In my last entry, August 25, 2000: A Dream of Stephen King, I spoke of a demon called "Impatience". Impatience is always a struggle for me, but now there’s a demon of another sort bothering me: Resentment.
Those two or three of you who have been following my journal since the beginning probably remember an entry from March or April where I spoke of my plans for an upcoming two-month solo sojourn through Europe. I’d set up my 403(b) account with the University and was regularly stuffing 30% of my monthly income into it in order to save up for the trip; when the time for the trip came the plan was, I would take out a loan against that account and begin paying myself back upon my return.
The plan was going well. When I proposed to Jennifer, she asked that I not postpone my trip just to accommodate the upcoming marriage. With some prodding, I agreed, and began to plan out my itinerary, I began calling around to check out ticket prices, and making some contacts with people in Europe that I could hook up with while I was there. The first leg of the trip was going to take me through the British Isles, especially Ireland and Wales — places that I had always dreamed of visiting.
But plans come and plans go. When my job at the University became unbearable, I knew that I had to leave that job and that I would face a very difficult choice: either move on and make my job change and start heading on a career path which I knew would be a lot more rewarding but sacrifice the Europe trip, or stick with the unacceptable job but keep the trip. In the end, I chose to change jobs and sacrifice my European trip. I suppose that I could talk to my new manager and tell him that I’m going to take two months off in April and May, but I doubt it would go over well, since I’ll have been with the company for less than a year at that point. Probably not the best of plans.
So I sacrificed the Europe trip, but with very little regret because I knew that the career change would serve me much better in the long run; and while I will probably never again have an opportunity to spend two months backpacking in Europe, either solo or with someone, the career change was, I felt, worth it.
Now the company that Jennifer is currently assigned to is talking about sending her to Milan, Italy, for two months to work on the project there. She won’t be able to go because the time frame they’re talking about is right about the time that construction on the house will be heating up and we’ll both need to be around to work with the contractor to make decisions about things like faucets, electrical wiring, and so on. While a part of me is glad that she has been offered this opportunity, there’s another part of me — a disturbingly large part — which isn’t, and which is glad that she won’t be able to go. I’ve spent much of the past two days — between moving, plumbing, sorting and organizing books and CD’s and coping with incoming housemates and financial complications — soul-searching and trying to figure out why I’m feeling this way.
The answer is, probably, resentment.
I first conceived of my trip to Europe about two years ago, shortly before I even met Jennifer. I began saving money right away, first putting it into a savings account, and starting some early planning, back in 1998. In early 1999, I wound up with some medical expenses and other financial emergencies which required large amounts of cash — just the amount that I had in savings, in fact, close to $1200 at the time. So my savings were wiped out, and I had to begin again. I saved a few hundred dollars before having to start over again. Then I began the 403(b) account, and I now have close to $3000 there; if I’d stuck with the University, I would have close to $7000 by the time I left for Europe, far more than enough to pay for the trip and for the costs that would accrue back home while I was gone (e.g., a month’s worth of rent, and so on). Of course, since I’m no longer with the University, no more money is going into that account, so the money will sit there gathering light interest until I get to transfer to the 401(k) with my new company.
In other words, the trip had been planned and postponed several times. And each time I cancelled it I did so with some regret, and each time I restarted the process it was with some glee. But this time, the cancellation was final, and there is no real hope of rescheduling any time within the next couple of years.
My new job offers some travel. For the rest of this month and probably through the end of next month I’ll be spending the majority of my time here in Portland. In October, I’ll be headed out to Boston to attend a trade show. In November, I’ll be going to Atlanta. And in December, Los Angeles. After that, though, the travel will probably taper off. And with this company, there will never be international travel. And, being realistic, my skill set probably will never call for any sort of international travel, since UI can really be done from the comfort of one’s own home (part of the reason why I’ve decided that I really need to start making another shift and start building up some back end and programming skills, especially database skills). Conceivably, I could get myself into a situation where I would get to do some international travel while still using the skills that I enjoy; but, realistically, it will probably not happen within the next few years, if ever.
So this is where the resentment comes in. I gave up my own international travel plans for a career which will probably never offer the opportunity for travel; and Jennifer’s current assignment will get her going overseas, if not for two months, then probably for some brief periods of time. I’m happy that she has these opportunities, but at the same time I feel upset and angry and even hurt. It’s nothing Jennifer did and I hope to God that I don’t wind up taking out these feelings out on her (and I’m sure that she’ll let me know if I do), but these feelings have colored my mood all weekend and are really gnawing at me this morning.
Last night, I dropped Jennifer off at her local office so that she could take care of some business while I ran some errands of my own. After I finished up my errands, I went back to her office to pick her up. I found myself getting depressed while I was there. It reminded me that while I’m closer to where I want to be, career-wise, I still have a hell of a long way to go, and the feeling is daunting and intimidating. There’s nothing anyone can do about these feelings except for myself, and the only thing I can do is to continue building my skills and keeping an eye out for new opportunities and challenges.
I’m a lot more optimistic about my future than I was just a few months ago. But, still, these feelings — the intimidation, the resentment, the anger, and even the hurt — still remain.