I quit my job, my career, that activity that defined me as a person for 30 years. Since I’m over 55, I guess that means that I’m “retired”.
But what DOES that mean? I was doing the responsible thing by sticking to my “chosen” path for so long. Retirement sounds like my grandma who played Canasta with the ladies every Tuesday afternoon.
For the last two decades, I’ve sacrificed my energy to a career that was dependable, reliable, and safe.
These aren’t very glamorous words, but the financial security that resulted was good. However, teaching was only a small portion of my life’s PURPOSE and it just tapped into a bit of what I’m PASSIONATE about! Finally being retired from teaching opened up the road (once again) to what I was probably called to do in the first place…read, write, create. But perhaps like me, you have been SIDETRACKED, a multi-passionate person who has struggled to find your calling.
Here is the short version of my attempt to find my life’s work:
When I went to college, I had no idea what I wanted to study, what I was going to be when I grew up. I picked education after filling out an interest inventory at the student services counseling center. The results came back and showed that my interests were most closely similar to people in educational careers.
Ok. Let’s go!
I taught for 4 years when I reached the realization that teaching was HARD. I loved it, but I saw friends being financially compensated for working a lot less AND they loved what they were doing. Then, I became even further disillusioned when I saw several angry, burned-out women who were nearing the end of their teaching careers and were paid double the salary I received. There was nothing I could do to increase my pay other than teach more years and take more classes.
At the age of 26, I left teaching to work in my family’s furniture business. I jumped in with both feet. My husband and I moved back to my hometown and I threw myself into the study of successful sales techniques. I studied design and made decisions for the business. Starting on the ground floor of a business that would grow and be mine someday was exciting!
Unfortunately, after a couple of years, the business was sold to a new owner. My new career became a job. This was not what I signed up for.
Once again, I was at a decision-making point. What do I want to be when I grow up? I didn’t want to stay in retail sales. I loved making crafts and writing, but that didn’t seem like a career choice.
Then one day, I was sitting in an insurance tent. (It was for people making insurance claims after a hail storm). The woman next to me was wearing the most awesome, colorful (maybe handpainted) shoes. They screamed TEACHER. In no other profession, do we notice and appreciate women for wearing purple-painted tennis shoes with sparkles! I regularly wore heels in my sales position. I decided I wanted a job where I could wear comfortable shoes.
I considered going BACK into teaching. Kids have such wonderful energy and missed having co-workers who were “partners in crime”. I loved writing with students and teaching math. I missed reading to kids and exploring sciencey things. But…I decided, if I go back into teaching, I was going to make as much money as I could. Practically overnight, I researched and signed up to begin a master’s degree.
That was the beginning of my return to teaching and the end of my entrepreneurial adventures…or so it seemed.
I have often looked back at that those times of transition and wondered at how easy it was to change, pivot, and jump ship.
I’ve loved teaching, the kids, and my colleagues, but I’ve always known I wouldn’t be a teacher forever. There are other things I have inside me. I have so much to create and share.
This brings me to NOW. Some people might say that I’ve had a mid-life “crisis” Huh…I think that that would be more of a masculine event that often comes with the purchase of a little red sports car and….perhaps an affair.
I worked, and strove, and succeeded in my career. Did I quit at the top of my learning curve? Should I now just “settle in” at a point of comfort? Now what?
There is this feeling of restless. I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Challenges await.
This blog is the place where I am exploring ways to not “settle in” to midlife. It’s time for me (and perhaps you, too) to lean into what’s next. I want to step into my purpose, wisdom, change, self-growth, and goals.
This retirement thing isn’t my grandma’s era retirement. I’m not ready to buy a housecoat, perm my hair, or compete with my friends for the cleanest house.
For us Sidetracked Sisters, this is the time to become the person that has been waiting under the weight of a dependable, reliable, and safe career. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?
Well, as I lean in to pursue my life’s calling, I think I need a new pair of sparkly purple tennies!