What To Do When You Have A Mid-Career Crisis


Many people are naturally impatient. Some are hurrying to figure out how to turn their passions into a realistic career while others are determined to discover what their true interests even are. I definitely fall into the former category. I know what I want to do, and I am eager to achieve it NOW, even though I know in the back of my mind that “success” (in terms of accomplishing your personal goals) is often a long road, with twists and turns and bumps along the way.

A handful of people tell us to relax and to explore our options. They remind us that it may take us a while to get the ball rolling and that it’s okay. We should enjoy ourselves, we should travel. It’s totally fine to not know the answers yet; we have time.

For some reason, all of those encouraging words are really hard to trust. I didn’t truly believe them myself. I didn’t have faith in those statements until I remembered my mother’s story and suddenly felt reassured. My mother is a hopeful example for all of us worried about our future: she embodies the fact that for some people, finding a career that fits them nicely will just take time, a bit of exploring, and patience. And that really is okay.

After graduating from SUNY Buffalo, my mother promptly moved to New York City. She started taking dance classes and she absolutely loved them. Soon, she was attending lessons everyday. After a few years, she began to teach some classes of her own. She was able to sustain herself by teaching dance and by an additional part-time job.

My mother had a deep fondness for dancing, and she really enjoyed teaching it as well, so she continued moving and instructing throughout her 20s. However, before she turned 30, she started to have an itch to do something else. She didn’t actually want to dance for the rest of her life, she realized. She wanted to find a different career that she could be devoted to as much as dancing. After one particular class, an idea came to her mind: what about physical therapy? The profession related to dance yet was, in her mind, more “practical” (of course there are dancers who dance their whole lives, which is awesome, but my mother personally wanted to do something she considered more serious). Just like dance teachers, physical therapists encourage exercise and movement. My mother liked the idea of showing people how they could be more active and the practice of helping patients overcome their muscle injuries or mishaps seemed important and interesting.

My mother applied for a shorter, less prestigious course than others offered because it was the only one she could currently afford (you’ve probably guessed that her indulgence in dancing plus her part-time job plus New York City expenses added up to pennies). Regardless, she eventually got her bachelor’s degree and began her new career as a physical therapist. Her intuition was right: she loved it!

At the ripe age of 30, my mother changed (or maybe we can say started) her career. It was the best decision she made. She was doing something she really enjoyed that was also more stable and secure (and not to mention paid higher), which were conditions she wanted for herself at the time. (Again, things that are important vary drastically for everyone. Job security and/or money aren’t priorities for everyone. They weren’t for my mother either, and then she had a change of heart.)

I also want to note for anyone who is set on getting married or engaged or falling in love before they hit a certain age that my mother didn’t meet my dad until she was 37, and they are still happily married. If she had let people bring her down by telling her that she was getting too old and if she had settled for some other guy, she never would have met the person she really fell in love with, and I wouldn’t have been created, and this amazing article would never exist! (Just kidding, I don’t think this article is amazing. I’m hoping for encouraging.)

The moral of my mother’s story is that it is okay to take your time. It is okay to indulge in a hobby or an interest even if you know it’s not the exact thing you want to do in the end. Sometimes your ambitions and goals can even change. Those passions you are pursuing may lead you in a direction that you never expected. Don’t obsess about what you should be doing based on your age, or based off other people’s triumphs, because every person finds their way differently. You may not reach your personal successes until you’re older than you imagined—maybe not till you’re 30, or 40, or possibly 50—and that really is okay.

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