Let’s Talk about Opportunity

So, I’m finding myself at a really interesting crossroads in my life right now. I’m going to try and keep this vague so that I don’t harm anyone’s particular sensibilities, but I know that some people who are close to me will be able to figure out what I’m talking about and will kinda get at what I’m about to say. But here goes! As I always say, people deserve to see me as I am and they deserve to learn just that extra little bit about me.

I put this really eloquently to my roommate, Jay Cooper, the other day. “When opportunity comes knocking, how do you know whether it is the right time or not? Is now the right time? Or is it time to wait?” I’ve known quite a few people in my life who… to be honest… just sat around waiting. They sat in a place they didn’t want to be for too long, waiting for the ‘right time.’ I’d talk to them, and they’d talk about how much they’re tired of the place they’re in and that they don’t want to be there, but when I encourage them to move on and see if they can get anything better, the time just ‘isn’t right.’ They don’t feel the call. They don’t see the open door. Or maybe they don’t want to go and open their own door… but that’s a different perspective.

Point is, my experience shows me that people languish when they wait for the right moment to seize opportunity. From the outside, you kinda end up wondering why they’re allowing themselves to stay stuck, and stuck is the way that you see it. I imagine that, on the inside looking out, it’s more like trying to see through a foggy lense, and the uncertainty just bites at you and you don’t know how to act, much less open your own doors or make your own destiny.

That’s how I’m kinda seeing it now. This whole journal is based around my profession. Let me lay some context, first.

My first job was working as a pizza delivery driver for Pizza Hut. My mom was the one who suggested it to me, and much as I dismissed it at first, I eventually took that on and I didn’t and don’t regret it. I grew up as a driver working that job. When you’re having to drive on a schedule, how and when and where you drive suddenly becomes a lot more important. But that is not a job you stay in and I was very much ready to move on the first moment it came. Opportunity (college) knocked and I moved on and didn’t look back.

My second (unique) job – as I consider it – was working at Jiffy Lube doing basic car maintenance. Much like pizza delivery, it’s low brow work and it doesn’t require educated skill, not really. But it was worthy for me. You’re working to keep people’s cars in shape, and that keeps them moving around. That keeps money moving around, which keeps the economy moving around. I dunno, but I found it really rewarding in its own way. Plus, I got my hands dirty and walked around a lot and kept in shape doing that kind of work. And I learned an awful lot about cars and learned a great respect for maintaining what you have. I’ve seen what badly maintained cars look like, and I’ve seen the people who drive them. It’s not entirely pretty (for the people, it’s mostly that you see them and you know that they are stuck with what they have and regret it). But again, that’s not a job that you stay in and I was ready to move on. When I did, I didn’t look back.

My third job was working for an ESL (English as a Second Language) school in Seoul, South Korea. Notice that’s South Korea. Not North Korea for you knuckle draggers. South Korea. That was also a very rewarding job, and it taught me a lot about myself and a lot about humans in general. It’s really weird when you see the humans when they’re small. They’re not really all that different than they are when they’re adults. The fights are over smaller things. That’s really the only difference when it comes down to it. We, as adults, fight with the same emotions that we fought with when we were little. And the fights are resolved much in the same way, with reason and mediation. Or they aren’t! You never quite know with those odd humans. And I learned about myself because I found out how I could have patience and see things for the long haul rather than for the short haul. When you teach people, you don’t think about where they’ll be tomorrow, you think about where they’ll be in a month, or even a year. Teaching is a slow thing, and you don’t and shouldn’t expect everything to change overnight. Again, ultimately, I found an ending point, and when I found it I moved on and didn’t look back.

But now, I find myself in my current profession. I love what I do. I love who I do it with. especially my boss. I love the product and I love what it is able to do for people. I love the role that I play in delivering and moderating that product for the people who use it, and it means a lot to me that I’m able to make a difference and have made a difference where it counts. The weird thing is that I’ve suddenly found opportunity knocking when I don’t feel done yet. In the past, I would feel done, and I would move on and not look back, right? Now, though, it’s like opportunity knocks early, and it knocks everywhere. Doors are open all over the place and it’s like the whole world asks “What are you waiting for? Why are you standing still? Move! Opportunity knocks!” But I’m not done! If I move on now, will I look back? Will I regret? And ohhh, how I’m stuck wondering if I will like the new place I find myself in if I did take that opportunity. Or that one. Or that other one. It’s definitely an odd place I find myself in.

I’m stuck. I’m stuck between “languishing in wait for the opportunity to your dreams is bad” and loyalty to the company that has given me more meaning  – and has done more to help me find my confidence – than any institution in my entire life. This is saying nothing about all of the awesome awesomeness that is the culture and the team and the people that I work with every day. That is a hard, hard loyalty to beat. And having to question that in lieu of the knocking opportunities grows more and more and more difficult by the day. And feeling that I would be betraying that very personal, emotional loyalty for what – quite honestly – feels like a material craving makes my heart ache and my stomach churn.

This is weird, right? I’m talking about a job! Jobs shouldn’t define you to this level and shouldn’t affect you like this! In this day and age, no one has loyalty anymore, and people jump at the job that offers the most pay/benefits. But I guess I don’t quite think that way, and it’s a hard thing to reconcile.

In the end, the ‘opportunities’ that I’m talking about haven’t materialized and I’m not yet willing to take action on them. They’ve only been on my mind, and it’s good that they have been. My perspective on things is that you are made better by your struggles, and the more you think about a taxing thing, the better you are prepared to face it. But I honestly fear that possible day when I talk to my boss and tell him that I have made other plans to move on. And I honestly think that it would break my heart to do so.

And that is the effect that opportunity has on me at this point in my life.