ESPERAR for December

What better way to start the final month of the year, as we look ahead to 2012, than with this inspiring tattoo story from K. The organization that she now works for is one I've long-admired, too, and it took remarkable courage and optimism to make the leap.

In January 2010, at age 36, I decided that within the year, I would leave the very good and very well-paid job I’d held for six years to do something that felt more personally satisfying. That spring, I received an offer for a position with a non-profit I’d long admired. I had to first figure out if I could actually live on the salary they offered (two-thirds less than my current salary) and if making this move would compromise the career I’d worked hard to build over ten years. I was also in a nine-month-old relationship with a man I loved, hoping that we would move in together and then move our lives forward together. (I was, of course, very aware of my age and wanting to be able to have a child, while trying to give the relationship room to develop at a natural pace.) My boyfriend was not yet ready to move in together and while I knew that he loved me and I had faith in our relationship, it was hard not to worry, given the new professional and financial pressure this job change would bring.

I spent a lot of time worrying -- Was I making the right move professionally? Would I be able to survive on two-thirds of my income? What if my relationship didn’t work out? Was I making myself too dependent on a man who hadn’t yet made a full commitment to me and us? I knew that worrying was not going to help and that I needed to follow my desire to find more personally fulfilling and gratifying work and have faith in my relationship and in my ability to make everything work, regardless of what happened. In trying to calm myself, I often thought of the Spanish word “esperar” which has an amazing (and seemingly contradictory) set of meanings: to wait; to hope; and to expect. I found peace in the idea that, rather than worry, I could instead wait, hope and expect that the things I wanted would happen. I had to be patient, yes, but I could be patient while also hoping and, on some deeper level, knowing that the things that I wanted (a fulfilling job and relationship) would, in time, be mine.

I finally made the leap and accepted the job offer. I had seen and loved Mara’s work and reached out to her. She was able to turn around my request in very short order and on the first Monday of my two week break between jobs, I got the tattoo done by the very talented Bart Bingham at New York Adorned.

It is almost a year from my initial vow that I would leave my old job and I am seven months into a job working for an organization that does amazing things for some of the most desperate among us, and three months in to living with the most loving, generous and kind partner I could have imagined. It was all worth waiting and hoping for and I am glad that I knew enough to expect that all this could be mine.

Let's re-read that last line, shall we, and make it a motto for December, this very "esperar-y" month.