Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/16/2006: "Can you turn back *after* you pass the fork in the road?"

Well, I've taken the job in WA but in the meantime, my life in Juneau is better than ever. Iíve been a lot more social, accepting invitations to do things and go places nearly every night of the week. Tonight I went out to dinner with some new faculty from the Social Sciences; they have just arrived in Juneau and I found myself feeling so envious of them.

By really diving into life here lately, my attachments to Juneau have grown even stronger. I donít know if the feelings are real, or simply a side-effect of the upcoming move though. Several people have told me lately that itís better to go back on your word than to honor a committment that's really wrong for you. Iím not that kind of person though. When I give my word, thatís it, I donít go back on it. I just canít help the constant nagging doubts about my decision to leave Alaska.

Iíve been so emotional lately too; all of my feelings are mixed together so that I canít tell whatís what anymore. Normally my instincts are so spot on so Iím not used to so much second-guessing. I do know that if/when I leave, Iíll miss everything Iím leaving behind a lot more than I originally realized. My cozy little house, my boat, my tenured faculty job (over the summer I forgot how much I adore teaching) and most of all, the incredible people in my life. I keep asking myselfÖwhy? Why did I do this?

So I ask you, if you make a committment to something that has the potential of being a giant mistake, is it *always* better to see it through no matter what?

Replies: 15 Comments

on Saturday, September 16th, RR said

I think it's a mistake to be thinking the move has the "potential of being a giant mistake". I understand a little of what you're feeling - I'm not sure about my new job either BUT, we've both entered into a committment and maybe it's better to go and see what it's like before deciding it "might" not be right. I think the friends and the social life you have in Juneau sounds wonderful, but why can't your new place be wonderful too? It's you who has done all the socialising at the moment so it's important to remember that it's YOU who has made your life how good it is and I have every faith in you that you will continue to do so once you've moved.

Perhaps the next few months will be a bit of a roller-coaster for you and it's important not to expect the new place to be full of people falling over you to make friends right away. I think that was my mistake with my current job - most people are naturally a little shy or wary of "newcomers". But as I am getting ready to leave, people here have been friendlier (people who didn't realise I was going, so I don't think it's because they're glad to see me go ;) ). They're getting used to me I suppose and I think I didn't give this job long enough to find out how many friends I could have had here, but the opportunity to move onto something better came along and I grabbed it. That's what you've done, you've grabbed a chance and I think no matter how much you will be anxious about the move, the only way you're going to find out is by going to see what it's like. Give it a chance and remember you can always go back to Juneau. Having said all that, I really do understand how unsettling it must be for you, but if you don't do it, you give up the chance of ever knowing what wonderful friends you could have made.

on Saturday, September 16th, greg said

Tough call ... but I was thinking along the same lines as RR: its too early to call the future decision a bad one.

What about the positive hopes you have for the move? A professional notch up, a horsey acre, milder weather, closer to metropolitan art galleries ... a better class of Washingtonian associates? ;) (j/k)

I know what you mean about honoring one's commitments, but still it's anyones perogative to change one's mind (not just a womans as the old joke goes), especially with stakes so high. I suppose if you really feel disinclined now is the best time make that decision. Tho' perhaps your first intuition, to go ahead with it, is the best(?)!

Hang in there! It's definitely not easy, I know!

on Saturday, September 16th, Elise said

Hi RR, thanks for the long response. I really appreciate your perspective, as one who has just gone through a job change.

If it were just the matter of taking the new job and I didn't have to leave Alaska, I wouldn't feel nearly as torn. I really did like the people I met in Centralia a lot, and I liked the area too etc. and I think the job will be challenging...which I kindof thrive on...

It's not what lies in Washington (which I'm sure will be great) that has me concerned, it's what I'm leaving behind in Juneau that's making me feel so sad.

And great..."a better class of Washingtonian associates"...are you referring to yourself perhaps?

Anyway, I just got off the phone with my dad, who I have the highest degree of respect for. He said what I knew he would say because it is how I was raised... "you have to honor your committments".

End of story.

I think really it's even remotely toying with the idea of recinding my resignation that has me feeling all crazy again. I made my decision and I need to think of it as no longer being up for debate.

on Saturday, September 16th, Carolyn Hoffman said


It's easy to see what you'll be missing when you leave Juneau, because that's what you have now. It's much harder to know what you'll be gaining by your move becvause you don't know what that will bring you. I'd go back to the reasons why you decided to leave in the first place and see if those still sound right to you. If so, then it's still the right decision.

on Saturday, September 16th, Kasia said

Actually I wrote the same things as Carolyn, then read her post and deleted mine. :)
Look back and see if your expectations are still the same. Maybe there are things that have gone better and the change is no longer so important. :)

on Saturday, September 16th,">Paul said

I live in Portland and I'm thinking of moving back to Juneau. I don't think Centralia will be so bad. Juneau will always hover over you like the mountains.The decision has been made so no niggling. Gambling is the main attraction in centralia if i remember and most of the high rollers are steppin' out of the double-wides. Alas art needs experience me thinks and this will be that. Anyway good luck to ya lass from a real 43 year old.

on Saturday, September 16th, Elise said

hi Carolyn, that's a really good way of looking at it. The reasons why I decided to leave? I'm not even sure...I think because it had been raining for the entire summer and I was getting sick of it. And I liked the guy who was trying to hire me, and he got me everything I asked for, and I ran out of reasons *not* to take it.

