Searching and Measuring: Reflecting on EXPLORE

My god, this would have been the perfect week to travel.

One of my favorite things in life is taking to a new place on foot. Winding through streets with a general destination in mind but no hurry or rush to get there. To see the touristy sights, to discover the hidden gems, to picture what it would be like to live here. Is it for me? How would my life be different? How would it be the same?

The escapism of a new country or a new town or an unknown road speaks to all of us in a similar way to the familiarity of our childhood homes. There’s something there that you want to soak in until you’ve covered every square inch and can finally feel satisfied.

Alas. This week I did not get to travel. I did not even make an attempt to explore my new city on foot, though last Friday we did have a new neighborhood recommended to us with some good ol’ Southern architecture.

Rather my exploration was more about mapping my future. Over a matter of days, two paths unfurled themselves in front of me. One was the promise of a new skill set and better boss. The other, homework and late night coffee fixes.

For me, grad school has been a long time in the making. Working in higher ed, I have to earn another degree at some point. But at 32, I don’t want to study for the GRE and re-learn all the useless information I’ve lost in the past 15 years post-graduation (I’m looking at you, geometry). And finding a program that actually fits with how I want to build a career but won’t take an eternity to complete has been a struggle. But last week I finally bit the bullet, applied to a program that the more I EXPLORED it, the more excited I became. Josh heard me proclaim more than once a class on Deviant Behavior? Oh my god, that’s PERFECT! I drafted the essay, deposited the application fee, requested the referrals.

And of course as soon as my mind was made up and submissions made — poof. Another opportunity to throw me into a tailspin.

Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize this as a true blessing and a privilege. But there’s nothing quite like an equally promising, well, promise that makes you doubt all your well-intentioned choices.

A job posting, related to my field and supervised by someone I have a positive standing relationship with opened. I was more than qualified and the words “love to have you” may have been bandied about. My heart was aglow with the feeling of appreciation from an office I respect. This position was a glittering resolution to my six-month struggle with new leadership of my office. A remedy to the soul-crushing lack of value for my efforts. A muffle to the ever-growing rants about infuriating decisions towards which I have no (official) voice.

Last week I found myself awake late at night, mentally EXPLORING my options. Weighing one versus another. Envisioning which would make greatest impact and afford me greatest future success. Stressing and dreaming and scrutinizing.

I ended up not applying for the job, putting all my eggs in the familiar basket. Metaphorically choosing to stroll the streets I cross every day seeking for a glimpse of something yet-unseen. The tucked away door that leads to the Secret Garden. That’s the risk of EXPLORE, I suppose. It can be fun and exciting but also tiring and kinda scary if you turn down an unfamiliar street and find yourself at a crossroads.

Wish me luck.

This week we REPAIR…

And be sure to check out Steph’s post on #VOWexplore

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