After Pastry School – The Scales of Career Change Justice

I had intended this week’s pastry post to be all about food & social media.  It is a huge, fun topic and the post is in progress.  I’m really looking forward to bringing all my thoughts together, along with sharing some of my favorite people/businesses/organizations to follow.  But something has been on my mind a lot the past week or so, as school fades into the background, the halfway point of my internship is looming and the fall is fast approaching, bringing some big decision points for me, and Sam.  Where I am going to work? What I am going to be doing for work? What improvements are we going to do to the house pre-sale? Where do we want to live?  And those are just the bigger decisions!  Leaving the corporate world, going to pastry school, getting an apartment in the city and working in the food industry… These things have brought so many changes to my life.

scales of justice

There have been pluses, there have been minuses.  I’m not quite ready to make a definitive proclamation as to whether the decisions I’ve made and the timing of them were 100% the right move. I do know that what I was doing wasn’t making me happy and that the education and experiences I have gained in the past six months are invaluable to me, personally and professionally.

The Pros

– Becoming much more confident in the kitchen. Making pastries and baked goods that had intimated me in the past with nothing more than a passing thought and terrific sense of satisfaction when I share them with friends, family and (Sam’s) coworkers.

– Learning the basics, and beyond, of baking and pastry at a small culinary school that suited my needs and personality perfectly.

– Meeting so many genuinely nice and passionate chefs, pastry chefs and follow pastry chefs in training. Not to mention some of the hardest working dishwashers, prep cooks and line cooks in the Boston area.  I feel like I’ve made some amazing connections and wonderful friends.  These are my people.

– Enjoying the wonders of living in the city; live music, great food, beautiful parks, public transit, food delivery that isn’t pizza or sub-par Chinese.

– Shorter commute time that allows me to work, blog, bake and simply live at a more manageable, sane pace.

– Distance from, and perspective on, the events of the past five years including the deaths of my mother and my fur baby Seamus, putting a lucrative finance career on hold, Sam changing jobs, getting closer to 40.  Being able to see the future and its infinite possibilities a bit more clearly and with a sense of joy and anticipation versus panic and sadness.

– Working for people who have renewed my faith in the workplace.  I remember the early days of my finance career very fondly; the learning, my mentors, the camaraderie. I lost that along the way in making some poor decisions (hindsight is always so helpfully 20/20) and working for some really horrible/crazy people.  I’ve had the opportunity to explore a new career and the good fortune to return to an environment of learning and teamwork.  Yay!

The Cons

– Living between two places is much more challenging than we had imagined. Things are forgotten and/or never at the right place.

– Confronting the reality that your energy level at 38 is so much lower than it was at 28.  I can work just as hard, almost as fast and for just as long, but the recovery time is longer, a lot longer.  And forget about drinking on “school nights”.

– Money, or lack thereof.  Without children and two careers Sam & I enjoyed what I would describe as a comfortable lifestyle.  We always brought coffee and lunch to work, ate most meals at home and didn’t buy a lot of “stuff”. We did however do a fair amount of travel (Paris, Grand Canyon, Mexico, CA, Jamaica, Aruba, London, Maine, Nantucket), bought nicer clothes and spent what we wanted on food, drink and things like hair cuts and manicures.  FULL STOP once I went back to school.  No trips are happening unless it’s on the Orange line.  No clothes except a few replacement pieces for Sam, from the outlets, and a couple of t-shirts on clearance for me.  We still go out to eat, but we do our drinking at home and I now get my hair cut at the Hair Cuttery in Assembly Row – great cut, great deal.  I am pretty sure the following brands/stores are suffering greatly

We also aren’t able to be as generous as we would like, or have been in the past, with gifts.  This is not to say that many people don’t live happily on less, it’s just a huge adjustment.  We spent many years, and thousands of dollars we’re still repaying, on undergrad and graduate degrees, worked long hours and made sacrifices for our careers.  We enjoyed the fruits of our labors.  I enjoy them even more now that the effort to dollar yield is that much lower.  And Saint Sam continues to fight the good fight in the corporate arena while I pursue my culinary adventure.

– The noise.  The city is loud.  LOUD. Our house in Gloucester is so quiet.  There is noise everywhere in my life.  On the T. In the apartment.  In the kitchen at work.  I feel like the Grinch listening to the Whos in Whoville at Christmas.

– Not being able to jump in my Jeep, turn on my music and run errands effortlessly.  Schlepping on the T or paying for an Uber to go to CVS seems insurmountable at times.

Looking at the pros and cons, I think the pros come out on top, by far.  The cons, aside from missing my preppy, DINK lifestyle, are pretty minor and things that I could come to live with.  Earplugs help, as would learning how to drive in the city.   After putting “pen to paper” with this post I’m feeling pretty darn good about my decisions and better about approaching what comes next, including deciding not to rush into anything and let the good things come to me.

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