I don't think I ever, really conciously wanted to leave though in the first place. But, there are positive things about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and I believe in the old adage about regretting what you don't try, not what you do.

And Kasia, things having been going better lately. The weather, for one thing, has been fairly decent for the fall. And I just got a raise in July that allows me to actually afford going out more with friends (before I was always barely scraping by from pay check to pay check).

There is another reason too, one I can't go into, but it colors my current view of reality whether I'll admit it to myself or not. I'm sure in a few days all be back to normal again.


on Saturday, September 16th, Elise said

Hi Paul,
Thanks for commenting!

I think I was drafting my lengthy reply above when you made your, you are thinking of moving back to Juneau...?


Are you joking about the gambling and the double-wides?

Also, what do you mean by "real 43 year old"...?

on Saturday, September 16th,">Paul said

Yes, I was joking. There are a few casinos. I am no expert on Centralia .

As for the 43 I thought I read you were 43 then I saw a birthdate of '69. I may have been looking at somebody else's profile,oops.

Yes, I really love Juneau. I need to visit and decide what Juneau means to me.

Boy I do feel your anxiety about moving. How long is your commitment?


on Saturday, September 16th, Michaela said

Do you know the expression, "Throwing your shoe over the fence?" Sometimes you know you need to do something, but are hesitant, so you give yourself a reason to have to do it. I think you did that in this case.
As far as moving, I fell in love with Georgia just before we left, after wanting to move north, closer to family, for so long... I still get Georgia homesick sometimes when Minnesota Nice happens. But sometimes it is fun to be the most outgoing person in the place ;)

on Saturday, September 16th, dad said

1969 still only makes you thrity something :doze:

on Sunday, September 17th, holly said

Nothing is permanent, Elise. If you hate Centralia after a reasonable period of time, then you can always leave-- go back to Juneau or somewhere else entirely. I'm also one for seeing commitments through. And besides, what makes you think you won't have a wonderful time?

Your sudden re-emergence socially in Juneau is not a random sign from The Powers That Be showing you you're making a horrible mistake, it is the effect of *you* making an effort to be social and enjoy yourself at the eleventh hour. So do the same thing in Centralia. Give this place and your decision a chance before you decide it's going to be a giant mistake.

Every decision in your life has the potential to be a giant mistake (look what eating bagged spinach can do to you!)-- but you have to own your decisions and make the most of what those choices allow. "Screw your courage to the sticking place" and move on. :)

on Sunday, September 17th, Howard said

Holly has the right idea. It's always good to step away from the safe and known to try something new. If you really hate it yu can always go back. I think it's better to try it and hate it rather then not go at all.

on Sunday, September 17th, Elise said

Hi again Paul, I don't think there's a time commitment with the new job, but I'm guessing it will take at least a year just to really figure everything out.

And yes, anxiety is a good word for what I'm feeling about the move.

And hi Bea!!! "Minnesota Nice" eh? I can guess what that's like, how is it different from georgia? Any chance you and Leo can move back some day? Would you want to?

Hi dad, yes, that makes me 36. Wheeeeeeeee!

I think you're right Holly, that I've made an effort here lately, and I can (if the job doesn't sap all of my energy) put forth that same effort when I get to Centralia.

As for trying it and hating it Howard...when I really think about it, I don't think that's ever happened to me. I think to some extent, we have to bring our own energy to new situations...that we have the power to make them a positive experience if we maintain the right attitude.

So...that's what I'm going to be attempting to do. Stay focused on the positive. Enjoy every minute of what I have here...for now...and then try to do the same when I get to Washington. If I'm not a good fit for the college, Juneau will still be here when I get back.

on Monday, September 18th, Mike Bryant said

Hi Elise,

As Dad of a 20 year-old daughter, the committment thing is probably the advice I would give her too.(But I am biased, since I work at Centralia College and think you would be a huge plus!) :)

I don't believe there is a right and wrong or a fated path. My hunch is you will find a way to be happy either place. Having said that, moving takes a huge amount of energy, decisionmaking, and soulsearching for most of us.
For some people, gambling is a big pastime in Centralia, but it doesn't define the area like it does around Carson City, Nevada, where I spent a couple years. (I'm not sure this will be a positive in convincing you to come ;)), but I would guess, Hunting/fishing, Family/religion, Conservative politics, Local sports, Community activities and Shopping would give you a much clearer representation.

Hope this helps a little.