The Math

Math has sort of become the basis of my rationale. I love to crunch numbers. Write budgets/run vacation scenarios/etc. Numbers are solid, they are predictable….they are dependable.

What can’t be quantified is matters of the hearts…..as much as I have tried I can’t quantify the value of a feeling, or a dream…..Can you? We all have dreams.

We all sit around and think ‘if I could do anything I would ____’

Now say that dream sat before you, but it couldn’t come for free. What quantity of money would you give up to pursue your dreams?

It is easy when you are just thinking about it to say something huge…it’s my dream, I would do it for free if necessary. That’s all well and good to say…..now factor in you have a family, a house, hefty student loans…it gets harder right? That number isn’t quite as big as when you first thought of it, huh?

Obviously life isn’t cut and dry. It would just be too easy to walk into a dream store, look at the price tag of your dream and see a $20 bill taped to it with a note that says ‘this dream pays you!’…..I wish that was how it worked….I was honestly hoping that is how things would materialize, even though deep down I knew it couldn’t possibly be that easy.

As I am thinking about it now, it actually makes perfect sense. This is the ultimate test. Can I give up some safety and security…basically scare the shit out of myself – to pursue my dreams?….are my dreams worth the risk.

As you probably guessed Ze Dream Job showed back up….they said ‘we’re ready! are you?’. I thought it was just going to all fall into place. I mean technically we had had the salary/benefits conversation already…..I wasn’t expecting any hick-ups along the way….then came the hick-ups…and more than one:

  • slight reduction in salary….which is almost negated by the improvement in commute time.
  • Loss of vacation/personal leave….we could almost call this a wash. Lost about a week and a half of time off, but gain about 300 hours lost each year to that stinking commute….this one is almost a win.
  • zero maternity leave benefits…..yeah this one hurt, it really hurt. I found myself thinking ‘could I give up getting pregnant for a year to figure this one out?’. The answer to that is a resounding – no. The math revealed that this one was a significant loss, but not an insurmountable one. There is nothing like no maternity benefits to make you realize that even a teeny one was better than nothing. But I will never choose to not have a child based on money….mostly because apparently having a child is fucking difficult. So, I have decided we can start scraping savings together, granted with less salary this will be more difficult, but hey – dreams and shit.
  • and now for the kicker…..the straw that practically broke the camels back – so ze dream firm pays for the employees medical coverage. When it first presented itself I thought well then the cost of paying for adding a family to the coverage couldn’t be THAT much more than we currently pay….um yes….yes it can. Specifically 300% more…..300% you read that right. The difference between paying about $300/month to paying $1K. That is the actual number. That is the number that had me nauseous and sweating….that is the number that made me realize I might actually lose this dream.

Every other number cost could be rationalized away…but $8,000 a year on top of the loss of a little bit of salary…and I mean, I know our life is comfortable, but it isn’t comfortable enough to kiss goodbye to THAT big a chunk of money.

I was ready to step away….and then….and then Andy reminded me of the best part of my life – him. To tell you what an amazing husband I have is just impossible. He has flaws…he has some serious flaws dudes, but he is also the person just for me.

How there is a person out there who can look at a tangible number, realize what it really means financially and then say “you have to take it”…..I mean how could that person exist? But he does.

He reminded me of the value of my dreams….of my happiness. He reminded me that we moved accross the country to pursue that dream, we put our marriage on the brink of disaster for that dream, and if we couldn’t figure out how to get through a measely $10ish thousand dollars on top of that, to finally achieve what I had always wanted….then how could life ever be worth it? He told me he knew a LOT of people who were miserable but had a lot of money….and he asked me if I wanted to be like them…..and the answer is a resounding no.

Yes I have a good job….yes I cry at the thought of the people I work with who have helped me grown and taught me amazing gifts….yes I could manage what I currently have….I could go on recognizing them as opportunities and find happiness…..but passing up the dream?

Now don’t get me wrong – I am scared shitless!….I cried no less than 3 times on my drive to work this morning. Mostly at the thought of quitting (which is hilarious because I won’t be putting in my notice for another two weeks) but also for the unknown…for the risk. The risk of security and safety and predictability for my family.

But I also looked at Jack last night as we sat together in the living room. I pet his downy hair and thought ‘what will you tell him someday when he has a similar dilemma?’. And of course I would tell him that money can’t replace your dreams. You have to follow them. Put faith in yourself, your ability, and your desire….and then let go of the stuff you want to control, but can’t. As I thought of what I would tell him, I realized my parents would tell me the same. How is it okay to want something like this for your child, but not be able to give that same gift to yourself? It isn’t….at some point you have to give yourself that same permission to dream.

Now to tone down the drama, we’re not talking about me leaving a career with medical benefits to do something like work at a minimum wage job somewhere. I am giving up a little bit of comfort, but I am not going to cause us to be homeless or something…..and really after I made my decision – I sort of laughed at myself for making such a huge deal out of it…..I mean it is a big deal, but it also isn’t.

At 1 am I wrote an e-mail to ze dream firm. I told them how sick I felt at the thought of giving up this position due to insurance coverage. Ever the activist (and also a HUGE thanks to my ladies), I found some other options that would be manageable on the insurance front…..they still make me nervous, but it will be okay….which gives me the creation of a new bumper sticker:

Dreams: if you’re not scared shitless, you’re not doing it right

I told them that I had to trust that this would be worth it. That I couldn’t pass this up. That I wanted to take it.

At 5:30a I received a response. A very amazing response that told me I couldn’t have made a better decision with where to put my trust. That this firm would try its darndest to take me where I wanted to go, they realized the sacrafice this would mean, and that it spoke volumes of who I was and what I would bring to their firm……

And so it begins…..on February 4th, in the most ridiculously rational way you could imagine considering how risky I made this all out to be….I am leaving the nest…..And I just have to hold my shit together for 9 more hours. Until my current boss goes on Christmas vacation and I can avoid spilling the beans for another week and a half….which when you are fighting tears at the thought of leaving is really hard to do. The only deduction I can make is that I am incredibly blessed in so many ways: amazing family, the best partner I could ever ask for, outstanding friends, a current employer who has become a real family to me, and a future full of excitement and possibilities.

Suddenly the math doesn’t matter.

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8 thoughts on “The Math

  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m proud of you for going through with it! I’m a big believer that putting your faith in the unknown reaps big rewards! I think you are destined for greatness! Good luck and I look forward to hearing more about your journey!

    (YAY!!!!)

  2. I am SO excited for you friend! And so very very proud. You are making the right decision, and I’ve got to say – the people I know in this life who are the happiest and most successful are the people who sacrificed and took risks to follow their dreams, because they believed in the POWER of those dreams that much. You are so going to be one of those people, and I cannot wait to see where this path takes you.

  3. Congratulations natalie!!! What a fantastic early Christmas present! I know you have put a lot of thought into your future professionally speaking so I’m sure you didn’t make the decision lightly, but good for you for following your dreams and setting a great example for jack! How exciting!!

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