Friday, August 21, 2009

Reason #4: I am stubborn.

That might not sound like much of a selling point, but let me elaborate. I'm not stubborn all the time. I work well as a member of a team, I like collaborative projects, and I rarely mind compromising on where to eat dinner or whatever. When it comes to things I really care about, however, I can be just as stubborn as that mule in the picture. 

For instance, back in college, I almost always had a passable paper written at least 24 hours before the deadline, and yet I routinely found myself sprinting across campus to hand that paper in on time. This was due not to procrastination, but to a bullheaded refusal to hand in anything but my very best work. I recall one paper in particular that I trashed a day and a half before it was due because I realized a slightly different reading of a key passage could lead to a significantly more interesting thesis. Thirty-six hours later, I was cursing that decision as I ran through snow in sandals to get the paper handed in on time (I'd been so focused on the paper I'd failed to notice the first snowstorm of the year had blown in), but it was worth it. My professor liked the paper and, more importantly, I was really proud of what I'd written. 

This whole job search process is another prime example of my particular brand of stubbornness. I'm quite sure I could have found a full-time job as a receptionist for a company or corporation I didn't care about, but that's just not good enough. That's not why I went to college. That's not why I've spent so much time and energy trying to figure out what I want to do. I don't mean to imply that I think certain jobs are somehow beneath me (they're not), but, as mentioned in an earlier post, I feel strongly that, given the amount of time, money, and energy invested in my education, I have a strong moral obligation to find a job that will benefit people besides me. And, mule-like, I've refused to budge on this issue.

Now, as I see it, digging my heels in about finding a job that helps people is different from refusing to adapt to a situation that's been radically different than I expected, and I think I have adapted. I moved to San Francisco assuming I'd find work with an educational nonprofit, but I quickly realized I needed to broaden my search, to compromise a bit. I think that's actually a good thing. If I'd gotten a job at an educational organization, there's a good chance I would never have looked back. I've applied for educational, environmental, urban planning, social justice, and even a couple of public health jobs, and would be genuinely excited to take on any of them. I'm also getting less stubborn about staying in San Francisco, so, friends, if any of you are reading this and wish I would come join you in New York, D.C., London, Bozeman, San Antonio, or wherever you may be (or, alternately, if you want to get me as far away from you as possible and send me to Timbuktu or Perth or wherever), go ahead and start sending me job postings. I would even consider moving someplace with winter again. 

But I am still determined to do good work, and I don't think I'm ever going to change my mind about that. 

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