A year ago, as a college senior, I entered my school's Career Services department so a computer program could generate a life path for me. I told it I was interested in languages, writing and an absence of cubicles. It yielded 17 results, all of which disappeared once I raised my salary requirements above minimum wage, and said I wouldn't mind dental coverage.
Eager to dodge the suggested jobs, I chose another route entirely. I moved to Spain to teach English.
It was a good year; my students learned some important phrasal verbs, and the difference between "bitch" and "beach." I, in turn, appreciated fine wines and a slower pace of life, and gleaned some crude Spanish slang not published in textbooks.
But now I'm back in Marin, trying to figure out my next step without Career Services' astute software.
There are only two options, but the boxes to check seem more nuanced this time.
Do I move to San Francisco, close to family and friends whom I never realized I needed so much until a year spent apart? I could pursue my dream of writing, though in light of the tech culture, I'd inevitably edit copy for some startup marketing tablets to dogs. The pay would afford me a partitioned pantry in the Tenderloin, but still, I'd be here. Home.
Or do I return to Spain for another year, where the novelty has worn off but at least my work schedule allows for siestas. I don't relish the idea of teaching English to drooling toddlers, but as a travel and language lover, it adds up on paper. Starting from scratch overseas yet again is as hard to stomach as Spanish blood sausage, but then again, who turns down Barcelona?
The Career Services software needs an updated algorithm. I'm a writer, not a Google engineer, but I imagine it'd be an average of the following: glorified Instagrams of cured ham minus Facebook rants about Spanish bureaucracy; clicks per minute on the SF Craigslist housing page; the burgeoning potential of my barebones resume; unique monthly visits to my blog, to see if writing is a real option; and the cash I'd dish out on transatlantic flights versus Uber rides across the city.
Leave out salary requirements so as not to skew the data, and the results would tell me the only thing I really need to know at 23:
Should I be here, or there?
With a Perspective, I'm Jenny Marshall.