In my old organization, I mentored a woman who was entering the profession after doing contract work in another field. She was also a wife and a mother of two kids who were leaving home for college. She was quite green in terms of my career field but managed to score a desirable job close to her home.
A few months into the new job I spoke to her and she had some complaints about the organization but overall was content where she had been placed. She did say that she was sad about not being able to accompany her husband on the trips he was taking for work. Boo hoo, I thought.
Less than a year into the job, she quit to follow her husband across country for a gig.
I’m so glad I am taking this time for myself, because I was getting to the point where I was bursting with envy at people like her, those dilettantes in the world of work. I have another married friend here who is in the midst of taking several years off, but because I am happily enjoying my own time, I can talk to her without bursting into flames.
Of course, even though I’ve taken it on the chin for decades, unlike those women I am having to hustle up my next gig.
Ah . . . “the dilettantes in the world of work.” I don’t mind them much, except when they try to give me advice about MY career as though their experience and mine have anything in common. (ME: Must work, probably until I’m well into my 70s in a high-stress career in order to provide for myself in my advanced old age, if the stress doesn’t kill me before then. THEM: Don’t need the money to pay their bills, by virtue of either some inherited money or a well-paid spouse, and can dabble in the workforce from time to time as they see fit, or until they’re bored and need a change. Any money they earn goes towards an extra-special family vacation, or to pay for a spiffy kitchen renovation, or some other nice “extra.”) It particularly annoys me when they suggest, all wide-eyed, that I should “switch careers.” Um….what? I’m 52, am established in a career that is both content-specific as well as somewhat geographically restricted. It’s too late to retrain for anything that would enable me to support myself into old age. But let’s say I was to go back to school to become . . . what, exactly? And while I was in school, who would pay the bills? Hmm? And if I were to go at night while working during the day (in fact totally unfeasible because I don’t have a 9 to 5 job — I work until 8:00 most nights, about two hours after most evening classes begin), that would take 3 or 4 years to complete another degree, and then I would be that much older and ergo even less employable in said new field. (The time to have changed careers would have been in my early 30s, but that ship sailed a long time ago. My mistake, and I’m living with it.) Bottom line: The “dilettantes” have no idea how truly restricted the choices are for those of us who HAVE to support ourselves.
I have had the kind of jobs that made it impossible to go to school as well, since my schedule involved evenings and weekends. And yes, it gets harder to change careers as you get older.
I am in the same boat here.