Relocation decisions ...

Feb 17 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

After the entries on the job search and how hon and I met, I had a inquiry as to how our relationship factored in my decision of where to look for work.

The epic job search of 2011 was ... well, epic. It stemmed from feeling like I wasn't getting anything accomplished during my postdoc, that my talents and knowledge were being wasted by my project and mentor (and even myself) and how unhappy I was. I was pretty frustrated, which, sadly, seeped into all areas of my life, especially my relationship with honey.

I was very miserable most days. I'd be happy and excited on Friday afternoon and then by Sunday at noon I'd be pissed and frustrated. I wasn't aware of it, until one Sunday when hon pointed it out ... he said something along the lines of being tired of seeing me become miserable because Monday, and consequently, the work week, were approaching, and that it was beyond frustrating to have a partner in a sour mood come the weekend. The weekend was to relax, and enjoy. There was no reason to be sad! It dawned on me how my attitude was affecting him and how frustrating it was for him to try to keep a smile and feel happy, when he had this big blob of unhappiness around. Another time he said, with tears in his eyes, that it was incredibly frustrating for him to see me depressed and pissed about my postdoc, because he thought having him there, and close to me, even under the worst of circumstances, would be enough to keep me happy. Later, I realized that while I was happy to be with him, if my work/lab life were frustrating, it would invariably invade every aspect of my life.

So, one day, once I'd made the decision to talk to my postdoc mentor and alert him of my impending job search, hon and I were talking about the future, and future plans, work, outlook, etc. He looked at me with his usual, loving eyes and said that it didn't matter what corner of the world I ended up in moving to, as long as I was feeling happy and fulfilled, he'd be happy for me ... even if it had us be apart again. That was beyond generous and wonderful on his part, because it lifted some of the weight off my shoulders and helped me brave it out and try places I wouldn't have considered otherwise. I also knew that whatever position I'd end up in would be somewhat short-lived, as I wanted to a) test the waters and see if I could start loving (and enjoying) research again, and b) use said opportunity as a jump start to eventually go back to my family and my known surroundings and either teach, or teach and do a bit of research (as a SLAC or something whatever similar situation) or work as staff.

With that in mind my obvious choices were to look for work in Canada or in the East Coast of the US. It didn't matter what part of Canada it was (well, except the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northern Territories ... brrr, too much snow!) as long as we could stay in Canada. And it really didn't matter which part of the Eastern US, as long as it was a blue state. I wanted to be close enough to visit hon and my family whenever I could (hasn't materialized yet), be close enough to big cities and have a somewhat decent climate.

Hon's openness and encouragement served as a much needed force to keep me going, and his willingness to visit/temporarily relocate wherever I moved to were crucial. Some of his most moving words "find a job, any job, as long as it keeps you excited and smiling, even if it's miles away ... because if you're happy, I'm happy" were uttered many times. Having his support was important during the search.

Making the final decision wasn't easy. While my current position was at the top of my choices, ideally I would have had a combination of the location of possible position #2 with the benefits and freedom of my current one. I'm by no means pissed at my current position ... but there will always be room for improvement. Since our relationship has lasted this long, and survived several moves (and states, and countries!) I was confident that the skills we'd acquired would come in handy and keep us going.

It hasn't been easy having half of my heart away while adapting to a new city, and new ... everything. Thankfully Skype, IM, texting and his visits, have kept us alive. Hon has come a few times and stayed for a bit, one time almost 3 weeks! I know the job market in our neck of the woods is tough, but I'm scouting it out and hopefully in the next year or so I can start the relocation (once again ... I hope for good!).

An understanding partner, experience in long-distance relationships, trust, humour, taking chances and faith in us allowed me (and allowed hon a few years ago) to move to across countries to pursue opportunities that have helped our careers. It hasn't been easy, but we also haven't shied away from taking chances and moving away (temporarily) to pursue dreams and training.

2 responses so far

  • Liz says:

    I'm excited that my question inspired this post. Thanks for writing it! Sounds like you have a fantastic significant other and a great relationship. Having never had a long distance relationship with my bf, I am quite apprehensive of the possibility but recongize that it may be neccessary for awhile from a career development point of view. This is probably my top concern as I begin a job search. It is great to hear another ancedote on the subject, thanks.

    • 27andaphd says:

      Hi Liz! It is my pleasure. And I'm the one that's thankful for your comment and for serving as inspiration for the post! It's a question hon and I get quite a bit, seeing as we've spent nearly half of our 6 years together apart. It hasn't been easy, but the most important thing is that we treat each other with respect, we communicate openly and often (we talk every single night, for about an hour, and text each other throughout the day, we also DM on Twitter). It's definitely not the ideal solution, but we make it work somehow because we're important for each other and our careers are also top, which is why we try hard. I've met a few people (including profs) that have shared their LDR stories with me and some are incredible (one prof in Cali while the other is in the East Coast, when they see each other, how long, sometimes almost a decade, and married!). Keep asking, people like to share their stories :-). Thanks for your question and for serving as the inspiration for the post.