A to Z Challenge: O is for Occupation, or Why Don't I Know What I Want To Do When I Grow Up?

question-markDoes anyone else feel like they still have no idea what they want to do with their life? Does anyone else think about what kind of work they REALLY want to do?  Does anyone else want to quit their full-time job and go back to school—at 52? Does anyone else feel like a failure because they are still searching?

I certainly hope so.

I don’t mean that in a spiteful way, but in a “I can’t believe I’m alone in this” kind of way.

It’s not that I hate my job. I’ve been working in public education for almost 19 years and I love being able to make a difference in students’ lives.  I started out as a high school English teacher and really enjoyed sharing my passion for literature with students. I’ll admit that I became increasingly frustrated with my ability to engage students—and I think that was my failure, not theirs.

For the past ten years, I’ve been more involved with administrative work in my high schools.  I’ve worked with curriculum and professional development, small learning communities and scheduling. And I’ve enjoyed that work; I felt I was contributing to student success in a more global way and that my skills were being used.

But lately, I want more.  Or less, maybe.

My kids are getting older, entering the teenage years.  And as counter-intuitive as this may seem, I want to be home for them now more than ever.

I want to be the house where kids hang out after school (so I know who everyone is and what they’re up to). I want to be able to take them here and there for after school activities if they need transportation. I want to go to athletic games and other school events. I want to be home when they get there to hear about their day (just in case they actually want to talk to me).

My current job allows me to be home after school for the kids, but honestly, I’m so exhausted from the commute and stress, I don’t always have the energy to be emotionally present.

That sounds so lame to me as I type it, but it’s true!

Add in the peri-menopause, depression and anxiety and I’m lucky I can get up in the morning, let alone be a good mom.

And so, I’m searching.

I’m investigating the idea of tutoring. And working as a writer.  I think I’m a pretty good editor (ask my husband; I edited his dissertation!) and I love reading.

I’m considering some classes in photography. The pictures of my family are prized possessions and I love the idea of taking pictures of families and their events!

Going back to school for a library science degree has always been in the back of my mind, too. As a kid, libraries were my safe space and I spent hours there, exploring shelves for new reads and rediscovering favorite books I read over and over. I’ve enjoyed introducing the Chicago libraries to my kids and I think the Chicago Public Library system would benefit from some pleasant and passionate librarians!

And what about recovery?  I’d love to help others find the blessing of recovery through counseling and treatment. That would require going back to school, too.

I’m applying for administrative jobs within education, too.  I have lots of experience and talent in that area; I even have the degree!

Lots of options.

One of my greatest stumbling blocks is getting in my own way. I put up barriers in my mind that keep me from dreaming. I tell myself I can’t do something before I even try. Or I use the past to foresee the future.  I too often grab hold of the fear of failure instead of the hope of trying.

And so, I put this down on paper.

My dream job would include:

  • Working part-time
  • Teaching in some capacity
  • Sharing my passion
  • Mentoring others
  • Listening to others
  • Writing
  • Working with diverse groups of people
  • Learning new things
  • Physical activity
  • And maybe, being my own boss

And so, I’ll keep searching.


I might not find my dream job right now, but I believe (sort of) that I can find the best fit for me and my family if I keep my mind and heart open.

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