Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's the last hour of my 50th birthday. This blog's main purpose is to answer this question, over time and with feedback: Can someone like me successfully rebuild a lifestyle and career after age 50?

It was turning 50 that was the final impetus for leaving my profession, school librarianship, after 13 years and trying not only a new career, but a career that is freelance-based. At first glance this would seem like a poor choice: Leaving the full-time world with benefits for an unknown income and no benefits; trying to organize myself as a freelancer when I am quite sure I am ADD; because I am the sole support of myself and my daughter; and because "everyone knows" that you should never leave an old job without having a new one in its place.

I'll leave the reasons why this is a good choice, rather than a poor one, for subsequent posts.

For now, I'll talk about my birthday. I haven't actually celebrated it, with two exceptions (one reluctant), in 20 years. I hadn't wanted to. But yesterday, I posted this for my area friends on Faceook:

"...It's a scary birthday (I considered that old a mere 10 years ago) but that number, actually, was the impetus to change the direction of my life in a couple of ways. Anyway, I really haven't celebrated my birthday in over 20 years other than a cake with parents or going out for ice-cream here and there. Sometimes it was because I was traveling and that in itself made me happy enough without even thinking about my birthday. But in most cases I chose not to celebrate it at all because I saw no reason to celebrate another year gone by in the midst of bad working environments, bad marriage, money worries, not accomplishing goals, coming home exhausted and feeling like I couldn't work the way I did and be an attentive mother, etc. I decided a few months ago, however, that if 50 -- the prospect of entering middle age -- scared me that much, I had a choice to either embrace it or let it choke me. So, firstly, I changed the work situation so that I have more control over my work and money, risky as it is. Secondly, this year I am going to acknowledge my birthday and celebrate it. In a simple way, at home. If you are anywhere in the area, please stop by for a visit, as long or short as you like, at my house any time between noon and midnight. It's not a party, really, just a chance to come by."

For my local friends who aren't on FB, I dropped off a letter basically saying the same, and also apologizing to some for being so unavailable as a friend in the past year (again, another blog post). 

Not only did I decide to face this head on and take the initiative (something I hate when it involves something social), but I had to steel myself to the possibility that no one would show up. Not that I think of myself as an Eleanor Rigby, but most of my closest friends, and the people who know me best, don't live around here. Plus, I went through social hell in my most recent job, adults acting like middle school mean girls, and it destroyed what little self-confidence I have to begin with. So I told myself, Okay, put yourself out there, but if no one show up, no crying fits or grudge-holding is allowed. 

Actually, quite a few people did show up, and it was just what I wanted, just one to four people at a time, low key, pleasant, in my home. I would't have minded more... (scratch that no grudgefests allowed!). 

One thing about surviving a really, really bad professional situation: You develop nerves of steel  that allow you to put yourself in the position of inviting people even though you think no one will show up (now, nerves of steel is a once-in a while thing with me; no one would accuse me of demonstrating them regularly). 

Anway, they did show up, and now my birthday is over. Happy Birthday to me. 

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