Life Planning by Process of Elimination aka ¿Dónde está la pasión?

Or, POE, as old school SAT-learners may recall.

I’ve been in limbo for months about making my next professional move.  I’m in one of those transitional periods in life where the next decision you make is a pivotal one, since there are many doors you could walk through, each one leading to the arrival of a vastly different and irreversible chain of events.  Some people say that these are the decisions in life that define you.

Okay, perhaps that is a bit dramatic.  Or maybe not.

A recruiter called me, having seen my resume on a job site, describing an open administrative office position.  I politely answered and conveyed that my aspirations did not include ‘career assistant’ (although I had been damn good at the job in the past).  I checked the website the recruiter had mentioned, and noticed that the latest resume I had on file had, in fact, included my career objectives and most recent positions, which the recruiter had blatantly overlooked.  I declined.

I received an email filling me in on a job as a content writer and manager for a website which had a decent salary and was largely involved in the fashion industry and entailed managing a team of writers.  It was also located in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut.  I declined.

Another recruiter emailed me about some life insurance sales opportunity.  I declined.

There are some lazy recruiters out there.  The economy’s on the rocks, we’ve heard, but life is still short; I won’t even feign interest at a lackluster opportunity.  Who wants to waste away at a job they don’t believe in?  It’s akin to staying in a relationship that without really knowing why.  I don’t even like feigning interest socially.  If I can’t get excited about it, why bother?

I left Spain, having an ambiguous notion of finding another job abroad, and jetting back out within a couple of months.  I had the intention of finishing a screenplay or two, getting a few writing pieces published, and reconnecting with family, all while job hunting.

God always has different plans.

Back to the transitional stint.  Which door will you choose?

1. Move back to LA.  Ah, the West Coast.  Land of sun, stars, and, most logically, the place where I’ve called home for five years and in which I’d begun my career and built a network of fine colleagues and friends.  Not to mention, there are some great eats I would not mind enjoying again.

2. Move to NY.  I had, somewhere deep, I mean, deep, way the heck down, back in the dark pits of my brain, the idea of moving to nyc.  After a recent visit to a friend in the metropolis, I’ve been considering it some more.

As multi-faceted as LA but a bit tougher East Coast personality, I could move to nyc once I found a writing/editing gig, not necessarily back in the industry, but none the matter.  No shortage of eateries to be found, and a handful of friends around, however a much higher price tag on living there.

3. Work abroad.  I’d gotten my teaching certification.  Would I ever use it?  Ideas bouncedaround – Spain, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, Korea.   I had given each at least some thought, researched everything from job postings to visa processing and costs of living.  Working abroad entails, essentially, putting my professional career on hold, some might argue.  The same group might remark that I’m putting my personal life on hold (i.e. meeting the right guy + getting married + having kids + white picket fence).  For me, it means embarking upon another priceless adventure, albeit attached with the ups and downs of being a foreigner.

4. Stay local.  Find some gigs in the area, if not in the suburbs, then start working in Philly proper.  But Philly, as I had suspected, has a much smaller job market for my field of work, which made Door #1 and #2 more realistic as far as plans to stay stateside.  This meant that staying local was more likely inclusive of my taking on an occupation of little interest.  #4 is only great in theory, like speed dating and philosophy majors.

People keep telling me that it’s an asset that I’ve been open-minded – that, since I didn’t have tunnel-vision about one direction: I could do any of the above, and would happily go whichever route happened to work out.

However, those decisions I’ve made in the past regarding life-altering junctures always involved having a distinctive and somewhat dogged passion for one direction, one dream, however farfetched or foolish it may have been at the time: I knew what it was that I had wanted.

Perhaps this is what makes this layover period a nebulous for me – the underlying fear of the land that I’m not sure what exactly I want for myself right now.  I wrote down a list of goals – old school, pen to paper.  (When I really want to figure out the nitty-gritty, I need to scratch out the ink, not click away the thoughts, hopes and dreams and stuff.)

What do you want?

What don’t you want?

I’m not rushing to get into a cubicle.  I’m not rushing to get stuck in a job I don’t want just because of the economy’s dark skies.  I don’t want to live in Connecticut and be the only Asian for miles.  I don’t want to move to a city without having a job or friends there first (I’ve played that game before).

Credit it to social media saturation to assist in crafting my next life-altering decision.  To figure out what you want, explore what you like.

I Like…

  • cosmopolitan cities
  • coffee
  • salsa clubs
  • traveling
  • writing
  • television+movies
  • food
  • running
  • beaches
  • cute boys that know how to salsa dance
  • fashion
  • ample places to walk, eat food, and drink coffee
  • versatility

Ah, listmaking.  But anything can be great on paper.  The most powerful factor is what excites you, right? So, how do you know?  ¿Dónde está la pasión?

Meanwhile Activities

While I considered all those doors, I worked on some writing pieces.  I…

  • Submitted a script to two different writing programs.
  • Drafted tons of query and pitch letters to various publications.
  • Researched the content of different publishers and web magazines.
  • Sent out a couple pitches.
  • Updated my resume, rewrote my cover letter, updated my resume again.  (I found the particularly interesting piece on the excruciating the process of submitting your work at .)
  • Ordered some shoes on Zappos.
  • Baked.
  • Returned some shoes.
  • Visited the dermatologist.
  • Got a bad hair job done.
  • Got a couple of articles published.
  • Got a handful of rejection letters.
  • Discovered that all the local mom-and-pop coffeehouses in the area were now Starbucks.
  • Scoured job boards.
  • Applied to more teaching jobs abroad.
  • Got interviewed.
  • Got fingerprinting done for a background check.
  • Went to the beach with my mother.  Got bitten by bugs that day.
  • Did some more writing.
  • Caught up on TV.
  • Another round of treatment at the derm.
  • Decided I wanted a dog.
  • Bought more shoes.

My mother asked if I regretted quitting my job in the entertainment industry – here I was, sitting on the couch with her, in my parents’ house that I haven’t lived in full-time since high school.  I told her that it wasn’t even something I ever thought about.

Too busy asking myself what I want, I guess.


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