There are moments in life when you know that the decision you are making will probably impact your life for a long time. The past few weeks have contained a lot of those moments for me. And it has panicked me a lot, for all of those weeks. Things are better today, though.
We’ve been trying to decide what kind of graduate school I will attend when R begins rabbinical school in the fall. We decided that we’d go the starving student route, rather than the domino route, because it seemed to make sense to us. It will be difficult financially, but I think we can manage. We’ve saved quite a bit here, so that’ll help us avoid “starving student” status for a while. Hopefully, anyway. In any case, I originally had a very clear picture of where I wanted to be, and what I needed to do to get there. Things were becoming less clear as reality kicked in.
What was the big dilemma? Mostly, it was to do with the intersection of work and family. Could a family survive with two people in high-powered careers? Could it survive if one changed their dream to accomodate family more? Was the change necessary? What if debt from school prevented us from starting a family when we wanted to? Which, in turn, prevented us from having as many children as we’d like (not that many, but maybe more than two?) A tumble of what ifs? were racing around, muddying the waters of decision.
I pretty much had no idea what to think. I thought I might have an answer ( a less demanding program, costing less money, for a different degree). When I asked my boss for a reference, he sat me down and asked me what was going on. Having given me references previously, this was clearly a totally different thing. We talked through some of my concerns, and the only ones he couldn’t fully address were the challenges of being a woman in a demanding career (for obvious reasons). He also reminded me that, no matter what, this isn’t the only choice I’ll make. I make the choice every semester, every little while, to stay with what I’m doing or move on. It was cathartic in a way, and I wish I had talked to him sooner. Someone who had way less of a stake in things talking me through things was important. It also didn’t hurt that my program of choice offered me a significant amount of money almost the next day.