Sunday, October 17, 2010

True Tests of Your Character

It is very easy to preach one thing or another. It is totally different to follow through on what you preach. When faced with a decision which flies in the face of everything you have been talking about, this is when your character and principles must really be tested. It is easy to preach virtue and honesty, but much harder when faced with the option to almost effortlessly download copyrighted media online for free. If you really want to tests someone's character, there must be options available to them that go against what they say. It is easy to keep dating the person you are with when there is no one else around. But how is it if something new comes along?

I was recently faced with a potentially life-altering decision. I had a job offer, which to most people, would seem like an incredibly extraordinary opportunity. One in a million. Impossible to refuse. It was totally unexpected, and initially, I completely wrote it off as it flies in the face of everything I have been convincing myself of the past two or three years. The job offer meant I would have to postpone, for at least two years, my long-term travel plans and desire to work on my own projects. I specifically meant to NOT look into any job opportunities because I did not want to face any decisions or compelling offers. Sometimes life throws you curve balls though.

Despite initially thinking there would be no way I would take the job offer, I decided to not decline it right there outright, but just to sit on it for a bit. After thinking a little more and talking to my research advisor, I was able to work out a pretty sweet deal. I would graduate about 5 months earlier than originally planned and start at the new job almost 2 months later. Not only would I finish graduate school early, but I also had bought myself some time in between to travel and explore my own projects and ideas. But 2 months is very different from the 2 years I had imagined. This was DEFINITELY a compromise. However, for a while, I thought maybe it was one I could live with.

Everyone who really knew me could not believe I was considering the job offer. I have been quoted on saying ridiculous things such as "even if I got offered a job with a salary of $500,000 a year, I would still have to turn it down." I had spent the past two years proving to myself how little money I really need to live a complete and happy life. I had taught myself that time was your most valuable asset, not money. But here I was, faced with a clear option which went against all this. My character and values were most definitely being tested.

The next week of my life was one of the most stressful in recent memory. Going through in my head all the pros and cons of taking the job or not. Most of the time, I felt a slight leaning toward taking it, and then, in a moment of extreme clarity, I felt so ridiculous about the prospect of taking it. I knew it was not what I wanted. This cycle persisted.

In the end, I decided not to take the job and stick with my original plan to travel, take time off, and work on my own projects and maybe projects with friends. It is the MUCH scarier option, that is for sure. But it is the one that excites me. It is the one that pushes me to grow. My character was tested, and I had passed the test. The next time yours is, will you?

1 comment:

cspice said...

Congratulations on breaking out of the system. I think the academy community will help reinforce our vision and make it easier to avoiding getting pulled back into the mainstream. Therefore we need to work on making the community stronger.