How did you know whether to take the leap?
January 12, 2022 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I am settled in my life here, but an opportunity presents. If you've been in this situation, how did you decide what to do?

I just graduated with a master's an allied health profession and am working in a school for kids with disabilities. It's been a challenging adjustment and the job is kind of a struggle. It's getting easier but I've seen a lot of things within the organization I don't like and have all but decided to leave at the end of the year. Out of the blue last month I got a call about an application I submitted months ago for a site run by the organization where I did one of my internships. I really enjoyed my internship and although it's not at the same site (inpatient psych vs a school) it sounds like a good opportunity and I have no idea what to do.

Some specifics:

It is an 11k salary increase. I'd be moving to a higher cost of living area but it's not THAT much higher. My biggest struggle at my new job has been the utter lack of support when it feels like I have no idea what I'm doing and it sounds like I'd be going into a really supportive environment. My supervisor will meet with me weekly to see if I need any help (unheard of at my current place) and everyone there I spoke to said she's really supportive without being overbearing or micromanaging. I like the structure of the job more (i.e. I would make my own schedule). It's a better facility with more help and resources from the sound of it. They offer more paid days off and will cover continuing education and the cost of going to conferences and stuff. Benefits look at LEAST equal to my current place and are likely better as well. I really enjoyed my internship through this organization and my current job has been SUCH a struggle. If it were local or even just in a state I'd take it in a heart beat. But....

It's not. It's about 6 hours away, which isn't terrible, but it is across states and feels so far. My whole life is here. I am the only daughter of two older parents, both of whom have their issues (but are healthy in all the big ways) and I would be leaving them behind. My friends are here. I have an apartment I love that's way under market value here. I will find another job--it may be a struggle for a while but eventually I will find a job if I stay here that is supportive and has me feeling more joyful and less burned out. This is my home. I am 28, not old, but I somehow feel too old to start over. Imagining leaving my family and friends makes me sad in a way that's hard to describe. I know I'm not gone forever but I would be going from having so much support around me to having no one.

And yet... I've also felt stagnant and restless, and at times I find myself wondering if this is really what I want for myself. It is such a big world and I have only ever lived in a small corner of it. I can find my people wherever I go. The past 3 years have been hard as hell and I've been wanting a change. Starting over is scary but when I did it before (I moved an hour away for grad school) it ended up being the best decision of my life. It is so scary to imagine starting over and the thought of leaving everyone I love here makes me want to cry. But when I first got the email to interview I could not stop smiling.

Thoughts on my specific situation are welcome, but I'm also interested in hearing from other people who faced a similar dilemma--how did you decide what to do and how did it turn out? I know I put this under "work and money" because obviously that's a huge factor but I'm also interested in the human side--did you find new people? Does it feel like home? Are you happy?

Thanks in advance.
posted by Amy93 to Work & Money (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like your current job sucks and you don't like it.

The offer sounds like a better fit for more money that is exciting to you.

You're still pretty young. If you take the job offer and end up miserably homesick you can always move back. Only one way to find out.
posted by slkinsey at 1:34 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

did you get a little thrill when you read the job description? then apply, look for apartments, and take it if offered and it seems like a good fit. you can do it all in reverse another time and go back "home" if you want to. i did. it's stressful when you're in the middle of it, but it could be so good and you won't know until you try.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:46 PM on January 12

Take it. Nothing stopping you from coming back. 12 months, 2 years, 5 years, whatever works. You should job-hop before then anyway, unless this is a union gig with full pension. It's totally normal for a person to need to do this to properly launch a new career, e.g. someone who just finished a masters. Take the opportunity. Stepping up into a better job / better environment / more pay is never the wrong choice.
posted by cape at 1:47 PM on January 12

Are you the sort of person who, if you don't take this job, will always wonder if you should have? If yes, take the job.

My experience is that you always regret not doing things much more than you regret doing them. Take the job - you can always move back if moving makes you miserable.
posted by dg at 1:48 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]

Flip a coin. Whatever you hope it'll land when it hits its apex is the right decision.
posted by dobbs at 2:07 PM on January 12

Life is meant to be lived. Better to take the leap than die wondering “what if” all the time.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:28 PM on January 12

There have been a few times in my life where I've just packed up and moved far away from everyone and everything I knew. I've never regretted it. Moving to a new place that's far outside of what you know really helps you grow and gives you experiences you would have never had otherwise.

Will it be tough sometimes? Absolutely. For a while you'll come home in the evenings to your new apartment and realize that there is no one to share your day with and you don't know where to go and meet new people and you'll get that hitch in your throat and want to get in the car and move back home that minute.

