Compromises and New Beginnings: Part One

expat issues
I know now that when I agreed to make this move, I did not realize all of the compromises that I was going to make.


By calling them “compromises,” the last thing I want to suggest is that there is a tally in the “somebody owes me something for what I gave up” side of the ledger. We make compromises for any decision that we make in our lives. We give things up. We get things. It doesn’t come out evenly. We move forward. Life is not a balance sheet (well, maybe one of those cockamamie Enron balance sheets …).


This week, I am facing down the career compromise I’ve made to be here. I spent the better part of my adult life pursuing what you might call an arcane career. I devoted considerable time and money securing an advanced degree in said career. I did not pursue more profitable job paths because I was on a solitary mission. In the U.S., there are just enough jobs in said career that I knew I’d have a steady working life. And, I love my career. I’m good at it, too. It’s an encompassing passion job.


This is my quintessential grad school photo.


In Australia, however, there is just no call for my job. I made rounds when I arrived and found out that most everyone thought I had a lovely resume, but that there was no work in my field. I mean to say that there is one position like mine in the entire country, and the owner of that job is perfectly content to stay where she is.


I am a horseshoe maker in the middle of Detroit.


Last month, a second job in my field was created. I was elated, and threw myself into crafting what I considered the most informed and thorough application that could exist. Since there are virtually no other people working full-time in my field and no educational programs for it in this country, I was certain that I’d be a contender. And then, I got the form letter that I would not even be granted an interview. Perhaps they’d already slated the position for someone from within. Or, maybe they actually didn’t want someone with so much pre-existing experience/baggage. Or, perhaps they didn’t want an American with imperialist ideas and no knowledge of the local scene. I can’t say. All I know is that another one of these jobs won’t come up again anytime soon; so I’m now shifting gears to some new career …


I don’t know what that career is. At first I was being picky, looking for meaningful, fulfilling work that, in some abstract way, related to my passion. Then, I started looking for jobs that sounded boring, but like they’d give me freedom to do what I wanted in ample free time. Now, I’m looking for anything at all.


I’m getting nowhere. My resume just doesn’t look right to anyone. I don’t have specific enough experience for the exciting jobs, I don’t have the right experience for the good jobs, and I have too much experience in the wrong field for the menial jobs.


I hate burying my master’s degree that I worked so hard to achieve at the bottom of my resume, and putting my job at Wal Mart on top (not that there’s anything wrong with working at Wal Mart – I loved my job there – it’s just not my top-of-the-resume proudest accomplishment).  I hate giving up my dream job.


Listen, I know that this post is a full on whinge-fest; so, I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t see the silver lining ahead. I know that, in the long run, this is my chance to branch out and apply my skills to a new adventure that I never would have found if I’d stayed at home.


As if a sign from the universe to remind me of this, I was randomly picking out podcasts, as I filled out my zillionith retail/stock-girl application yesterday, and I found a story from The Moth by a painter who, at the top of his career, lost five years worth of work in a gallery fire. He reached his lowest point, and then completely changed gears, wrote a novel, and started creating completely different art. He’s happy, and moreover, recognizes the great fortune of all that he has. I know that I will get to that place – I have confidence that I am smart, creative, and full of skills that will serve me well; but right now, I’m staring down the ashes of my metaphorical paintings.


I’m in the middle of my triumphant remaking story, wondering what the happy ending will be.

5 thoughts on “Compromises and New Beginnings: Part One

  1. Melody

    You have a great way of pulling readers into your writing. I read and was a little anxious… and very caught up in your plight. “What will she do???!”

    The empathetic one that lives within me really feels for you, and all your hard work seemingly now going to waste. The Pollyanna that lives within me wants you to go off and create an amazing, remarkable, spectacular new path that opens up adventures like you never would have imagined. (Or at least find a new job you really like. That wouldn’t be bad, either.)

  2. lilDdownunder

    C-I know how you’re feeling. I even got my degree here in Australia but struggled to find a place that would even give me a shot with a few substitute teaching days. Last year I was in your shoes for the whole year and it was frustrating and disheartening. Like you, I put in applications to all sorts of grocery stores and shops at the mall and didn’t hear back from a single one. It seems like in Aus it is all about knowing someone or getting your foot in the door somewhere and then you are set, it’s just getting your foot in the door that is the hard part. I finally found a job-it’s not my dream job and I’m certainly not using my degree (which my parents are bummed about since they’d spent all that money for me to be here and study for 4 years) but I’m thankful that it’s a job, any job, and the good thing about Aus is that no matter where you are working, you are not going to be making $8 minimum wage as you would in the States. I make about 3 times that and I’m just at a call center. I know we have one in Sydney and we keep hiring up at ours so Sydney probably is, too. Send me a message with your email and I’ll give you some info if you’d like. Sorry for the mini-novel on your comments page!

  3. C. In Oz

    @Kelli – Yeah, I just don’t have it in me to write a real bitch fest, I think. 😉

    @Melody – thank you. What a lovely compliment!

    @D – I remember you writing about how hard it was for you to find a job, and I have to tell you that it’s actually made this a bit easier for me, knowing that I’m not alone in having a hard time getting my foot in any door. I’ll send you a message with my e-mail – would love the info on your company!

    @Tui – Thanks. I said that Detroit line to an Aussie, but I’m not sure that the metaphor quite translates to the Australians. 😉

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