If I could work anywhere, I’d choose the city over the suburbs. I’d ditch the car, the commute, the highway, the traffic, the detours for construction, the slow downs from rain, the rubberneckers at accidents. I’d walk out the front door, take the bus to the train (or maybe even walk when the weather is nice). I’d ditch the expansive office park with hundreds of parking spots for the hustle on the streets below the crowded towers above. I’d schedule lunch dates with girlfriends and meet my husband and our friends for happy hour drinks.
If I could do anything, I’d ditch the quiet hours I spend working alone in favor of working closely with others. We’d gather in glass meeting rooms, teleconference our mates from other cities, meet clients at their offices and celebrate landing new clients over the competition. I’d have choice in mentors, earn raises and promotions from my hard work, and have the opportunity to change directions without changing corporate logos. My professional network would be expansive, growing with each networking event and conference I attend. There’d be water cooler talk, NCAA office pools, work parties around the holidays and special trips to the partners’ vacation homes.
I know what you’re thinking.If I want this dream badly enough, I certainly can make it my new reality. And you’d be right. It’s not a far cry from where I currently stand. But, before I venture off on a dream-catching adventure, I’m reminded about my reality today. The one where I do work in an expansive suburban office park, but only two days a week, working in sweat pants from home the other days. The one where I set my hours, can leave for a doctor’s appointment or a sick child and my bosses don’t mind. The one where I can begin and end my work day early to avoid the worst traffic. The one where I have a lot of autonomy to achieve milestones in whatever way I see fit, without supervisors or co-workers watching over me. The one that might not offer very much upward mobility, but the one where my bosses take care of me through bonuses and more importantly, through understanding and a flexibility unseen under any other logo.
And that’s the moment I realize my life is a good one. I might not have it all (professionally), but maybe having all isn’t exactly what I want. Catching that professional dream would mean personal sacrifice. It’d mean missed dinners with my family, stress over taking time for a sick child and little time to pursue personal interests. Sure, plenty of people manage to balance their lives with demanding careers, but I think I have found a career that balances with the demands of my life. Maybe I’m living the dream after all.