to Europe for work, all expenses reimbursed. I went along too. We stayed an extra week, (on our own dime). It was awesome. He got sent to Europe again (this week), and again, we're staying an extra week, which we're paying for ourselves. This has been a sweet deal. He likes the work, we love the travel, and life's awesome.

His boss just offered him a promotion, and a full-time position (with corresponding raise), contingent on us moving back to BigCity. I'm fine with this, and pretty excited to go "back home" WIIFM? I'm self employed, and since moving to the RuralTown, I've had limited success. Before we left BigCity, I had a thriving career and was highly in demand. in BigCity, I won't HAVE to work, We have no kids to care for (conscious decision) so basically I can do whatever I want. Work, volunteer, or "just" be an executive's housewife. Husband's taking this job will be a big fat cherry ON TOP of icing on the cake, setting us up for an excellent retirement.

The final point of background is that an agreement has been made that this full-time job is only a 2-year contract, but his boss doesn't want upper management or clients to know this is temporary. We've agreed to keep it a secret.

The things that are bugging me are:

1) Most friends I've made in RuralTown aren't really more than acquaintances. The recession hit a lot harder in RuralTown than in BigCity. Would telling them we're moving back to BigCity because Husband got a sweet promotion create animosity? Should I just keep my mouth shut and disappear?

2) Should I bother to advertise my services and try and rebuild clientele knowing that I'll be moving away again in 2 yrs? (My skill is extremely portable and versatile) or should I just take a salary/hourly gig and keep my mouth shut about the predetermined end-date?

3) In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it, which is TOTALLY what it will look like, especially since I'm not allowed to tell anyone it's just for 2 years, and we're just doing it for the money!

1after9ohnine@gmail.com is a throwaway e-mail address.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total)
 
Would telling them we're moving back to BigCity because Husband got a sweet promotion create animosity?

You don't have to play it up. "Just wanted to let you know we're moving back to BigCity in October. My husband got a job there," is fine.

I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it

Really, if they're this judgmental, they're not friends. Anyway, "I liked it in RuralTown but this opportunity was too good for Bob to pass up."
posted by desjardins at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


1) Going into it with the attitude of, "This is so fantastic I'm afraid you'll feel jealous or bad about your own situation" is actually something you want to worry about more. Many of your neighbors don't view moving from SmallTown to BigCity as a "step up."
posted by availablelight at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


[few comments removed - if that's the best you can do, we don't need your help, thanks,]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:34 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


What?
I don't understand why you're afraid of making people jealous because you're moving to a city ? Most people I know who live in rural areas live there because they don't WANT to live in the city or deal with the high stress of the jobs and people associated with it.

Also, I move all the time. I don't go into to detail of why unless I'm speaking to a family member or close friend.

Conversation should go like this:

"Hey, I'm moving. Let's keep in touch."
"oh, why are you moving?"
"My husband got a job offer in BigCity"
"Oh, that's cool."

The end.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:37 AM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


You don't want people to think you "can't hack it," you don't want people to feel too envious, you don't want people to think you're an asshole. Look, try to stop worrying so much about what other people think of you--it's an exhausting way to live. You've had some good fortune! Don't over-think it, enjoy it! If people ask about your situation, tell them the truth in simple terms but do not proceed uninvited into all of these details, because 1) doing so may easily come off as self-absorbed and falsely modest, and 2) it'll bore people because, 95% of the time, no one cares.
posted by applemeat at 8:43 AM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Having lived in RuralTown, ON, I can say that desjardins' approach is best: "hey, SO got offered a job in BigCity". My guess is their reaction will range from "that's great! Good for you" to "hey, can I send you my unemployed SO's CV?"

Is your skill set something that can be done via computer/internet? If so, why not build a clientele? Especially if it's something you love doing.

As for your third question, I'm not sure I agree that your friends in BigCity will think you couldn't hack country life. Why would they think that, especially if you're moving back to the city 'cause hubby got offered a sweetheart deal? If you're concerned, why not make plans to "vacation" in RuralTown at some point? If they see you keen to go back, they'll understand that you not only could hack it, but you loved it.
posted by LN at 8:45 AM on September 13, 2010


If they're real friends, they're going to be thrilled that you are having such good times. There may be a bit of envy, but everyone feels envy about any number of things ("Man, I wish I had that awesome homemade sandwich my co-worker has for lunch!"), so I wouldn't sweat it too much.
posted by xingcat at 8:46 AM on September 13, 2010


