There is this feeling at 50 that we are too late to start something new, that we need to simply accept what we are doing and sail into our retirement…we simply let our dreams go.
You know all those saying: You can’t teach a dog new tricks; It’s too late, the ship has sailed; If I was going to do it, I should have started.
Part of us believes that it is foolish to change paths now, to start again at the bottom. Sometimes we simply do not have the confidence; our brains feel smaller, learning seems so exhausting.
But I have made TWO big career changes later in life, I was a journalist for 25 years – and switched careers when I had my children in my early 40’s – to teaching English. I did a Post Grad teaching degree, and an additional diploma for teaching English to foreign students. For 10 years, it was perfect because I taught at a language school where we finished teaching at 2pm, it had a 9am start so I could drop my kids at school, and compared to high school teaching, there was much less paperwork and preparation, and absolutely no after hours expectations.
Then boredom set in after 20 years of teaching, my kids are growing up and away, and Covid caused language schools to close with the lockdown – so once again, it’s time for a change.
Now I am not so sure where I am going. I have vaguely decided to expand my blog into a bloggy-cum-shop which is just vaguely starting out with ideas but nothing to sell yet – that is coming – and have started tutoring from home and online during the Covid lockdown.
But it made me think of all the people who started careers after 50. Maya Angelou, one of the most incredible writers of our time, who was in her 60s when her poetry and books became popular. Martha Stewart only got her TV show at 50, Julia Childs were even older when she became famous. One of the most renowned American folk artists, Anna Mary Robertson Moses, known better as “Grandma Moses,” only began painting at 76. Actress Kathryn Joosten, won two Emmys for her work on Desperate Housewives when she was in her late 60’s, only moving to Hollywood (and in with her son) at age 56 to become an actress.
There is more – the quiet achievers – and for more, there is this awesome book celebrating achievements of older women: Defying Gravity, by Prill Boyle, who only started writing when she was 47 years old.
This inspiriting collection of interviews with American women include Linda Bach, who entered medical school at the age of 46, and is currently a doctor in private practice, Patrician Symonds, who became a Professor of Anthropology at Brown University in her late 40’s, Evelyn Gregory who followed her dream to become a flight attendant aged 71, Mary Orlando who opened her first business at 62 years old, Jane Work a newly-qualified 57-year old psychologist, and Irma Elder, the first woman to own an automobile franchise in Detroit, aged 52.
And here is why I reckon we can still be winners.
We are wise. We are able to see both sides to all arguments. We have life experience.
We can negotiate like hell because we have practised our whole lives with kids and husbands and divorces and life in general.
We can multitask. I can cook dinner while talking the children through their homework, while watching TV out of one eye and texting my mother with the other.
We are able to laugh at ourselves and we don’t take life so seriously.
We spend less time on looking good and more time focussed on work.
SO often, I feel tired. But you know what? Most of the time I am not so much tired as bored. The minute I have something exciting to do I am passionate about, I feel like a young woman heading off on an exciting date.
We are a group of wonderful women with a sack load of things still to achieve with the patience, time and dedication. We just need a plan and some confidence.
What have you done new with YOUR life in the past decade? Share and inspire!