24 October 2009

Who I've Become...

This fall has been busy and full of some pretty significant changes (all good ones!). The big one is that we just bought our first home - a townhouse in the "straight-up thug town of Arlington" (cue "Arlington Rap Video" from YouTube). This townhouse has exceeded all of our hopes, in terms of space (three floors!), nice interior (remodeled top-to-bottom, hardwood floors, gorgeous kitchen!), plenty of storage (closets galore!), and location (ARLINGTON! On the bike path!! 3 miles from the Pentagon!!!). And it was within our target price range. AND we get the $8,000 tax break. We are pretty lucky with this awesome find. We close on 13 Nov and move in on 14 Nov (which happens to be five years, almost to the day, of Mark and my first date - 12 Nov 2004).
Also right around that time is when I have a pretty significant change of my very own - I start my new job on 16 Nov. I've been with my current company for five years (which is pretty much forever your entire career when you are only 28). I started off as an admin assistant back in July 2004. I was so, so, SO young and immature. I didn't know who I was, I didn't have much direction, no planned career path, and going out on nights and weekends was pretty much my biggest priority. I lived in a group house (any house that has mushrooms growing out of the basement carpet earns the title Grossest House Ever), with six crazy roommates (kid you not, there was excessive amounts of emotional instability in that house), and I didn't really have a hobby and I wasn't in grad school. I had oodles of free time on my hands and I did NOTHING constructive with it. I saw the admin job as a temporary thing (which it was), a way to get my foot in the door on my way to bigger and better things. Within two years I was promoted up to an analyst position and working at the Pentagon. I quickly learned that this new position was just a glorified admin position; I gutted it out for about two years, and found another job within the company in Crystal City as an ACTUAL analyst. When I took it, I thought, "this is what I have worked three and a half years for, something that involves actual analytical work, writing, reading documents, making a difference." And it was all of those things... but I realized that the subject matter wasn't for me, I didn't click with it, and it was likely that I was going to need to make a total career change to find something more in line with my interests.

About three years into working at this company, I finally started my Masters in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University. I loved my classes - they were challenging, opened my eyes to a completely different way to see the world, and I discovered how much I liked various topics within the Peace and Conflict and Development fields (human rights, issues facing youth and children in the developing world). I snagged an opportunity to go to Nepal for three weeks this past summer. I would complain about the time I would have to devote to writing papers, but I secretly enjoyed researching and writing about Youth and Sports in development, the resource curse of Sierra Leone, child marriage in Egypt, etc. I was finally starting to feel really educated! Everything I was studying was so different from the security and defense world I was working in... and I really preferred what I was studying.

So yesterday I gave my notice at work. I start working at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc on 16 Nov (day three in our new house!). Even though I'm excited about this new job and the new opportunities for learning and growth it will present me, in a field I am really interested in, it was still sad and bittersweet to realize I'm leaving the company that gave me my first grown-up job. It's also the place where I met my husband. I have made some really great friends there. I'm going to miss sharing an office with Aaron - it's going to be strange and rather lonely to have an office all to myself. And the people I currently work with are all super intelligent, driven, yet fun, helpful, and truly a team. I've never been part of such a cohesive, strong, fun group of co-workers and I don't know if I'll ever find that again.

Anyways, I've become a different person from that 22-year-old that was hired back in July 2004. I'm more mature, much more comfortable with the person I am, more confident, happy, and I'm really excited for the future. I am a triathlete, I'm going to have my Master's Degree in a couple short months, I've run 10 marathons (including two Bostons), I have a great marriage to the most understanding and supportive guy in the world, I've finally figured out how to get my curly hair under control, and I'm thinking about starting my PhD next fall in Conflict Resolution.

In training and triathlon news - I've actually done ALL of my workouts so far this week on the days that they were scheduled (except I swapped days for this weekends long run/long ride). All that's left is my long run tomorrow morning, which I will do while being a Spectathlete at Mark's first marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon!

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