Tuesday morning

English: I took this photo in the San Fernando...

I spent Monday in the San Fernando Valley area of L.A., interviewing for what seemed like a perfect job. I hustled there and spent the entire day with two very kind people. The company was very glossy and seemed prosperous. The job sounded exciting, fast-paced, and like something at which I have historically performed well. I was excited about the prospect of a new life there, because what’s not to like? Disneyland, Magic Mountain, and a myriad of other activities are there.

I awoke Tuesday morning to the sound of my soul screaming “NOOOOOOO!!!!” And this time I listened. I had prayed for discernment on Sunday, and that kind of a soul-scream is clearly an answer to my prayer, even if it isn’t quite what my head wanted to hear.

I’ve had a few days now to reflect on what I witnessed and, more importantly, what I did not see. The interview was with a University, and I can count on one hand the number of students I saw in the several hours I spent on two campuses. I saw boxes stacked up and piles of disarray in an office that had been established for four years. I saw beautiful technology that either didn’t have the necessary software, was missing hardware, or didn’t have anyone trained to use it. I didn’t get a straight answer to my question about my hours at the company, but was told to expect “long hours.” I was told that the title I would accept was a gross under-representation of what it really should be, and that I would be very busy managing two campuses that were 100 miles apart — in L.A. traffic, smog, and aridity. I didn’t see any green except some paint and neon signs. I saw one of the team with whom  I would manage the campus who told me in confidence that he was getting and advanced degree and then would quit the company. I also saw a company that mandated its managers to obtain PhDs — or else.

Yep, you got it. I saw an underfunded sweat shop with corporate management that transcended the “what have you done for me lately” mentality, adopting a “why didn’t you finish it yesterday.” I saw a company that want to force doctorates on people who could easily wash out of the process — there’s a reason why non-medical doctors are uncommon, and it has to do with the intensity of the journey from masters to doctorate — and who would be disposed of for a gullible and hungry doctor. And I didn’t see students. Excuse me for nitpicking, but it seems to me that I should have seen more than five students in eight hours of interviewing, especially since they proudly told me that they had class from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every week day.

The answer to my prayer for discernment drowned out a desperate wish to get to the better life I desperately want for my family. I’m glad it did. My husband and mom both commented that the rigors of the job could easily kill me, as the R.A. makes me extremely prone to fatigue, which I try to overlook as best I can. If you have a condition that is fatigue-inducing, you’ll know that you can only postpone rest for so long before your body forces it on you through over-exhaustion or (occasionally) a serious illness.

My freedom cry that I described last week resounded through my head as I listened to my soul. I realized that I am not willing to sacrifice the following just for money:

  1. My family time
  2. My health
  3. The intense joy I derive from teaching other adults

So this week, I get the incredible opportunity to visit a different university, but as a potential professor in a subject that I love. The school is in the Pacific Northwest, an area in which my husband and I have talking about living for at least 10 years. The hours and responsibilities seem much more humane, and I would get to keep items 1-3 above.

I hope it’s as good as it seems. I have prayed again for discernment, so we’ll see what my soul says this time.

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