Monday, July 2, 2012

On excuses

It's around 3 p.m. on a Monday, and I have just gotten back to my desk, after finishing a third-round interview to become an admissions counselor at a perfectly lovely university. Throughout this interview, the man I'm speaking with says things like "You're our girl" and "We just need to work out the final details" and "We've been having some great conversations about you in our office."

I feel vaguely ill. I am almost positive I will get an offer from them. I try to be excited--beautiful campus! wonderful co-workers, who were so helpful when my car broke down at my second interview! a 401(k)! dental insurance! barbeque on the daily, since it's in Carolina!--as I open my email.

And there it is. An automated email from, offering me a place in Spain's North American Language and Cultural Assistants program.

I read the email. I get up, lock myself in my bathroom, and cry. I don't see a way that I can make this work financially, due to some recent emergency expenses, including a major repair on my car. I resign myself to declining my spot--someone else can go to Spain in my place, someone with a $0 balance on her credit card, no reservations, and no 40-pound Siberian Husky to fly over.

But I'm miserable. I'm still miserable when my phone rings around 5. It's the university. My stomach flips over, and I send the call to voice-mail.

And then, over the course of the night, I realize (or several people slap me up side the head until they make me realize) what an awful attitude this is. One of the things that struck me most was said on a website for professional women, on whose mercy I had thrown myself for guidance: "Don't let your car be an excuse." This might seem super, super insignificant, but for whatever reason, that illuminated the filaments of my mental light-bulb. Don't make excuses. Don't let four tires hooked up to a metal box keep me from pursuing something I care deeply about. Don't let the balance in my IRA do it, either, or the fact that I adopted a dog. If I want to take the job at the university--fine. Retirement accounts, financial security, this stuff is important to me, too. But don't make excuses for it.

The next morning, I accepted my place in Galicia, emailed the university to withdraw my application, and started researching everything from visa requirements to what kind of microchip my dog needs to get. (In addition to being a personal finance nerd, I am also extremely Type A. In case you couldn't figure that out.) And I was thrilled! Sure, parts of me still have reservations--Spain's economy is, you know, falling off a cliff and stuff, so I'm still battling paranoia that the program will be canceled in October or something--but none of them would have been as excited about strategizing for my recruitment territory.

So let's do this thing.


  1. Hello!

    I just found your blog and decided to send a message out of the blue to say that I'm so happy for you! I lived in Galicia last year and LOVED it and know that you will love it, but I'm also really excited that you made it there WITH YOUR DOG. I love dogs but am always struggling with the idea of commitment as I move around a lot, so I'm really proud of you for making it work! Have fun out there!

  2. Hi! Thanks so much :) Galicia is the best. Period. Full stop. I love it (and I don't even live in an allegedly cool part).

    Having the pup has definitely added a new dimension to my time here. (And a whole other list of bureaucratic headaches, ugh.) Getting her here was no cakewalk, but it was absolutely, 100% worth it. So I say, if you want a furball, you should go for it! It may make some things more difficult, but the joy of having a pup outweighs all of 'em.