Yikes. I did it. This morning I put in my notice for quitting work in January, and I let the Philosophy department know I accepted the instructorship. (They needed to know this week on the instructorship, and I had my performance review this morning at work, so it seemed best to get the decision done so everyone can plan accordingly.)
So, as of early January, for the first time in 13 years I will not be a full-time employee. Scary.
However, I really needed this and am very excited about it. I will be assisting with a course here at MSU, and be a visiting professor up at Alma College, and will be part-time freelancing on the Philosophy Department website. So, it works out alright – at least for the school year. I did a ton of research on benefits and have several acceptable options that I don’t need to decide on for 3 months anyway. Financially during the school year, it works out nicely (even better than now between the 3 revenue streams). The summer is still a big question mark since I won’t have Alma teaching, but I am exploring many options – Fellowships, part-time work even back here in Radiology, back to freelance writing, etc. So our future is more tentative and less guaranteed, but, honestly, it was not 100% solid before this anyway.
I have already been laid off once, and with the department’s budget being cut year after year, there’s starting to be that air of maybe lay-offs might come in the next year or two. After all, when you hear everyone talk about cutting health care costs, top of the list are expensive tests – which is exactly what Radiology does. Every cut in health care spending, hits us first. But I’m ok with that. In the overall scheme of things, it does need fixing and I’d rather more money was focused on preventive care and the primary physicians than expensive specialists. But just realize that any cuts in spending mean someone somewhere is getting paid less, and it’s not necessarily rich doctors. (Just like “cutting government spending” means thousands of layoffs. They are just government layoffs rather than private company ones.)
But enough of that tangent. I am just realizing that everything isn’t rosy and guaranteed here either.
I also realized that this may be the biggest decision I have ever made. Most every other major change in my life hasn’t been a decision.
- Going to Alma originally rather than MSU – I didn’t even really have to think about it since Alma was such a nice fit.
- Choosing Philosophy as my degree and starting me on this path –I was just realizing that there was an academic field focused on what I was already thinking about.
- Going to MSU for grad school (first pass) – closest to family & friends, good school, only one to give me full funding.
- Leaving grad school – Kind of a combination of burnt out, wanting to focus on web design, and more lazy NOT doing something rather than making a conscious decision.
- Marrying Diana – No choice there. I couldn’t help my heart. Within a week of dating the only question was when we would get married not if. Same with the kids. It was just a foregone conclusion that we would have kids, and no other options were possible to our minds.
- Various jobs – Just took the good opportunities as they popped up, and every single time because a relative or former co-worker hooked me up.
So I believe this is the biggest actual decision I have ever made. Something that I researched and agonized over and lost sleep concerning. Something where life just didn’t automatically flow and I was only along for the ride. Teaching did line up nicely – getting both offers just a day apart, schedule meshing perfectly. But it still wasn’t a perfect guarantee. I was really worried that it would be irresponsible to make the jump with question marks still out there.
But I also have wondered about telling the kids to follow their dreams, when I have spent 13 years in a career I don’t like. Sure, I am being responsible in having an ok paycheck that covers the bills (most of the time), but what example was I setting? Ever since I started grad school, even way back, I dreamed about teaching at Alma, and here was this chance. Not only that, but here was the chance I have wanted for 13 years – to fully focus on school and teaching.
I don’t want to get too melodramatic here, but also there’s only so much time we have. As if I needed another reminder, I found out this week that the father of my best friend growing up passed away. The funeral was today. He was definitely a strong-spirited guy. He took chances (starting several businesses) and they paid off. Despite medical problems, he wasn’t afraid of what others thought of him, and you could always tell when he was in the room. Honestly, our personalities couldn’t be any more different, but at least back when I knew him years ago, it was clear he was living his life fully.
These past 13 years have been wonderful with my family, but much less so for the 40 (or more) hours a week I sat at a desk. Starting in January, I’m hoping to be happy at home AND work. Plus, I will have a lot more free time at home, which will be wonderful. But it is a big change – one that I have been waiting a long time for – and carries with it a whole host of scares and excitement.