Saturday, 25 February 2012

Mid-Life Crisis?

As I near my mid-thirties I find myself experiencing a career crisis and I am wondering if the latter is just part of a bigger mid-life crisis. I am not even entirely sure when a mid-life crisis is supposed to occur, the only reference I have is that of the clich├ęd image of a forty-year old man swapping his wife and kids for a younger woman and a flashy sports car. My fortyyear old-ish husband is also having a midlife crisis of sorts although luckily for him he does not need to start hunting for a younger spouse as he was clever enough to marry me- a woman fourteen years younger. He is probably secretly desperate for a sports car but that is hardly going to materialise and anyway he now finds himself lusting after any car that is bigger than our VW… to fit all the bloody kids stuff (he complains whenever we leave London for a weekend).

His crisis, like mine, is to do with his career. He spent most of thirties (much like his twenties) in a rock n' roll band, touring and playing music. When the band broke up very suddenly when he was 44, he found himself at a loss: his passion and role in life had lost its meaning and he didn’t know where to turn… He decided to go to college and earned a distinction in the first proper qualification he has ever achieved, it gave him an unparalleled sense of pride although unfortunately not a job. He is now keeping busy with any work that comes along: painting, decorating, restoring furniture and still making music because as any artist knows, you can never simply stop doing the thing you feel you were put on this earth to do.

This is the place I find myself now, wondering what exactly I was put on this earth to accomplish. Are we all predestined to a particular life and career or are we masters of our futures, able to conjure up new starts and exciting prospects? I like to think that anything is possible in this life….

For the past six years I have worked as a massage therapist, something that I sort of fell into. I have loved every minute of it but during the last few years a little bit of doubt began to creep in… I hadn’t necessarily found my niche or specialism within the industry. I also knew that I would need to find a less physical element to my work in order for me to continue without causing damage to myself. I thought about Acupuncture, Nutrition, Yoga. My doubts coincided with a longing to have another child, something I had put off for a long time because of my work. Instead of facing the issues with my career, I steamed ahead with the notion of having another baby.  I stopped massaging for a good fifteen months and in this time I began to think whether I wanted to go back to my job after all….

So here we are, both my husband and I pondering over our working futures. Like him I have an unparalleled passion: something I have no doubt I was put on this earth to do: to write. I have written stories ever since the day I started reading books, I have poured my heart into journals, diaries and now blogs - to make sense of my life and of the world. I have attempted novels, short stories and even my half-finished projects have filled me with happiness. Whether it makes me money or not or makes any sense, I always feel compelled to write. 

Perhaps one day my writing will return a profitable gain but until then I need to pull in the coffers somehow. I have started thinking about jobs. I have always said that I would rather die than work in an office but as I mentioned in my last entry- I am now over the self-indulgent melodrama of my twenties. Still, if possible I would rather avoid spending all day sitting in a cubicle and instead do something more creative, more flexible, more interactive. I need to work with people and better still, to work towards helping people, I couldn't do a job without some kind of moral prespective… I would languish pretty quickly in anything to do with fashion or media.

So perhaps- like many others before me- I have fallen upon the idea of teaching. If anybody had suggested this to me in my twenties (which I think somebody once did) I would have laughed. No way! But I like to think that I have grown up a bit since then.

Recently I have become involved in my daughter's school life, I have read in class, joined the kids on school trips, helped with fundraising… and I have loved every minute of it. I have watched my daughter grow from a slightly unconfident and not very loud child to an all singing, all dancing brain box who gets very excited about going to school. I know a lot of this has to do with the teachers who have inspired and encouraged her. They have certainly inspired me. I have just spent a couple of weeks volunteering in a school and I was hit by a sudden epiphany. It felt completely natural to be working with the children and helping them with their learning. Despite the negatives: being called ugly on my fist day, trying to control a group of noisy seven year olds, hearing teachers complain about their twelve hour days, I still left with the feeling that yes, this was something I would really like to do...

Could I be a teacher? Long gone are the days when teaching was seen as a dowdy and lowly profession. 'Those who can’t teach' and all that malarky. Now the teaching world holds stiff competition with Oxbridge academics and other talented graduates battling for spaces on PGCE courses. 

I have my interview for a PGCE in two weeks, so really I should be researching that rather than writing this but- I woke this morning with a desperate need to get this down, for my own clarity but also because I know there are many others out there who are in the process of changing careers and shifting the patterns of their lives. If you are then come share your experiences… I would love to hear about them.

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