Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Days of Our Work Lives: Part III: Adam's Saga. Episode 7: Love Versus Career.

Part III: Adam's Saga

Episode 7
Love Versus Career

In the previous episode, Adam ran for student government treasurer and lost. 

Now a senior, he needed an extracurricular, if only to buff up his college applications--He really wanted to get into one of those seven-year combined bachelor's/Doctor of Optometry programs.

So he applied to be music director for Skit!, a competition of musical skits among the senior, junior, and sophomore classes. After all, he had learned to play piano well by ear. While still in 4th grade he played the Star Spangled Banner at an assembly. (When he finished, show-off that he was, he asked the teacher, "Can I play an encore," whereupon the teacher hustled him back to his seat.)  And last year, a sax-playing student asked if Adam wanted to make $25 playing a New Year's Eve gig at an Air Force base. Of course, Adam said yes. Alas, the sax player didn't tell him it was 100 miles away and that they'd have to rent a car to get there.

Skit's! student director chose someone else to be the music director--a worse musician than Adam but a more popular kid. Again, Adam got the message that it may be better to be popular than good.

But that turned out for the best. Skit's student director asked Adam if he'd be the audio-visual person. Adam liked gadgets and precision and besides, it was an extracurricular to put on his college applications. In his application essay, he could  explain how the skills he developed doing A/V could be relevant to being an optometrist. So he agreed.

Being the A/V guy yielded an even bigger benefit: He met Sara. She was the first girl who ever flirted with him: She looked him in the eye rather than past him. She even initiated conversation with him. In fact, she asked if he needed any help with the audio-visual. He didn't but he said he did. 

One day when he was setting up equipment in the sound booth, one of his contact lenses fell out. He and Sara got down on their knees to look for it. And when she found it, she said, "Can I put it in your eye?" Slowly, steadily, she did. And then she kissed him. His first real kiss.

In April, Adam got two fat envelopes. He had been admitted to two 7 yr OD/BS programs!  He was smart about how he picked between them: He read the student reviews in The Princeton Review Guide and on College Confidential, and when he visited the colleges, he asked random students what they liked and didn't like about the college. He gave little weight to the tour, knowing that would be like buying a car based on the salesperson. Nor did he give much weight to the campus's physical attractiveness. He knew that after the first few months, he'd hardly notice it. He also sat in on an advanced optometry class and at the break, asked students what they thought of the program and how employable the graduates are. As a result, he preferred the State University of New York program. Not only did the program seem great, it was exciting to think about living in New York City!

But at graduation, Adam and Sara had a difficult conversation. Should he not go there and go to the University of Washington where she was going? Should they go to separate colleges but agree to stay faithful to each other? Although Sara was a wonderful person, their relationship was great, and Sara wanted to continue the relationship, Adam was clear they shouldn't. 

Indeed, Adam ended up introducing Sara to her future husband. That provided an important career clue: Adam, in his heart, knew he would be wisest to resist societal pressures and remain single forever so he could devote himself more fully to work. 

That decision would profoundly affect his life...and that of many others. 

 The next episode is HERE.

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