On The Path Not Taken

two roads girl

“If you are young and you have a choice between a job you think you have passion for and a job that pays more…explore the passion.” — a 40-something woman on not taking a lower paying opportunity in her twenties


I was journalism major and I really wanted to be in the editorial side of magazines. I got this job from the New York Times help wanted ads in magazine publishing. I didn’t care what the job was. I wanted to get into magazines.

It was great. It was a lot of fun and then this opportunity came up in editorial that I could’ve taken it. I knew all the editors. I knew everybody on that side of the magazine. But I realized that the pay was way low. I was already getting paid nicely. It was the early 90s. It was $5,000 a year less or something crazy but that was real money back then. I ended up passing up the opportunity.

When I look back on that that would’ve put me on the editorial path. That was my very first job in magazine publishing and then I could’ve gone from there. But instead I stayed on the business side through my full career in magazine publishing. I had a great time but it dramatically changed my path and I always wonder what would have happened if I had made the other decision.

What I realize is that little decisions in life can really change your entire path. Obviously there’s big decisions – to move, to get married – but a decision to take this job or that job, at the time it seemed so minor . I thought this one pays more. I’ll just stay where I am. I didn’t realize that I was really making a decision about a career path. I wasn’t thoughtful enough about it. I could have made the effort to go the editorial route.  That would’ve been such an easy way to explore my career path rather than stay on the money track.

I wasn’t thoughtful enough about it. It’s interesting when I look back. I don’t really regret it. I loved what I did but when I look back on little things like that it’s really interesting to me. You can start anything any age but at twenty-something you’re exploring and you’re trying new things and you’re discovering. Actually not making a lot of money was not a huge issue. It was New York. I was young. You are having so much fun and everybody else is in the same boat. – 40-something, real estate, married, SF

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