About Me

On paper, I seem to have made all the right decisions.  I graduated college shortly before 9/11. While my peers and friends were suffering from the post-9/11 fallout, I had decided to attend graduate school. It was during this time that I met my future wife while hanging out at a popular New Jersey bar. For the record, she flirted with me.

We got married a few years later. Soon after, I graduated and accepted a prestigious two-year fellowship to work for a fledgling start-up company. Finally, the days of living like college students were behind us! Our life would no longer be on hold.

So….it was the perfect time to start our family. My wife and I welcomed our son to the world in March of 2008. I spent his first year trying to maximize my time with him, which usually meant cramming as much as possible into the hour or so I saw him after work and on weekends. It was never enough.

Then it happened.

The subprime bubble burst. The economy tanked. My company went under -  I lost my job and my self-worth. I was scared. I didn’t know how to make it work. I was suddenly thrust into a new world of doubt and uncertainty. How could all of those “right” decisions steer me so “wrong”?

Once the dust cleared a bit, I was able to see a tiny ray of light. Rather than cramming happy family moments into small daily snippets, I had the opportunity to submerge myself into the day-to-day details of my son’s life.  Viewing life through the eyes of a 1-year old is a gift - one that I got to live daily and I embraced it. However, my unemployment was always in the back of my head, and on my shoulders, as a constant reminder of my shortcomings. It consumed me at times.

After 6 months of unemployment, I was given another chance. I received a job offer! However, this time I needed to uproot my family from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. It was a big change. The hours at the new job were long and I wasn’t even sure it was worth it. It was too late to live in the moment with my son. I missed what I had.

Then it happened, again…

After four short weeks on the job, I was let go. I was unemployed again. This time, it was at the expense of my family. We had moved away from home, and family, and now we had an uncertain future. But, even so, to be perfectly honest, I was relieved. I was given a second opportunity to be with my family and spend more intentional time with my son.

Unemployment forced me to prioritize my life. As I look back, my happiest moments are all derived from the love of my family. Many of these times have been while I’ve been unemployed. In reality, for a lot of us, our identity is linked to our job. Our self-worth is often attached to our business card. Why shouldn’t it be? Most of us spend more time at work than with our family. However, I don’t want my job to define who I am. I want my actions to define me. My self-worth doesn’t have to be inextricably linked to my profession. I am a Biomedical Engineer by virtue of my education and professional experience, but my identity, as a whole, is defined by characteristics greater in scope than anything I could learn at my job.

So, that’s where I am. My employment may be uncertain and there are days that I am filled with “professional” self-doubt. One day soon I will go back to work and a part of my true happiness will suffer. I will, once again, have to find a balance between my professional and personal lives.  Until that day, I choose to appreciate the best moments as they happen. I know it won’t last forever, but today I get to enjoy my family.