I always wanted to be a writer, but that didn’t fit with the ideal set by society and my parents.
Many of us were molded to follow the model established by our elders: college, preferably an advanced degree, a job in a well-known corporation, work 30 or 40 years, and then retire in comfort. Instead of asking, ‘what’s your purpose in life’, we were asked, ‘what’s your major’ and ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Pursuits like becoming a writer, an entrepreneur, or taking time to discover ourselves were frowned upon. We were shamed or ‘encouraged’ to pursue a more substantial, acceptable career.
I am the oldest child of oldest children and was expected to set a good example for my siblings. While I acquired college degrees, my brothers dropped out of high school. My first post-undergraduate job as a sports director lasted 10 months, upon discovering I was filling in for an employee on maternity leave. Downhearted but determined, I pursued an advanced degree in exercise physiology. It took me 10 years to find a job related to my education. Although I was overqualified for other employment, I managed to land a temporary job at a meat packing facility until I got a part-time job in cardiac rehab. By 2009, I was unemployed, divorced, and had moved. Meanwhile, my father suffered a severe fall, my daughter became a single mother, and my mother was in depression.
When disaster strikes, some people feel like there is nothing more to do. Then there are more of us who take the opportunity to improve our circumstances. My mother, with a little nudging from friends and family, returned to her genealogy hobby. My daughter discovered she enjoyed helping the elderly and volunteered at a local nursing home. After enrolling in class, she acquired a job as a nurse’s aide. I returned to my lifelong desire to write. As I fought the voices in my head telling me this wasn’t the norm, I acquired a small collection of clients. I was stubbornly determined to become an expert content writer for industries related to my work experience but I ignored the new direction that presented itself to me: blogging about midlife and repurposing ourselves.
Just as I acknowledged this, I got the word that two of my main clients lost funding and no longer could continue my services. Sure, I was disappointed, but I got the hint. My new purpose was seeking me out, too.
In the midst of change, it’s difficult to see what’s clearly in front of us. Life continues to evolve. Our purpose continues to evolve. The struggle is to relax, be patient, and observe the signs. Sometimes they are obvious. Most times they are subtle. And they are never stagnant! This time around, it’s time to do what feels right to US!
How will you answer, ‘What’s your purpose?’
Making Midlife Better