Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oregon, One Year Later

To be precise, just over a year later.

I've drafted several posts recapping my first year in Portland. None of them get finished, and that's a good indication that one large, grand piece of writing summing things up just isn't a good idea. It won't capture everything that's happened, it won't be fun to write, and it won't be fun to read. So I'm aiming to write some short posts and hopefully finally record some of the more interesting stories of things that have happened.

A little more than a year later, I'm in my fourth home in Portland and my second job. I'm finally feeling settled.

I think it's safe to write about this now (I have been holding off until it was official), but as of August 1, I will have a real job here in Portland. Aside from some minor details, it's exactly what I was doing at my last job in New Jersey. While many aspects of that job were what pounded the final nail in the coffin of my NJ residency, there were many, many things I loved about that job and that type of work. I'm thrilled to be involved in horticultural education again.

I'm also in the process of applying to a graduate program, one where the classes are offered on evenings and weekends, so it won't interfere with my ability to work.

For now, what I'd like to write about is where I was when I left NJ and where I am now, with respect to employment. Many people thought I was kind of nuts to leave a full-time, stable job for something temporary and unstable in this economy. Leaving the prosperous Northeast for the jobless Northwest* seemed even crazier. The people who thought I was making a smart move seemed to have as the basis of this belief thoughts similar to my own, that my decision was based on happiness and experience and other things important and not related to finances.

I agreed with the latter group, but I also didn't think I was making such a bad move professionally.

My beliefs were that in such an economy, nothing was certain, not even the prosperity of the Northeast. This was one reason I put happiness and experience above wealth. Happiness aside, wealth wasn't even guaranteed in New Jersey.

A year later, I have a job doing what I like to do. I want to write about this for anyone else considering a seemingly kinda-nuts professional decision/relocation. I want to write this for people who feel like they will be punished down the line for choosing happiness over financial stability. If you're smart about it, things can work out for you.

Without sounding too didactic, what I want to say is that if you are creative and flexible, if you keep networking and volunteering, if you're open to possibilities, you won't be punished for your search for happiness; you'll be rewarded for your persistence. That's what I think, anyway. That is how I feel. I think I'm an example of this. While I'm not exactly rich, I didn't end up destitute as a result of my choices last spring. More than anything, I'm happy.


* At the time of my move, Oregon had the second highest unemployment rate in the country. Shortly after my move, it got knocked down to third place by a Northeastern state &mdash I think Connecticut.

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