Should I Settle For Less Than I Think I Deserve?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost

With the thinking that, given how long I’ve been unemployed/out of work and the fact that I have bills and loans to pay, I shouldn’t be picky about the type of jobs I apply to. I could focus on getting any regular job (read that: it doesn’t have to be related to my degree) so I’m making money while I still search for my dream job. Although I’m not entirely sure what that dream job looks like or what the title would be, I know that it would be with a global health organization that supports low- and middle-income countries to develop their health care systems in order to be able to provide quality health care to every single person who needs it. This support can take several forms such as creating and implementing programs, research, funding existing programs in a partnership and with an emphasis on sustainability and capacity building. Something like that.

Naturally, I’ve been spending my time and efforts during my job search to make my dream into a reality. On some days however, I wonder if I should listen to those who have encouraged me to focus on getting something that pays now and put the search for my dream job on hold, at least until things settle down. That is practical advice. Instead of spending all this time trying to find and apply to this elusive dream job, I could be working and making money and paying off my debts. Besides, what’s the guarantee that when I do find this said job that I would be hired. Who knows, the best I might get is a lower level (possibly unpaid) position at said global health organization (get my foot in the door, so to speak) and then work my way up to where I see myself.    This has been one of the challenges I’ve faced during my job search and I’m sure there are people out there who can identify with this on some level. Feeling torn between going hard after your dream and doing everything in your power to see it become a reality or settling just to relieve yourself of the pressure that comes with being unemployed with responsibilities. I have always pursued my dreams with dogged determination no matter the obstacles that were in my way. Getting my MPH (Master’s in Public Health), for instance. It was after the fourth year of applying that I was finally able to enrol in a program. This was not because I wasn’t getting accepted to programs, but I had no way to pay for it until some guardian angels showed up in the form of co-signers of my student loans.  I was working during that time period and was making a decent amount of money (life was pretty good) but there was always something missing. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I needed that degree to be able to get a chance, so I kept at it. It took a long time, it was a lot of work, there were disappointments, frustrations, tears but it eventually worked out.

Given this past experience, I can’t help but face this new task of finding and getting this dream job with the same resolve. There are days when I just want to find something, anything, as long as it makes some use of my skills and pays well and call it good and maybe find an outlet for my passions (i.e. volunteering with the same organization I would love to work for).  On those days, I try to convince myself it doesn’t matter where I work or what I do as long as I can make an impact in my little corner; I tell myself I expect too much, I’m aiming too high, I should be more practical. But then I realize that until those dreams become a reality, I won’t have peace, it would always feel as if there was something missing, there will be no sense of fulfilment and I would probably be miserable. I’m not saying that by focusing on getting that regular job that I would be stuck there, after all the idea is that you’re making money while you still purse that dream job. But let’s be honest, it’s very easy for that thing that was supposed to be temporary to become permanent – you establish a pattern, you get comfortable, you think “oh, this is not so bad”. I don’t want that to be my story. I think I owe it to myself and to everyone who has supported me and made sacrifices for me to get to where I am to keep chasing my dreams. And I have faith that it’s only a matter of time before I see my dreams become a reality.

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