What do I want to do when I grow up? The proverbial question we ask ourselves at some point in time.
At this stage of my life, I feel like I’m the only person I know still asking the question. But here’s the thing, I recently turned 59 – I know, how did THAT happen? I will be 60 on my next birthday, 60!! I have no clue where the time went and yet in my head, I think I’m still 30-ish, until I look in the mirror and see the newly developed ‘smile’ lines or discover something on my body dropped or sagged another little bit. Change is difficult enough for most, but come on, do these really need to hang any more than they already do? I just can’t get my head around it. I know it’s ‘just a number’, blah blah blah, but it’s MY number and I’m not yet embracing it. And that’s OK, for now. I still have 8 months to emotionally prepare for the big one!
Really though, my dilemma or rant right now is I’m 59 and I’m out of work. I need a job. Who hires 59 year olds!? I spent most of my working life in the broadcast industry and for the better part, loved it. Then, I was laid off just over a year ago during a massive reorganization at one of the largest media co’s. That was hard to swallow and I went through a difficult time. I put my heart, soul and life into that business for 30 years and in the end, I got booted out. No handshake, no thank you, no good luck in your future endeavors. That said, I did walk away with much more than that – fabulous friendships, wonderful experiences, and a treasure box full of memories to keep with me.
I was done with TV. That was just over a year ago and I’ve moved on. I thought it was the perfect time to change my career path. It’s not often that we get that opportunity. So, I thought long and hard about putting my energy into something new; an area where I would help people and truly feel satisfaction knowing I was doing something good for others. It took me months to figure it out, doing a lot of research and speaking with several people I trust. I kept going back to the same thing — conflict resolution specialist. I knew I had what it takes to do the job. I know how to be fair and offer unbiased opinions and comments. I’m good at diffusing escalation of emotions and getting to the core of the problem. There’s ALWAYS an underlying issue to the start of a dispute. Knowing how to peel away the layers to get to the root is the challenge, and for some reason, that comes naturally to me. So, I thought I’d go for it.
The decision to enroll in the course was simple once I made up my mind, but the terrifying part was going back to school after all these years. Could I learn something new? Will my brain retain the information? Am I going to be the oldest person in the course? I was going to university and kept thinking my classmates would be young enough to be my grandchildren! Hilarious Facebook and YouTube videos of grammas kept creeping into my head. Naturally, I had some self-doubt and was feeling insecure and vulnerable. Just as I do now as I’m sharing this personal rant with you, most of whom I don’t know.
Anyway, I spent a lot of money to take this full time incredibly intense course over the summer and absolutely loved it! I was up at 6:00am every morning and would get so energized driving to school. Walking into class with my school bag filled with notes and books felt really good and I met wonderful bright people. Lawyers, social workers, students … you name it, they were enrolled in the same course. I passed my exams with A’s and one B+, and received my certificate. I was so happy and, humbly, proud of myself. For the record, I wasn’t the oldest one in class!
So now, 4 months later, I still don’t have a job. It’s a bit of a catch 22, not unlike when a student newly graduates and enters the workforce for the first time. The problem? I don’t have previous experience working in the field as a conflict/dispute resolution practitioner. The fact I have years of management background and volunteer experience in mental health and geriatric care, where many of the same skills are utilized, I just can’t break through that ceiling.
Let me tell you, it’s really hard to not get down on myself. It’s even harder to stay positive and upbeat. I’ve read many articles and attended workshops, seminars and webinars on job searching and staying positive, I’ve met with coaches, and yes, I have even put it out to the universe a gazillion times and prayed to the angels above, but no one’s listening!
This isn’t my pity party – that’s the last thing I want. I’m frustrated and I’m ranting. I take full responsibility, I’m the boss of me, and maybe I just haven’t done enough. Or maybe, I’ll never figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
It’s scary, damn scary.