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“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” –Erica Jong

My decision to forgo all anonymity means I’ve given up the ability to be as open as I’d like about certain situations. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still express some of the effects.

Over the past year, I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster. Each time I’m on an upswing, life is great. Then comes the downswing, and immediately I run to a select few friends. I tell them all the messed up things that happend and how angry and shocked I am. At first, they’re equally shocked and angry with me. They commiserate, giving me all the advice I need to hear.

But then, without taking their advice, I’m back on an upswing again and I barely remember the down. Convinced everything fixed itself, I’m back on my merry way. Inevitably, the downswing comes back and I run back to my friends. By now they’re used to it, and though they’re still there for me, the shock factor has somewhat faded.

I’d be willing to bet we’ve all been in situations like this. We run to our friends (bless them) with our problems, in which they tell us exactly what we need to hear: dump him/her, get a new job, move out, etc. It’s reassuring to hear them say this, because it often backs our intuitive instinct. But throw emotions in the mix and the right answer is not always easy to follow.  So when’s the breaking point? When do we finally get off the ride and give in to the advice we know we should follow?

Profile of Time

Profile of Time

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. –Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)

It is said that Salvador Dali would hold a spoon above a plate just as he was about to sleep. As he began to doze off, the spoon would clatter onto the plate and wake him, allowing him to vividly recall the dreamy state between the conscious and unconscious.

Dali’s story was told to me in 8th grade Spanish class. While I can’t remember many of my bilingual skills, this lesson stuck. I found him facinating. I’m sure I’m not alone, as Dali is a world-famous artist. But the principles and ideas behind his work seem just as intriguing as his visual arts.

We all try so hard to live up to expectations. Whether they are our own expectations, or the expectations of our parents, our bosses, our friends or lovers. What if we pushed those aside and started following our own path? Dali’s method was radical and probably seemed a little crazy. But look what he was able to achieve. If we stop thinking about perfection and just took shots in the dark, who knows where we might land.

“Getting fired is nature’s way to telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place.”
Hal Lancaster, in The Wall Street Journal

OK, so I didn’t get fired. It was more like I quit with a lot of resentment and a small severance package. But somehow, it felt the same. I was waiting for a big promotion at a magazine editing job after my current position was moved to another state. When it came, it was saddled with an insulting salary that was already causing my credit card debt to max. No room for negotiation; they absolutely would not work with me.

At first, it was deflating. I could barely afford to live, and the stress was sickening. But there was something else that bothered me.  For some reason, I felt like it was more than the actual numbers. When a company offers you a salary, it’s almost a reflection of what you’re worth to them. And working with you on negotiation should show how much they value you.

I didn’t ask for much. It was actually less than the lay-off severance package they ended up giving me. All I needed was a little room for discussion. Any indication that they valued me and I would have tried to make it work.

But as Lancaster said, it was probably natures way of telling me I was in the wrong job. That next week I started working for a commodities broker. It may not have been the dream job I moved to California for, but environment plays a big factor in job satisfaction. And now I’m able to learn new skills and start challenging myself, which are more ways to find satisfaction. Best of all, I now work for a boss that believes in me as much as I believe in myself. I wouldn’t work for any less.