I was going to say all these things about your question but this:

You don't have to play it up. "Just wanted to let you know we're moving back to BigCity in October. My husband got a job there," is fine.

and this:

Going into it with the attitude of, "This is so fantastic I'm afraid you'll feel jealous or bad about your own situation" is actually something you want to worry about more.

and this:

Most people I know who live in rural areas live there because they don't WANT to live in the city

say it better. I think you're afraid of something that probably won't be an issue. I read the whole thing and I kept waiting for the "Oh wow, what an amazing thing!" thing, and...I never got it. Not that what's happening to you isn't nice - it is, and good for you. But not everyone wants what you want, and not everyone will be jealous, and most people really don't think about you that much. (Not you you, just you in general.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:48 AM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think you need to learn to keep all the emotions, drama and detail out of your conversations with people that you are not close with. People generally don't think much about things being bad or odd or awkward unless you give them that impression. "We are moving to X because my husband got a new job there," is very neutral, I don't see how it would upset anyone. I guess if you roll your eyes and laugh nervously you might make people wonder a bit, so watch your body language and mannerisms. And learn to change the topic in smooth ways, that is helpful too.
posted by meepmeow at 8:53 AM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Would telling them we're moving back to BigCity because Husband got a sweet promotion create animosity?

As someone who has planted myself in RuralTown as an adult and grew up in one as a kid but spent some intervening years in BigCity, I've found that the things that bring you status in RuralTown aren't really the same things that bring you status in BigCity.

So, while I agree with other people that just sticking to the facts and not the "It's so great I don't have to WORK" aspects are probably wise, by leaving you are actually passing up the opportunity to gain status in the town through longevity, community involvement and long term human connections such as rasing a family and whatever. So, while you see this move as this mostly-unqualified brag, that's through your own lens. While people who have manners will be happy for you, I wouldn't see this as some sort of embarassing unqualified good when seen through the eyes of others. Which is as it should be really. You have the life you want, the people in the town probably have the lives they want.

Assuming they're going to be in some way jealous or resentful of your good fortune I think is missing the fact that many of them are probably happy as clams in RuralTown and while it didn't totally work for you [really, it didn't; if it did, you wouldn't be leaving] it may be working quite well for them, bumpy economics be damned. The less you turn this move into a drama-factory, the less it becomes one. Congrats on the good news.
posted by jessamyn at 8:55 AM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


3) In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it, which is TOTALLY what it will look like, especially since I'm not allowed to tell anyone it's just for 2 years, and we're just doing it for the money!

How do you know what other people will think? I'd look to yourself as the source of this idea.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:07 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know you at all, and I'm happy for you! I don't think people will be as jealous as you fear they may be. I'm recently unemployed and sort of scraping to get by right now, but your story doesn't color my story; I can see around it and be happy for you.

I just can't see them attaching resentment to this news -- it's good news! Be concise in your account of what you're doing (as others are saying), and smile when you say it. If you frame it as good news, it'll most likely be received as good news.
posted by heyho at 9:27 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


i agree with a lot of ppl here: you are making a far bigger deal about this than anyone else you tell this news to would (and like DestinationUnknown i too was waiting for some actual big news like you won a gazillion dollars, not just that your husband got a job)—which seems to speak more about you and your presumptions than any that might arise from others whom you would tell. as others stated above, a simple, "my husband got a great opportunity in bigcity!" will suffice. i really doubt everyone in your ruraltown would resent you for that, as you seem to believe they would.
posted by violetk at 9:34 AM on September 13, 2010


On #1 - I would just tell friends/neighbors that your husband was offered his 'dream job' in BigCity. From your friends' perspetive, that doesn't necessarily mean that he's making more money (and you don't look like you're bragging).
On #2 -- If you have a skill that is "portable" I would definitely rebuild and reconnect with your current clientele. You may also want to partner with someone so that when you move back to RuralTown, you can still manage your business, but you would have a local partner in BigCity.
On #3 - Wouldn't worry what they think. They should be happy to have you back! :-)
posted by Kerry-in-Atlanta at 9:39 AM on September 13, 2010


Would telling them we're moving back to BigCity because Husband got a sweet promotion create animosity?

No. Most people aren't that petty and jealous. Really. (You can say you think it's a good deal without going on and on and on about how sweet it is. It's the latter that gets on people's nerves. You can be honest without bragging.)

Should I bother to advertise my services and try and rebuild clientele knowing that I'll be moving away again in 2 yrs?

