Yesterday as I was driving about doing errands I heard part of The Dave Ramsey program in which a wife was discussing her husband and a friend’s desire to go into business together. Dave’s attempt was to encourage her that while the two of them might help one another, the idea that both of them should ignore the advice of others and continue on represented more of an act of selfishness or neediness on their part than a real business opportunity.
Suddenly I was swept away back to a day in February a long time ago when I made the decision to stop what I was doing and go to The Firm. All of a sudden, as if the final pieces of a lock were sliding into place, I realized the last aspect of what I had done which I had never realized before: it represented the ultimate act of selfishness.
Going to The Firm was ultimately about me. It was about my needs – not so much the state of my life (yes, the commute was terrible, but otherwise everything was okay) as the need for me to be my own person. To be in control of myself. To satisfy myself. Perhaps even to shortcut years of plodding along to leap to the head of the line.
What did it cost? Well, we are still continuing to recover from that particular decision. Costs include (in no particular order):
- Being 12 years paid off on our mortgage instead of not owning a home and having lost our investment.
- A cash count from borrowing money other places to supplement the money I never realized.
- Ultimately (perhaps) moving; certainly an argument could be made that the past seven years would look very different careerwise.
- A fair amount of personal and relational stress as things slid downhill.
- At least one friendship.
Was the cost of being my own person, of indulging my penchant for not being under the thumb of another and “doing my own thing” worth it based on these numbers?
And what does this mean for the future? It’s a poorly concealed fact that I don’t really embrace that which I have continued to make my vocation – both where I am as well as what I am doing. And somewhere deep within me (still) is the need to start something of my own, to be in control. But at what cost?
I cannot allow the desires and perceived needs of my own psyche to put my family at risk again. Even if that means plodding for another 20 years, it is not a thing that can ever be allowed to happen again.
Sometimes we tend to put a fine covering on painful memories to prevent that reality of what caused them from coming to the surface. The sad part is it prevents us from learning all the lessons that we might gain from them.
Yes, The Firm made me grow. It also cost me a great deal of financial security and ultimately freedom. Was it worth it to make myself feel in control?