Sunday, February 11, 2018

Never Too Late

I ran into an old colleague at Target (where else) and after looking with amazement at each other's kids and how nice it is to run into each other in real life instead of Facebook, we started talking about where we were in life right now.

After all, we used to work in an elementary school together. I knew she'd taken some time off to have her kids, and she knew I'd done the same, but it's always interesting to know where people land after that sort of break.

I definitely feel like I'm someone who reinvented her adult life. When I first took that teaching job, I figured that I would teach my thirty years and retire. I loved my district and loved my school and loved my role in it. I had great colleagues and an amazing district that supported the arts.

Now, after a dozen years in and six years out, that isn't my path anymore. I opted not to renew my certification (more of a timing thing when the decision was made - it seemed like a frivolous $500 when I couldn't imagine getting the hours of professional development in on my own). I started blogging, which turned into a (very) part time freelance job. I started homeschooling, which is my life right now. If you asked me what I do, those are the roles I'd give you. Part time writer, full time homeschooler. Unless you asked about my life right after college, I might not even bring up the fact that I spent twelve years teaching music. Most of my co-op friends are surprised to hear that my music suggestions for classes come from a very real place of expertise.

I'm not the only one who has gone off in a different direction. Adam's path is less dramatic, but people are blown away that his degree is in music. He's a senior director at a huge technology company now, spending time on the road selling platforms to customers and dealing with partners. It's less dramatic because his change came early in his 20s. He saw that a music career wasn't for him, started working, and worked his way up over the years to become a true expert in what he does.

I have friends who worked with animals before their maternity leaves, and now took jobs as lactation consultants, or doulas, or CPSTs. I know people with years and years of time invested as ICU nurses, who are now web designers or social media managers or published authors of best selling books. Teachers turned into business owners. Office workers turned into amazing, full time photographers.

This old colleague and I chatted away next to the discount movies, and I realized that it is truly never too late to figure out another path. My plan was to take some time off and go back to teaching, definitely by the time Reagan was in kindergarten if not sooner. Now, I can't imagine that life again. My friend also found her way into a different path. Working in a school can be so hard on a working mother, but working in a clinic gave her great flexibility and a new way to adapt her training and expertise.

It's inspiring to think of. Right now I'm fortunate enough to be able to freelance and homeschool, but if I had to go back a full time job, I'm already thinking of what I could reinvent for myself. Because it's never too late to think of what you want to be when you grow up.
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