If you enjoy the work, sure. Can you explain, when you actually need to, that you might not be staying in BigCity long term, without giving away that your husband's position has a pre-determined end date- you'd like to move back to RuralTown, you'd like to retire early?

In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it.

Do you care that much? You can say that you moved back because of your husband's job offer without mentioning that it's temporary. You can talk about things you miss about RuralTown; it will be less surprising when you move back.
posted by nangar at 9:43 AM on September 13, 2010


Agreed with everyone about the fact that nobody cares that much and it's all in your head. I don't even understand why it was necessary to give us all the details of your life, mortgage, and retirement-- if you found all this to be pertinent information, and wish to talk about it in similar detail in real life with acquaintances, then it's a concern. But really, just say you're moving back to the city because your SO got a good opportunity there. THE END. Don't rub in how comfortable and happy you are to travel and all that, especially if people are not in a similar financial position. Also, I can't imagine anyone thinking a move back to the city will mean you can't hack it in rural town. Just say your SO wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Also, what's wrong with saying you also loved the city and wanted to come back, but have plans on returning to rural town, especially for retirement because you loved it as well?
posted by lacedcoffee at 9:43 AM on September 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think the reason you are concerned with the perception that you're bailing on the country life for (from the country friends' perspective) the unattainable-to-the-rural big bucks or alternately because (from the city friends' perspective) because you couldn't hack it is because on some level you believe or suspect it is actually true. What your story sounds like to me is that you were managing just fine in the country, didn't need a bunch more money, but found out that you liked getting pieces of your old lifestyle back - travel, trips to the city. You sound excited about moving back to the city.

Why not accept the situation as open ended and yourself as undecided? If you were really 100% sold on the country life you wouldn't be doing this. Meanwhile, as long as you're not hurting anyone you don't need to justify doing what feels right. Finally, if you are really 100% serious about going back to the country after 2 years with your expanded war chest, you keep a close eye on that goal, because I guarantee one of the reasons your husband's boss is asking him to keep mum is to give him to years to try to recruit him back into the fold for the long term.
posted by nanojath at 10:03 AM on September 13, 2010


Blessings to you for your good fortune. I think the recipe here is to be humble, grateful, discreet, and generous. In that order.
posted by cross_impact at 10:08 AM on September 13, 2010


3) In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it, which is TOTALLY what it will look like, especially since I'm not allowed to tell anyone it's just for 2 years, and we're just doing it for the money!

I have no idea why someone would think that. Mostly, people move back to the big city because big cities have a lot to offer in terms of life. I might guess that you weren't great as a farmer or something, but if your occupation is something that people do in the city and country typically the big city version is more competitive and more prestigious.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:20 AM on September 13, 2010


Speaking here as somebody who a few years ago fled BigCity for RuralTown: your neighbours do not care, and your neighbours also expect this.

There is a difference between the established RuralTowners and the recent arrivals in RuralTowns. The new folks do not have roots. If my neighbour up and moves to the city because of a promotion -- well, that's fine; she'll still be back for Christmas because her family is here, also for the fair, also for...and then she'll retire here anyway; she's not really "gone." Me, on the other hand? I have no family here, nothing to draw me back. I'd be forgotten about the next day.

It takes a long time to build one's connexion to RuralTown. If you paid so little attention to your neighbours that you think they care about a promotion and would be envious of a move to BigCity -- I don't think you need to worry about them worrying about you one way or another. That your commitment to RuralTown = 0 has undoubtedly been obvious; it doesn't sound like anybody will be scrambling to replace you in the community choir or the friends of the park association, y'know?
posted by kmennie at 10:40 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you're overly concerned with how other's perceive you. Don't worry about it so much. So long as you are gracious, humble and polite, people will feel good for you about your good fortune and get on with their lives.

1) Most friends I've made in RuralTown aren't really more than acquaintances. The recession hit a lot harder in RuralTown than in BigCity. Would telling them we're moving back to BigCity because Husband got a sweet promotion create animosity? Should I just keep my mouth shut and disappear?

Tell them if you want, but leave out the 'sweet' in sweet promotion.

2) Should I bother to advertise my services and try and rebuild clientele knowing that I'll be moving away again in 2 yrs? (My skill is extremely portable and versatile) or should I just take a salary/hourly gig and keep my mouth shut about the predetermined end-date?

Its up to you. Do you want to work? You're lucky to have that privilege.

