My partner and I piled lake rocks to make a fire ring as our golden retriever fetched sticks from the water. I popped the cork of a riesling we bought on our last Finger Lakes wine tour and poured it into plastic cups. The brilliant red sun was setting, just as it does every night, predictably and comfortably to the west. Sitting in old Adirondack chairs, we watched it disappear into a blanket of stars, the beach lit only by our crackling fire. We exchanged a look that said, “It doesn’t get much better than this,” and clinked our glasses.
For the first time since I left the place where I grew up, I felt like I was home. It’s been two years since we bought our house, and we are finally beginning to put art on our walls. New friends have been over for backyard barbecues. Our newly planted blueberry bushes are putting down roots, and so are we.
Over the years, though, I have been conditioned for transience. Always be searching for your next career opportunity. Move on to move up. Don’t settle or settle down. Staying put is for the unmotivated. With the best of intentions, these are the mantras of our industry.
So when I started to get tapped for new career opportunities, I immediately started imagining my life somewhere else.
Somewhere without the coworkers I’ve grown to love. Somewhere without the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Somewhere without the sound of Lake Ontario waves lapping on the shore. Somewhere without art on my walls or blueberry bushes in my yard.
It feels so good to be wanted and it is impossibly difficult to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And while I want my career to keep evolving, what I want most is to come home at the end of each work day.
Not to a house. But to a home.
I want you to know that it takes courage to stay. To bravely say “not yet” to your career and to say “yes, right now” to your life. You certainly don’t need to apologize, justify, or feel guilty for your choices. They are yours to make and to enjoy.
Staying, while it’s the unpopular choice, it can be the best one you make. I was reminded of this as I cruised down a lake-side road, wind in my hair, Zac Brown singing “Homegrown” on the radio, the sun setting predictably and comfortably to the west.
“It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want. I got everything I need, nothing that I don’t.” – Zac Brown Band