Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let Me Down

I live in a constant struggle between doing what will make me happy and doing what will let the fewest people down.

Today that conflict is swimming around in my head.

As mentioned before, I am at a crossroads.  After this holiday weekend, I am going back down to LA for a four-week unpaid vacation ("personal leave") in hopes of a more successful job hunt as a local.  This is the bit that will make me happy.

I feel the excitement of a schoolgirl during the last week of classes before summer break! I get to live with the boyfriend for a month, which I haven't gotten to do for a significant length of time since his winter break, and before that, last summer. Nevertheless, long distance has not degraded our relationship too much -- we see each other almost every weekend and talk every day; he is my best friend. I also get to visit several friends I left behind after graduating college. Beyond that, I have planned a daily schedule for while he is at work, to include three hours of job applications, a mid-day break for lunch, tanning, and exercise, and three hours of skill development (Actionscript/Flash, web technologies, and spiffing up my website -- I'll post a link when it's more something to be proud of). If I am awesome enough to overcome the 12% unemployment in LA, I will finish the four weeks with a new job to replace my current one, which I am not crazy about. 

Sounds like a good deal, right? So why do I feel uneasy about it?

When I first started casually searching for jobs a few months ago, I felt guilty about the prospect of abandoning my team before the customer demo.  Well today was our last team meeting before the demo, when we all get split up to do other things because our project is being shelved indefinitely (until Customers show interest and sign a contract to give us more funding) -- hence the perfect timing for my four-week leave, approved by the supervisor lining up my next project upon my return.

I'm not abandoning my team, so what's the problem?

Also for the last few months, I have been putting off submitting my paperwork to initiate the investigation for my security clearance required to really get involved in the projects at my company.  Well while discussing my next project with my supervisor, she asked if my investigation was started. Fearful for getting in trouble (in case I can't get a job in four weeks and find myself dejectedly returning in August), I finished updating my paperwork and turned it in. Today, I signed it and showed up for fingerprinting.

Now, the reason I was putting off submitting my paperwork is twofold.

(1) I feel an immense anxiousness over the idea of the government investigating my entire life (I'm sure they'll find and read this at some point), digging me out of my pseudo-anonymity in the world.  A polygraph? Not jazzed about that. Being required to ask the government's position before publishing anything or leaving the country? A security clearance sounds a lot like signing my life over like a goddamn soldier.

(2) The cost of one of these top secret security clearance investigations? I've heard it's something in the ballpark of 10-grand. Now, I'd imagine that if my company invested in such an expensive undertaking, they wouldn't be too happy about me jumping ship before returning anything on that investment.

I do not like to burn bridges.

I suppose resigning a mere few weeks after the initiation would probably save a lot more resources than if I were to do so several months in to the process, or shortly after my clearance goes through. But I can't imagine I'd leave a good impression by disappearing suddenly in the middle of a "personal leave" that started immediately after finally submitting my paperwork months after my security officer started hounding me about it.

Seriously? I am feeling guilty about trying to get out of something I never wanted in the first place?

As I said, today was the last team meeting. My team lead came to my office afterward to praise my hard work over these last 10 months. He said that I did an "exceptional job, especially for someone with your experience level" and that it "was a real pleasure having you on the team."

Well now who feels like a real asshole for secretly trying to get away?

I am trying to tell myself that the timing is right, if I really get to find what I am looking for in LA, that I worked really hard and left a good impression on my team, that I am not abandoning anyone, but I still can't shake the unease that I am burning bridges with the company.

But why should I give a damn? I don't want to work there in the future, do I? All I should care about are my team members who can act as references down the road. And leaving is a move in the direction of shaping my life to be the way I want it to be.

live your life the way that will make you the most happy, regardless of the heaviest conflicting expectations.

I'll let you know when I figure out an easy way to do that.

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