I have changed careers at a stage in life when people might ask why I did so. I was successful as an Independent Educational Consultant. I had many families who were happy to refer me to their friends in a crisis. I knew many wonderful teachers and tutors, and had excellent connections with therapists, psychologists, doctors, lawyers, and coaches. Not only did I change jobs, I left a life behind I had crafted over nearly four decades. I moved from family, friends, and a geographical and political and economic area I knew as home to move to a completely different state. Why change now?
I am the kind of thinker who sees the world in shapes and patterns. I like symmetry, although to me symmetry is not always 1/2 and 1/2. It might be a little lopsided here with something on the other side to offset the feature that “appears” lopsided to others. That is my creative side. I also think logically and intentionally. My new job is related to what I know–it is not a “complete” change, not really. It is just new. But I am already figuring out many things. I “knew” I could do this.
I look at human life and its stages as a puzzle of sorts, one that has different shapes perhaps, but I can recognize the general arrangement of pieces. More than that, I look at the big picture and see human life as a series of three circles. The first circle of life is a circle of growth that runs roughly from infancy to the late 20s. I did a lot of maturing and changing during those years, beginning with my first tentative steps and attempts at speech to going to school to dating to marriage and to the start of a family. During this phase is the initial development of self, the identity that one takes with one’s self throughout life’s journey. The second circle of growth runs roughly from age 30 to the late 50s. This is the acquisition phase, the consolidating phase if you will, when one develops a place in the world–a career, a community, a family. There is overlapping of the portions of one’s life, but stability is the general framework in which one acquires these things and develops an identity in the bigger world. It is also, at times, when the individual self sometimes drifts to the side. This is, for some people, a challenging time, especially when their life does not make that perfect arc, that perfect circle. Then again, nothing in life is perfect, and symmetry gets a bit lopsided.
I am in the third circle now that begins in the late 50s and continues to the inevitable conclusion. In this circle, one comes around to one’s mortality and the inevitability of death is more present. True, some people live a very long life, but there is no guarantee. Yet this is not as morbid a thought as it might seem when one is young. Instead, I have embraced this as a chance to return to that original identity–the one I fought so hard to attain when I was young! Why did it take me so long to get here? What happened during that second phase that took me away from “me”?
For me, at least, that second circle started at a younger age and enfolded me for so long that I was guilty of not reaching forward when I was young–in that first circle, when it would have been easier. I let my identity be guided so much by circumstance rather than take things on for myself because I felt duty bound to do so. But it is okay. I am reaching forward now. I am fortunate to be strong and healthy, and hopefully I have plenty of years left to embrace and enjoy this change in my life circumstances. Even my husband is learning to let go of his trepidation, having gotten so “used to” things as they were. But this is his chance, too, to reconnect with the things he dreamed of once when he as young. No, you won’t find us skydiving anytime soon. But you may see us running on a beach. You may see us gazing in wonder at the stars on a clear night, and smelling roses in a garden. And you will see me in a completely new job in a completely new state, thankful for this opportunity to say “Welcome, Eileen, to the rest of your life!”