Sour times for non-profit folk

We all know, or at least should be vaguely aware, that our economy is hurting; nowhere does this seem as glaringly obvious than within a sphere where everyone's livelihood depends on the generosity of others. Economic hardships within the greater society of our country have hit home recently with force: term positions aren't being renewed here, funds have been frozen, jobs that have been willingly been vacated have been frozen, and over a dozen proposed layoffs were announced a little over a week ago. All this and more have led me to feeling like I am teetering on the edge of momentous change whether it's welcomed or not.

It cannot escape my notice that regardless of how hard I work, how much I like my coworkers and are liked by them, and how valuable what I do may be to the daily operations of my department, I am the lowest rung on the ladder; if anyone goes from the library, I'm 99.9% sure that it's going to be me. This brings up a difficult question: do I start shopping myself out now on the chance that I get the ax at the end of the month, or wait until I hear something more definite? If I do choose to shop myself out, don't get laid off, but get offered another position, do I go? The answer to this second question may seem like a resounding 'yes' to those unfamiliar with my position, but for me it's not so clear. I love my place of employment; the work I do may be completely mind-numbing, but I love coming in here every work day nonetheless. I have been here in one way or another since about 2001 and have done all I could to stay. Out of all major constants in my life, The Field Museum is one of the most enduring. In the back of my mind I've always known that I would eventually have to move on, especially after getting my masters degree, as I'd most likely become overqualified for the jobs that become available (the 'lifers' will never relinquish the good ones, and who could blame them?). As of right now I am in the middle of that degree with no chance of being done before summer, unless I do get laid off and live off unemployment while I take on a heavier course load. My boss here has been more helpful than any employee could ever hope for in terms of helping me get the time off I've needed to travel for classes, and working with my class schedules during the day time; I could never expect such support anywhere else... or could I?

These are all the things swirling around in my head right now. I've just submitted a resume for a position that, about 6 months from now, would be the absolute perfect job for me to get involved with. Needless to say that at this moment the waiting for a response is leaving me wracked by insecurities and second guessing about my qualifications to fill this position, but others keep assuring me that it's something that if given the chance, I could grow to be great in. I guess it's a moot point until I get a response, but I can't help but obsess over it. A part of me wonders if this is just the push I need to step up my game and become a real professional, but an even bigger part of me wants to stay in this familiar womb of a position where I know I'll never be challenged. Time to figure out what I'm really doing with my degrees, ambitions, hopes, and efforts.

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