It’s a time of new beginnings in the Gardner household. Spring is in the air, and as it begins to warm up – more gradually than we would like – Chicago is emerging out of hibernation, us included. We’ve finally been able to take advantage of more sunny days, including going on bike rides with Miles.
But the biggest reason for our new found buoyancy: Caroline has found a new job she loves, one that has many implications for our family’s future. I don’t want to reveal too many details here, but let’s just say that this job has long-term positive implications for Miles (and any subsequent children we may have) and for our family. We’ve been working on this for months, and now that she’s finally secured it, and we couldn’t be happier.
But because her new job affects our current and future children, it dawned on us that she is basically setting herself up to be at this job for the next 18-20 years. Which means we’ve set ourselves up to be in Chicago for at least the next 18-20 years. And that feels heavy.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Chicago. And I am very confident that Caroline will be happy in her new position long-term. But it used to feel like if an opportunity came up that wanted to lure us away from Chicago, we’d at least consider it. Now it’s not even an option. That’s how good this job of hers is.
At first I found this realization stifling, in a very my-generation sort of way. You mean I’m stuck in the same place for at least two decades? Can someone turn down the heat on this pressure cooker?
Then I realized that this choice we made is the same choice we’ve been making. It’s the same choice we made when we decided to get married at a young age. It’s the choice we made when we decided to be one of the first out of our friends to have kids. It’s stability over versatility, commitment over freedom of choice.
When looked at in this light, I actually found it kind of freeing. It reminds me of this great TED talk I recently heard about the “Paradox of Choice” (embedded below for your enjoyment). It’s basic premise: too many choices have made us less happy, not more. By that logic, the constraints we’ve placed on our life should actually help us be more content. And that’s exciting.
I highly encourage you to check out this video. Definitely worth your time.
What do you think? Are we crazy for locking ourselves into such a long-term commitment? Would you feel stifled?