But a few weeks later, when you're exploring that bookstore that someone at work recommended and then going to the fancy grocery store that your boss shops at, and then hanging out in that park you saw on the drive home, you'll realize that you can indeed do this.

Who knows - you might move home in a year. Or maybe this new town is the place you call home for the rest of your life. Or it could be just a stepping stone and five years from now you're living in a place you've never even considered before. Either way, you'll regret not doing this much more than you'll regret doing it.
posted by ralan at 2:35 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]

You haven't even gotten a job offer yet it sounds like, so the cart isn't completely in front of the horse but they're like, running very parallel right now. There's zero downside to interviewing, even if you suspect you might not take it if offered.

As it happens though I'm in a very similar position--the Big Move is not definite, it's merely a thing that is Out There, being all potential and shit. And I am generally a person who is very much attached to my geographic location, being close to family, etc. etc. The last time I was away for a prolonged period of time I felt like I was going to die, and now I'm contemplating leaving for good? Or anyway, for a long time? Just like you say, it's often been hard to describe this kind of ambient, anticipatory homesickness. So there's a part of my brain that is saying "HEY. FREAK OUT. YOU SHOULD FREAK OUT! THIS IS THE SADDDESSSSST."

But weirdly enough, after 2 years of pandemic, I am just plain not that connected to my home city anymore. I don't have any favorite bars or restaurants left, I haven't seen any of my friends in ages except on social media, I don't even take the train or the bus anymore. Basically it's like I don't live here anyway. And so I just can't muster the freakout. After everything, what is one more change?

Now, maybe you aren't feeling that way about your hometown-in-COVID. Nonetheless, what it has made me realize is that there are all kinds of ways to end up in a place you don't care about, or to end up losing a place you love. Maybe it's better (maybe! no guarantees) to actively choose the loss, than to just have it...happen, one day.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:38 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I was offered the position and need to decide in roughly the next day or 2 (we said 24 hours on the phone but I'm sure they'd give me more time if needed). Sorry, that definitely wasn't clear, but the interview was a couple of weeks ago and I've already "met" all of my coworkers on zoom and gotten a virtual tour of the building and stuff (all great).

Thanks for the answers so far.
posted by Amy93 at 2:44 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

Go for it. Maybe I’m an outlier but I went to school a six hour drive from my father, and then lived near home for a year working jobs I hated before heading off to a grad program on the far side of the country (which I then left to move for a job even further away). My dad’s doing fine and I have a career I never would have had access to if I’d stuck with the crappy jobs I was finding near where I grew up.
posted by Alterscape at 3:16 PM on January 12

Honestly, to me it kind of just sounds like your current job sucks and your mind is understandably looking for a way to fall in love with a tangible escape pod that's being offered to you. But... you spoke about the non-job aspects of your life in your current city with a lot of fondness, and that can be rare, I dunno. If someone was asking you to house-sit their abandoned lighthouse in Morocco it would be like, yeah, you're probably not getting this chance again, but I have a feeling that if getting a better job in a neighboring state's city is the next step you want to take, you can absolutely replicate the opportunity without having to decide on the spot like this.
posted by dusty potato at 3:40 PM on January 12

Would you rather be looking for other jobs in your hometown from the position you're in now, or with an 11K bump in pay? You will undoubtedly have other opportunities present themselves to you down the road, but that increase will likely be reflected in every other move in your career. Good luck! Go for it, and come back if you want after a year or two.
posted by kate4914 at 4:02 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

I somehow feel too old to start over.

I was older than you when I entirely uprooted my life in Chicago to move with my then-boyfriend to California. I have struggled to find the same sense of having a "life" that I had before (in particular, I lived in Chicago for a long time pre-boyfriend and we got married in California so I went through a Thing of feeling like "I, sm1tten, am no more..."), but my career prospects are way better out here and at some point, it did start to feel like home.

Quite a few people I know have made the same move I did and then went back. You can always try it out and then go back if it doesn't work out or it doesn't suit you -- it does not mean failure, it means you have choices and can use the benefit of the additional experience to make different choices. That, in my opinion, is always a good thing.
posted by sm1tten at 4:06 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

In the vein of sharing of experiences.. I worked in a job for about two decades because the pay was good, my closest friends were there, and at least sometimes the projects were interesting. But I wasn't super fulfilled, and things at work were getting steadily weirder and the joy was all being sucked out. Still, I imagined riding this job at a slowly-failing software company right into the sunset for some crazy reason.

