Now I’m In My 50s, It Feels Too Late To Have The Career I Want
I was probably in my thirties when I first paid attention to stories about my contemporaries doing well for themselves. Pre-social media, I would stumble across a familiar face in the glossy pages of a magazine or a mention in a major newspaper. Or sometimes the jolt of recognition was simply in seeing someone the same age as me.
They had important job titles and had made inspired career choices. I was impressed and wondered how they got there. How had they made use of their post-school years? How did they engineer their particular success story?
I felt a surge of urgency, an internal hurry up. I still had no idea what I wanted to make of myself but as long as my feet were planted in a legal career, I felt like I was on my way somewhere. Or at least I was temporarily excused from thinking about where I was headed.
It was a spirit of competition rather than envy that gripped me. I was still in the game, yet to be plagued by envy and resentment. I was clueless as to just how clueless I was about my career choices.
I assumed it was just a matter of catching up. But while many of my contemporaries were headed on an upward career trajectory, my career path was zigzagging. Rather than each job change being a progression that built on my skills and experience, it was a reaction to the trauma of the previous role.
I told myself that I had a different idea of success. Ambition had no currency for me. Instead, meaning was to be found in learning and growing by immersing myself in a series of new experiences. My resume ended up looking like a kind of career bric-a-brac store.
I do like a pattern, and there’s a particular satisfaction in spotting them in my own life. My work history has followed a similar pattern to my relationship history. The more I think about it, the more parallels I see.
Just as I had rebound relationships, I had rebound jobs. Bailing out, or being forced out of an increasingly intolerable environment, I would seek refuge in one that at first appeared safe and undemanding. And I would stay until it didn’t.