Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Wife reconciling her heart to what her head knows is best
Avoiding Bittersville: Eighteen months ago my husband and I moved across the country for a great (but temporary) job opportunity for him. I left a job I loved and am now working in a job that I hate (same profession). He was recently offered a position here that is too good to turn down; it will keep us here for six more years at least.
We came to the decision to move, and now stay, jointly. I truly believe it's the right decision. But I am a little sad for myself. I am actively looking for a new job but worry I won't find one. I have to work due to student loans, and even if I could take this time to stay home and have a baby (a common suggestion from others) I'm not ready to abandon a career I've worked hard for.
So my question: How do I keep perspective on all of this and make sure I don't become bitter if things don't work out for me career-wise?
Carolyn: Do people who aren't already bitter or resentful really worry about becoming bitter or resentful?
I ask this as a legitimate question, not as a rhetorical flourish.
I don't know. It just seems as if someone who is feeling good about a decision won't be worried about not feeling good about it somewhere down the line.
So it might be the best thing you can do to help yourself through this is admit that you are feeling a little bitter and resentful about your options and your stuckness with them.
Once you've been honest with yourself (and your husband, if your opinion differs from the one you shared with him), you'll be in a better position to assess those options.
Specifically, you want to look at this as a six-year plan, including better use of your career training, attention to your loans and possibly having children.
Your colleagues at the job you loved might be a good resource for you here. What range of things do people do for that organization? What do people do when they leave it — do they go into related fields, get into business for themselves, become consultants . . . ?
In the meantime, pull your husband into the issue of your student loans. Find out just how much you have to make to tame them. You've come through for him; now let him come through for you.
Put together creative ideas + firm minimum of money needs and see whether that = happier/more flexible work for you. If you can't move forward, think laterally, or charitably, or just-a-lark-y.
There are few glooms a sense of purpose can't cut through.
To keep the sadness for yourself at bay in the meantime (it's normal, but terribly counterproductive), try to think of some way to redirect yourself whenever you indulge in self-pity.
Run a mile?
Call a lonely relative?
Clean out a drawer/closet/box you never unpacked?
Whether you face blank days or a clean slate is something you largely control.