3) In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it, which is TOTALLY what it will look like, especially since I'm not allowed to tell anyone it's just for 2 years, and we're just doing it for the money!

I don't know why you think people would think this. People move for all sorts of reasons.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2010


Without knowing exactly what you do, it's hard for me to be certain, but I think that a lot of work has gotten location-neutral in recent years. Try to do the "independent contractor" thing, and see if you can do it all out of a remote home office. So, you can keep your customers almost no matter where you go.

And, as far as what other people think, all I can say is that you've taken the big first step of understanding how fortunate you are. Remember to be humble about it. If you're well-grounded, most people won't harsh on you about it.
posted by Citrus at 11:32 AM on September 13, 2010


It would be great if you could just quit caring what other people think! I'd love to be able to do that all at once. But advising someone to get over it is like telling an insomniac that they just need to get some sleep and they'll be okay. The key for me when I worry about other people's opinions: be ready for the predictable issues, and develop a formula you can use for unexpected anxiety-provoking moments. What I try to do is pause, even though I really want to answer quickly. I keep my face relaxed, or I smile to suggest I understand what's just been said. An often I turn the comment back to the other person: "It sounds like you enjoy your work." "Living in a rural area is challenging, isn't it?" And it's always a good idea to express that you feel good about what you're doing or planning. If they don't wish you well after that, they've got a problem that has nothing to do with you.

There's really no need to mention money or even a promotion. Aquaintances just want to know generally why you're going, and maybe how you feel about it. Or maybe they're just trying to keep the conversation going. So just say you're moving because of Mr. Anonymous's work, that it's a good opportunity, and perhaps that you hope to return when the time is right.

As for the friends who'll think you couldn't handle country life -- they're not friends. Friends are people who wish you well and support your major life decisions. Anyone who's less positive than that can be told that you want to go back to rural living sometime in the future. Tell 'em you're looking forward to it, and most will wish you luck.

Why tell prospective employers about the 2-year "time limit"? Who knows what will happen during that time period. You can't be sure now about what'll be right for you 24 months from now.

As for what you do while in the city: If you want to develop your business there, do; if you would like to keep regular hours with moderate responsibility, find hourly work. Or don't work at all, and do something you've been wishing you could try. This last one might give you some awkward moments with people who think you "should" be working -- you may want to be ready with a smile and a stock comment.
posted by wryly at 11:35 AM on September 13, 2010


I don't think people around you care as much (or give a hsit, really) about your situation like you think they do. You just aren't really that important. But anyhow:

1) Most friends I've made in RuralTown aren't really more than acquaintances. The recession hit a lot harder in RuralTown than in BigCity. Would telling them we're moving back to BigCity because Husband got a sweet promotion create animosity? Should I just keep my mouth shut and disappear?

Well if you plan on keeping in touch with these new friends then you should tell them that you're moving. If they ask why just say because your husband got a job in the city. If you talk about his "sweet promotion" it won't cause animosity, but you should make sure you are aware of your tone addressing the whole situation because honestly you come off a bit self-important. Most people will be happy for you as long as you aren't rubbing it in their faces that your life is so sweet, man!

2) Should I bother to advertise my services and try and rebuild clientele knowing that I'll be moving away again in 2 yrs? (My skill is extremely portable and versatile) or should I just take a salary/hourly gig and keep my mouth shut about the predetermined end-date?

Well, can you work with new clients remotely after the move? Do you even want to work? The moving in 2 years is a red herring. You don't even know if you'll stay in big city for the 2 years or that you'll leave for certain if you do stay 2 years. shit happens, plans change. Do what you want to do now as far as your work.

3) In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it, which is TOTALLY what it will look like, especially since I'm not allowed to tell anyone it's just for 2 years, and we're just doing it for the money!

It will TOTALLY not matter to people as much as you think it will. Get out of your own head and realize that noone cares. If your circle of friends really does care that much and is that judgy about silly stuf like this, get new friends. What's wrong with doing something for the money? You need money to live... You just tell them that your husband found a job he really wanted to work and it required that you move back. Not a big deal, stop making it one.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:35 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you put it exactly the way you did here to all your "RuralTown acquaintances," then yes, you will probably come off as a jerk who thinks you're so much better than they are.

