Taking a Chance on an Open Door

If I can make even the smallest difference, I can look back and know it was the right choice

I wasn’t exactly looking to leave my current job. I wasn’t active on job boards or Linked In, I set all my online profiles to unavailable, and I always replied to recruiters with a “thanks, but not now”. That said, there were times I’d come along a job notice and for just a second think, “how cool would it be to work there”. Usually I’d look around their website and the other jobs they listed, realize despite all the glamor is actually wasn’t better than my current position and move on.

At some point last year I started thinking about why I always closed doors to new opportunities before even taking a look on the other side. After a while I realized it was mostly fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of being outed as a fraud (imposter syndrome is definitely entrenched in my mind), fear of failing, and the fear of letting my family down. About this time, a Fellowship with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, happened to pop up in my twitter feed (thanks Scott!). I figured what the hell do I have to lose? So what if I apply, what’s wrong with just seeing what this Fellowship is about? That application turned into a portfolio review, which turned into an interview, and eventually turned into an offer to join the 2015 Fellows.

To say I debated it endlessly is an understatement. I like to think I’m spontaneous and carefree, but I’m not. I over analyze everything, and this was no exception. There were many sleepless nights questioning if leaving CMN to join the Federal Government was the right choice. Here I was working with an amazing team, for a company that took a huge chance on me, and had rewarded me with great pay, great benefits and a ton of opportunity to work on Open Source projects as well as leading internal ones. Could I really turn that down for public service?

In the end, it was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the brainchild of the CFPB, that convinced me I was making the right choice. She’s never been one to play by the rules of the establishment, always causing a wake in her path, and I’ve respected her immensely for it. When others on Capital Hill have been silent, she’s stood up, taken a risk, and made people accountable for their actions (or in-action). How could I turn this fellowship down? Twenty years from now, how could I look back and realize I had a chance to make a difference, no matter how small? How could I tell my son I chose more money or comfort over public service?

I can’t and I won’t. So here I am, saying goodbye to the people I’ve known and worked alongside for the last three years. I’m a bit nervous (ever perpetually felt like you have to puke?), but I have faith in the future ahead of me. Maybe one day, Sean will be presented with an even tougher choice, and I’ll have inspired him to make the right one.