Five years ago, my grandfather died.  May 30, 2005.  I was heartbroken.

At the time, I was working 2 jobs and getting ready to go back to school.  I took a hiatus from my part time gig so I could take a summer class, and also because I knew my grandfather was very sick and I wanted the extra time to spend with him.  My part-time gig, Borders Books and Music, was really fantastic about the whole thing.   For my day job, I worked for a small publishing firm proofreading accounting manuals.  It was awfully boring and unfulfilling, but it paid the bills and was a decent “stopgap” before going back to school. More often than not, I didn’t have enough work to fill the day, and there was a possibility I could stay on full time for at least a portion of my first semester, as on slow days I could do schoolwork at the office.

I knew Grandpa was very sick, and I specifically asked for the company policy regarding bereavement leave, and specified to my boss why I was asking.  She told me we got three days.  I took note of this, as I knew I was going to need time to process it once it happened.  Proofreading accounting manuals is mind-numbing on a good day; if I was grief-stricken, I knew I would be of no use to anyone.  Grandpa died over a holiday weekend, so I decided to take my three days of bereavement and a personal day for the fourth, so I could have the full week.

When I returned, I found out that it had actually been a very busy week.  This wasn’t something anyone had necessarily anticipated, though even if it was, it certainly was not as if I could control my Grandpa’s passing.  Believe me, if I could, I would rather he survived and I went to work that week.  Yet, my boss was a bit vengeful about my taking my leave that week, and told me, upon my return, that she “was confused”, and I was ineligible for bereavement leave since grandparents did not qualify as immediate family in their company policy.

It was crap.  I was so angry I could barely see straight.  I wanted to walk out right there.  I was going back to school anyway, I didn’t really need that job.  But, I didn’t.  I swallowed my rage, sat down, and quit at the end of August, thinking I really stuck it to them, since I would have otherwise stayed until November.  But, who was I kidding

I may be faced with another decision that will require a major gut check.  This one, fortunately, is nothing like the situation I faced five years ago.  On the contrary, it’s very good.  It’s exciting, a bit scary, and I have no idea what the final outcome will be.  I’m actually OK with this, in part, because I know that my “worst case scenario” is the status quo, and the status quo is not a bad place to be.  The unknown, is what the best case scenario would be.  Obviously the status quo is not an unknown.  It is comfortable and cozy, and I would be content to keep things as such.  However, the unknown holds both an allure and scares me to death.

I’m not sure I want to dive into something unknown,  though I’m not entirely sure why.  I have valid, specific reasons for my apprehension, however I honestly don’t think those valid reasons are what is causing my apprehension, but rather convenient excuses.  I’ve never been as good at taking big risks as I like to pretend to be.  If I was, I would have walked out of that toxic workplace  five years ago with my head held high (which, by the way, my former boss had proven toxic in a variety of other scenarios, it was just that which was the last straw).   There’s a part of me that likes to stay in the cozy comfortable “known” realm, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing.  However, it certainly can be a stifling thing.

Part of what is so great about C, is that he is so supportive of my goals.  He would have supported me if I wanted to walk out of that office five years ago.  In fact, he would have encouraged it.  He’s vowed support in whatever I decide, provided that I make the decision for the right reasons. That, too, can sometimes be tricky.  How do you know if it is for the right reasons?

I think, though, it’s often more obvious than we realize. If you follow your heart, I don’t think you regret your decisions.  They may not be the right decisions, in the end, but you don’t regret them.  To this day, I regret not walking out of my old job, even though it did no damage for me to stay … if anything, leaving would have potentially done more damage to me, in the short term.  But, I didn’t follow my heart, and that in itself is a regret.