Goodness, it is a small world out there. Particularly in my line of work. This has been really evident during the FOUR job interviews that I have been on in the last month+. I'm not complaining - no, really, I'm not. But it's kind of hilarious to realize that I have only really been in this part of my profession for...not quite 9 years? Actually - not even that. Let's go with 7 ish years. And I knew someone at every single one of these Universities. Now, that may be partly because I chose these places knowing that someone I know (and, generally, like) is already working there. Who better to give me the lowdown on what is actually happening there? But it was still kind of funny.
Also - people tend to know other people in my line of work (e.g., "Oh, I know [your advisor]! Please say hi when you get back home!). This should not surprise me - but it also serves as a reminder to a) never act like a jerk (not too difficult, I hope...) and b) never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, if I can help it, should I burn a professional bridge. And I do mean Never. Ever.
So, now I am juggling all of these options and trying to make a decision and making spreadsheets and pro/con lists and even lists of the intangibles, which, my God, who does that? I already have the gut feeling it will come down to choice A or choice B...but I need to get there in a couple ways - by going through the data, and by exploring how I felt when I interviewed at each place.
The problem is this - I know I could do great work both places. I know I would work with wonderful people. I know I would advance in my field. But choice B (which happens to be my alma mater) is just a little bit more than choice A. Choice A (which happens to be my current location) is a great school - but it's just a smidgen 'below' choice B on the ladder of most-influential-and-scary-places-to-do-good work. Also? Choice B - I would be one of the only people in my specialty. Choice A? I'd be (at least for the time being) with a group focused on that topic, and I would be one member of a team.
I've been likening choice A to a pair of yoga pants. They may not be perfect, but boy, are they comfortable. And they fit. And they flatter nearly everyone. And did I say that they're comfortable?
Choice B is like make up and high heels. Every day. Have I mentioned that I am *not* a makeup person in my personal life? My husband would laugh his head off if I characterized myself as such. But in my professional life? With all the weight that carries? Do I want to be at the place that forces me to be a little better than what I would be on my own? Do I (as an adviser said) go to the place where I can do the best science? or do I go to the place where I feel comfortable and happy?
AUGH...the choices. And this is just my opinion! Imagine how much fun this will be when my husband finally returns from overseas (work trip) and we sit down to work through this together.
I suspect lots of wine will be consumed.
The other aspect of all of this that I haven't really thought about is - that we don't have a really integrated network of friends here. So even if we went with choice A - the comfortable choice - I'm not sure how our lives here would play out in the long term.
I feel like I am constantly on the outside looking in with the people I have met since we moved here almost 2 years ago. The people I knew from before are now each other's best friends - they talk multiple times a day. I don't have the time or the patience for that -so I don't really begrudge them that. But how nice would it be to have a local best friend? Someone to meet for lunch, or shopping, or just getting out of the house? (I just typed "hose"....maybe I'm secretly Canadian?)
And I don't fit in with the neighborhood women - all married (well, I am, too) and with at least one child. Most have multiple children. And many stay home. So I don't really fit in with them, either. I mean, they're polite to me, but we have nothing in common that I can tell.
I'm not really connecting with many people on the Internets, either. In part because I am just naturally an introvert (comment on blog posts!?!?!? Why would I do that??) and in part because...well, it's more comfortable not to put myself out there.
So, I wonder. Would our lives change substantially if we stayed here? Probably not. Am I happy with that? I think I am.
Would our lives change substantially if we moved elsewhere? Probably not. We're introverts. We love each other's company. We don't mind not going out with people every 3rd weeknight and every weekend...But sometimes it gets lonely. I'm just not sure how to break out of my shell, whether it's here or elsewhere.