August 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about how sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to move your life in the direction you want to go.  Or I guess more specifically, I was talking about that, and she was talking about how I should probably reconsider a decision if I have to make sacrifices to change my life, because how do I know I’m really improving it? She argued that effectively I would be trading something I know I care about for something uncertain.

This, of course, confused me, because my friend is moving across the country in a couple of month to be closer to her boyfriend. A big life change in my opinion. Her response was that her move does not fall into this category, because she was not making any sacrifices by doing so.

Now, her decision to move makes perfect sense. Long distance relationships are awful. I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue that it’s a good idea to live a couple thousand miles away from your significant other. At some point in your relationship someone has to move. What I couldn’t really understand  though, was the idea that somehow she wasn’t giving anything up to do this. I just couldn’t see myself in a situation where this was ever true.

Let’s say tomorrow MIT calls me up and offers me a  tenured faculty position in their ECE department and a grant so I can do my own research. I know, unrealistic, but if it happened I would most definitely say yes on the spot, without a bit of hesitation. And why not? It is effectively my dream job. Boston is pretty high on my list of cities. And I actually have quite a few friends working in the area.

But even for an opportunity as amazing as that, I still don’t see how I wouldn’t be making sacrifices. I’ll be leaving behind my friends(and particularly my best friend). I’ll be further away from D.C, which I like more than Boston. I’ll be giving up working with the people in my lab whom I’ve gotten to know and trust. Leaving the lab also would mean I won’t get to finish the work I’ve been spending the past 2 years researching. None of that would probably change my decision, but to say that giving those things up aren’t sacrifices? To me that would almost be an insult. What would that say about their value to me right now? What would that say about my current life, to be able to just toss it out without a hint of regret?

Perhaps its the way I was brought up, but to me everything comes with a price. It’s what makes my decisions and choices meaningful. And perhaps that’s where the disconnect occurred. I see sacrifices as positive things; as things I want to have when I’m making an important life decision. Sacrifices mean that there is value in my current life and that if this choice didn’t exist, there would still be things I enjoy and care about. I think I would be pretty upset at myself if I was ever in a situation where a life changing decision didn’t have any negative impact at all; where I wouldn’t miss a thing about my old life. If there’s absolutely nothing keeping me there, why haven’t I changed it already?


5 Responses to “Sacrifice”

  1. klaygenie Says:

    Oh my god! I actually have a post queued up right now on our conversation too! Obviously from my point of view, so stay tuned.

  2. Eric Mesa Says:

    Well, I don’t know enough about the situation to know if Kai’s transferring to another office in her same company, but if not, then she’s definitely sacrificing. Whenever you start a new job you usually end up lower in the vacation earning scheme. Like if you’re with a company for 5 years you have 20 vacation days vs 10 or something like that.

    Also, I know (from her blog) that Kai loves the indie music scene in WI, so she’s giving that up.

    There’s also the constant travel that allows her to visit you guys every other month.

    As you said in the last paragraph, it seems that perhaps the disagreement was caused by semantics. That none of these things seem like sacrifices because that seems like something much more dramatic has to be given up.

  3. […] friend and I discussed making sacrifices in order to move your life in the direction of your choosing. To be clear, I’m not against changing your life based on some new direction you want to […]

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