But if you just tell them that you're leaving because your husband got a great job opportunity wherever you're moving, their reaction will likely only be something like, "Oh, that's nice." If you move back in two years, just tell them then that it was only temporary. Their reaction will again most likely be, "Oh, that's nice." Like you said, these people are only acquaintances, not close friends, so there's no need to tell them anything more than that. Frankly, it sounds like you want to talk about it way more than they would want to hear about it.
posted by wondermouse at 1:45 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Don't be so sure about anything being for "just" two years. Man makes plans, and metropolitan areas laugh.
posted by anildash at 2:12 PM on September 13, 2010


Frankly, it sounds like you want to talk about it way more than they would want to hear about it.

this was absolutely my impression too, given you gave us all kinds of look-how-wonderful-my-life-is! backstory for a question that really didn't need any. in fact, i think maybe you even came onto askme in order to brag to all of us anonymous strangers about your "embarrassment of riches" so that you wouldn't come off as a jerk to your friends and ruraltown neighbors by doing it to them.
posted by violetk at 2:23 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


In general, I don't want friends in BigCity to think I've given up on RuralTown because I couldn't hack it, which is TOTALLY what it will look like, especially since I'm not allowed to tell anyone it's just for 2 years, and we're just doing it for the money!

I find this an odd statement. Somehow you don't want people to be jealous of you, but at the same time, you don't want people to think you're having hard times, either, because that would be beneath you. Am I reading this right?

You sound extremely image conscious. I would think in your travels or your alternative lifestyle, you would have gained some insight on this aspect of yourself, and perhaps some perspective on the world, but it does not seem like you have.

Perhaps these "riches" haven't given as much as you think?

Food for thought.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:07 PM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


People don't care about you as much as you think they do, so don't worry about what they think of you so much, worry more about what you can do that will be considerate of their feelings and generally polite.

1. Disappearring is rude and doing it to save other people's feelings is misguided. If you have to move back or get in touch with them later you'll feel really awkward and they'll be like WTF? Tell them work takes you elsewhere. This is true. Offer to let a few people whom you'd like to know better to come and stay with you in the Big City for a weekend. It's a really fun way to hang with people.

2. Do whatever makes you happy. If getting clientele makes you happy, do it. If salary job makes you happy, do it. If you genuinely do want to volunteer, do it. Two years is long enough for a commitment for most, if not all, jobs.

3. No, they won't think you can't hack it unless they're really rude or negative or catty (in which case, fuck 'em). Just say you're excited to move back for your husband's job and excited to get back in the swing of things, and that you've always like Big City more. Everyone knows that opportunities in rural areas aren't as plentiful and so I'm sure they don't expect you to have suddenly become the Martha Stewart of rural Indiana or whatever.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:22 PM on September 13, 2010


Also, yeah, you kinda ooze black-and-white winner-or-loser thinking, which will make it hard for you to talk about this in a pleasant way, so maybe less is more.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2010


I've been thinking about this, and I think it's something The _____ of Justice touched on. But it sounds like the real problem is that, despite all your good fortune, you don't really have any close friends. It sounds to me like you've spent all this time building a life for yourself and your husband while everyone else just sort of irrelevantly exists around you.

This is not meant to be a dig at all. If you're really concerned about this, putting some effort into reaching out and developing true friendships with even just a couple of the people you live near would probably make you feel a lot more at ease. Rather than feeling anxious when you have a positive development in your life, you'd be excited to tell them about it, and they would be happy for you.

You lived in this rural town for two years and didn't form any relationships beyond the acquaintance level. It might be worthwhile to look into why that might be, instead of wondering how not to make everyone jealous that, long story short, your husband makes a lot of money.
posted by wondermouse at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Knowing your location would be helpful, culturally. I think a lot of us are from suburban/metropolitan areas on either the right or left coast of the US and don't realize the variations in how this sort of thing can be perceived. Jessamyn's right, status works differently in small towns. "Givens" are not the same.

I agree that you should be careful not to overshare the details about your financial cushion. Even if you talked about how great it was to retire comfortably, no-one can quibble with "my husband got a great job." Anyone who asks about your career, well, you've already got a true story -- your skills are portable, and more in demand in BigCity.

It's possible that some people might take this as a sort of rejection of the non-urban lifestyle, but those people probably already figured that you wouldn't be permanent residents of Ruraltown. But you can say something (true!) like "my heart is really here in Ruraltown, but we just don't feel like we can pass up this opportunity. But I really, really hope things work out so that we can retire in Ruraltown, because I really love my home here."
posted by desuetude at 10:18 PM on September 13, 2010


« Older Is your spider sense tingling?   |   Every inside joke should be wrapped in fondant for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.