Something weird happened at the bank the other day- a client came in to make a withdrawal, and happened to mention that a family member was suffering from a rare disease. He said it in a way that had no expectation that I would know what he was talking about, but would empathize with his distress. He could not have possibly known that in my previous work, I was one of the few people on the planet looking for a cure for this rare complication to an already devastating disease. I didn't tell him that either, because seeing him upset about it made me feel like a quitter.
Much like the area manager who smokes, who I can't bring myself to berate about it even though I know all kinds of miserable things about why smoking gives you cancer, and the bad kind at that. What am I supposed to say? "I like you enough to let you know this, but not enough to find a cure for you when you need it..."
The conflict stems from the powerlessness of being a job hunter. When I was doing research, I could at least say I was making an effort to change the world, to cure disease, to save us all from suffering. Now I count people's money all day and try not to think about all the nasty chemicals that are on my hands. But, this is apparently the best I can do. It seems... unfair? is that too cliche?... hard to manage the emotional baggage of the job hunt. I know I don't miss doing research, but I think I miss doing something for the greater good.
The job market is at least 10 times better than it was in January, so my every free minute will be spent pursuing a job I don't have to feel guilty about, or will be too embarrassed to mention to my old boss.