I finally started looking for other positions (about 3 years ago) and the dream job appeared (about 2.5 years ago, shortly before COVID). No move for me, but I did feel like I was leaving my friends behind (and not getting new in-person work friends, as the new job is 100% remote). However, once I made my decision, everyone in my life (well, maybe not some of $OLD_CO management) agreed it was well past time for me to move on from where I'd worked for so long. And the old work friends hang out on chat all the time, so that's also awesome.

All that to say .. I had internalized some values about being a dependable worker and breadwinner and staying in a job (possibly until retirement) and I was not open to alternatives. I wish I'd gotten past that much earlier, I might have had a much more varied & fulfilling work experience. And I hope that when this "dream job" loses its shine, in a year or 8, I move on gracefully to the next thing.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 7:03 PM on January 12

This is going to be rushed because I need to get to bed, but I work in an industry where people are expected to just be willing to upend their entire lives and move away from their support networks and their families and areas they know twice (once for grad school, once for the job) and it sucks. Some folks land places they love, but a lot of other folks end up in places they resent and do all they can to leave as often as possible. (It's going to be easier for you to bail if you take it and sucks, but I'm just saying). I think adventure is good for a person, but it's also good to honor our family and personal connections - because the job sure isn't going to take care of you at the end of the day.

You've moved away for a bit for grad school, and it was good, and now you're home, and that's good (except for the job), and you have this internet stranger's permission to say "good job, wrong place, and I want to value the rest of my life over my job." But! If you do that! You need to definitely look for a new job and figure out what you need to do to feel less stagnant and restless where you are, to find adventure at home (as much as any of us can right now, lolsob), and to spend all the time loving on your peoples and meeting new peoples and living your life to the utmost where you're at. Deal?
posted by joycehealy at 7:39 PM on January 12

I am your parents. Go.

Get out, see the world, find out who you are and where you belong. Meet new people, try new things, take some risks. Remember, most people’s regrets are things they didn’t do.

(I am, in fact, the older single mother of an only child, and this is what I would tell her, if she hadn’t already done this. Call when you can, but go!)
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:02 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't. I'd put a lot of energy into finding a better job in the place you love where you're surrounded by your friends and family.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:11 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

I moved away from my hometown twice, first when I was 25, then again when I was 34. (One caveat, the second move was in April 2020, so that has come with its own baggage) It was much more difficult the first time because I didn't like where I moved to. I say take the job and the new adventure, as long as you are familiar with where you are going to be moving to and like it. 6 hours isn't a bad drive home to visit friends and family. If you don't like it, you can always move back. I moved back once and will most likely move back again.

Some notes about moving in the middle of a pandemic... I've been in my new city since April 2020 and I have not made any real friends to speak of. I have a couple of bartender friends and am friendly with my massage therapist, but no one I would consider my "friend". I haven't even made work friends really because we worked at home at first, and we are still masking when we're not in our individual offices. I think the masks make people less apt to have friendly conversations with each other. I've gotten used to going out alone and making conversation with bartenders and other people at the bar. I even joined a softball team over the summer, but didn't make any friends there either. YMMV.

I highly recommend renting an airbnb for a month or so to really get acclimated with the area and find a good long-term rental while you are immersed in the new city. I inadvertently did that with my last move, and ended up buying a place one neighborhood over from the airbnb. I definitely would have benefited from having a short-term rental the first time I moved away from home so I could get to know the area I was moving to, instead of doing online research and choosing a neighborhood based on what sounded good online.
posted by DEiBnL13 at 9:45 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

I am a few years older than you, and also the only child of two older (and divorced) parents. I moved back home several years ago specifically to be closer to my parents and lucked out in that I got a job directly aligned with my interests back in my hometown. I have never regretted it, and although it has limited my career aspects in some regards (now I am dealing with a golden handcuffs problem), it's also made me much clearer about what is and isn't viable for my career because of my local roots. At this point, I've decided to make the career tradeoff to stay put (and I've found other ways to develop my working identity that aren't solely tied to my employer). At the same time, I'm glad I had several years away from home to sow my wild oats and develop an adult identity independent of where I grew up.

I think the key question is how close you are to your parents, how much the new job will allow travel and flexibility (especially important if their health suddenly takes a dip), and how much you rely on the presence of local friends to help anchor you. Our culture has very much normalized moving for a job, and staying put is often stigmatized. Only you can make the decision regarding what the right balance is for you, but sometimes it helps take the edge off a decision if you say "I'm going to stay put/take this new job for the next 1-2 years, and if it doesn't work out I'll do something else."
posted by mostly vowels at 7:47 PM on January 13

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