New career? New side-hustle? New creative passion? What's next for you? An open thread...
I went to law school at 40, practiced law for 20+ years, then earned an MS in counseling at 70. I'm almost 72 and loving my second year of full-time mental health counseling. I'm fortunate to have good health and that matters a lot. Mostly, I followed a sense that I was needed somewhere, by someone.
At 65, I have so many thoughts on this. I never fulfilled any of my dreams, and am thinking a lot about how I can do more of that now. It's possible and also it's different. I really, really loathe when people say "it's never too late," because for some things it is - and I think the people who say that usually already have the thing I'm wanting and it was easy for them, or they read some story about a 90-year-old skydiver not understanding that it's an interesting story precisely because it's an outlier.
At 57 I was hired in a millennial tech start-up, where I worked until the pandemic shut the company down. In many ways I loved it, I was challenged by it, I was proud of the work I did, and I found some real friends there. It was also incredibly hard and stressful and there was a lot of micro-aggressive ageism.
This past year, I undertook a certificate program in a type of museum work where I thought I might be able to fulfill a long-held deep love of museums and use some skills (retirement is not an option, I need to work for real money). I'm now supposed to do an internship. I can do it, but I wonder how I'll be received, and if there will be any beneficial outcome for me. I've loved the learning, and in fact would love to go back for a Masters, but again, there are financial and time tradeoffs and there is ALWAYS a layer of knowing I don't fit in and am atypical.
I'm also an artist who's never committed to being a professional artist and selling work. Although my situation feels precarious that's something I'd like to do.
So I guess I want to say that yes, it's possible, it's exciting, it's scary, it's wildly uncomfortable to try to do the thing when you're old. There are costs and there are limitations, as there always are. I firmly believe in lifelong learning and lifelong creativity. And yet, most of the breathless "it's never too late" clichés don't really ever tell the whole story. It can also feel lonely, and you have to be able to tolerate (at best) people "youngsplaining" to you how to do simple things and how the world works, and at worst, real resistance to you being in a space where old people typically aren't.
I always dreamed of singing in a rock band then at 77 I published my debut novel and never looked back 😍
Retired, l recently discovered a local community theater needed people for a play. So l auditioned and landed a small part. Never dreamed that it would be so much fun. I am hooked, just auditioned for another play. Enjoying the experience of learning and meeting people with similar interests.
So far in 2023, my freelance writing and editing business has been slower than usual. To offset the income loss, I started working for a pet-sitting business. I now walk dogs and visit cats on a part-time basis. I absolutely love it. It pairs beautifully with writing/editing, since it gets me out and about, guarantees exercise, doesn't involve screens, and ensures interaction with a bunch of delightful animals who make me laugh (and are teaching ME new tricks).
I’ve always secretly wanted to be a singer-songwriter. When I was a kid, I loved playing around on the piano. I couldn’t read music or tell you which key was which note, but I would spend hours playing the melodies from my head. I stopped when I realized I wasn’t good enough to do something (make money) with it. Lately I’m finding myself back at the piano again, playing around and writing songs like I did as a kid.
I decided peri/menopause was just so freakin' hellish, I started a simple side-hustle obsessively curating a better experience for women one product at a time. It's a little like consumer reports for menopause. I call it The Empress Age because I'm so sick of the patriarchy always implying that there are only 3 phases of a woman's life: Maiden/Mother/Crone. I think there's great power in the messy middle... between the Mother and the Crone phases and I wanted to give it some deep grace and humor.
Wowsers, did this come at the right time! Totally relate to your 7 yro self who wanted to be *all of the things*. As a mid-30 yro, I'm feeling that same urge more and more. I'm in tech/software/AI but desperately want to also be an artist, writer, musician, tour guide, bar tender, tradesperson building stuff, motor bike courier, haha a bit of everything that works with all my crazy passions. Why do we have to be just one thing?!
SAME, girl, same. My third grade ambitions as recorded in my notebook were "author, teacher, singer, and concert pianist." Today, I'm a writer, a teacher, and last year I did do some singing on a stage... (I never did get up to concert pianist level of play.) As I get older I'm happier digging into the feelings I think a dream might bring me, then leaning into where I can feel those in my life...
I always fantasized about being a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson! Probably can let go of that one... 😝 But freedom, joy in moving my body, getting lost in music--those are all totally available to me in my current life if I recognize and go after them!
At 85, i pivoted from professor to memoirist. Neither would have made sense at 7. What could I profess about? Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans?
What could I remember? Kindergarten?
Short-order cook in a chrome diner remains an option--but only after I finish my book about Fran and me. I hope diners are still around by then.
I have been doing the same thing for years: teaching, writing and editing. Nothing exciting there. For inspiration, I turn to my friend Marcia Butler, who has lived multiple lives. Her first career was as a professional musician; then she studied to become an interior designer and had a successful career in New York; then she studied some more and became a writer (published a memoir and two novels, with a fourth under submission). She also has a great eye (you can follow her on IG). She clearly did not listen to any 7 year old's career advice!
I went from legal secretary to high school teacher to waitress/writer to yoga instructor/dog walker/actress to casting director to indie producer to writer/director and at 43- finally returned to writing CFN again. I had my first essay published in Khôra last month, and subsequently in Memoir Monday. My first short film as writer/director will be at the American Pavillion during Cannes next month.
I am writing and substitute teaching elementary school and volunteering teaching meditation and single parenting two young boys.
I also didn't come out as queer until last year.
We can be as many things as we want. Life is both (too) short (not to try) and long (enough to eat from every corner of the buffet).
I was a music therapist, working with adults with intellectual disabilities. I've been really considering becoming a psychotherapist to destigmatize mental healthcare in older Asian populations.
As a small one, I really thought that traveling around in a van and solving crimes with my friends was a viable career option. I knew there wouldn't be a talking dog but I had set my hopes on spooky crime solver for hire.
I don't want to grow up. I like being old, but I don't want to be a grownup.
Oh, goodness! There are so many things I still want to do at 51. The first one is to get a book published. Then I want to travel and teach. I'd love to start a little cottage-interior design business because I think I've got a good eye and I love colors and patterns and room layout. And right before the pandemic hit, I started fronting a rock band for the first time, which I'd always dreamed of. But both my bandmates were older than me, one of them was a cancer-survivor, and the other turned out to be a vaccine-denier so there went that. I'd still like to front a rock band.