I’m about to turn twenty-six years old and I’m currently considering a drastic career change. It would involve going back to school for several years and adapting to a totally new lifestyle than the one I’m living now. Many aspects of my life would be different if I decide to take this leap.
The majority of my thoughts on the matter are positive: I am capable, I can do whatever I put my mind to, this new path will be more than worth it in the long run.
But some of my thoughts aren’t nearly as supportive: You’re not smart enough to go back to school, the path will be too long and challenging, you’re too old to be a student again, and so on.
These negative thoughts are clearly influenced by fear, anxiety, and a dash of societal bullshit.
I somehow picked up the idea that the most of us go to college, graduate, and land a dream job that will last a lifetime, but this simply isn’t true for many people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the results of a survey that found baby boomers born between 1957-1964 held an average of eleven different jobs between the ages of 18-50.
Real life is messier than it is portrayed in the movies. It isn’t linear. It’s a big jumbled mess of highs, lows, loops, and left turns. The only constant in life is change.
Illustrations like the above help me challenge those negative thoughts, as well as trying to examine those thoughts and mess with their original logic. Not smart enough? My 3.8 GPA in college respectfully disagrees. Going back to school will take too long? Two or three years of miserably working in New York City certainly flew by, so going to school for something I’m passionate about for that same amount of time will be worth it. Plus, time is a social construct. Too old to be a student again at twenty-six? That is an ageist concept and it’s disrespectful to the many people in my life who have been students well into their senior years. I will never be too old to learn.
To combat my fear about this change, I’ve also been reminding myself of some other major changes that have happened throughout my life that I managed to adapt to and grow from. I moved from New York to North Carolina when I needed to eliminate a toxic part of my life. I transformed from a picky eater to an eater with a more diverse palate to an experimental vegan. I discovered my birth family history and expanded my definition of what family means in a few short years. I continue to explore and define religion and spirituality on my own terms after being raised in organized religion. I got help for unhealthy mental patterns and changed my thought processes with the help of a therapist.
If you’re considering a major change related to career, lifestyle, identity, or any other part of your life, I firmly believe you should follow your desires regardless of how many hoops you’ll have to jump through. It is never too late to change your path. Here’s why:
- You only have this life and moment. If you’re not generally content with it and have the ability to make things better, then you should.
- With each passing day, you have more life experience. You’ve made more mistakes, had more hard times, and have a better understanding of who you are and what makes you feel good. Your increasing wisdom will guide you to make the correct changes for yourself. My eighteen year-old self didn’t really have a concept of what I wanted in the long run, but twenty-five year-old me has a better idea
- Only you have walked in your shoes. Everyone has a different pace with how they accomplish life goals. Comparing your path to others is not helpful if it’s destructive. You deserve to make the changes you want when you want to. On the other hand, look to the people in your life who have gone through big changes for inspiration. You were likely supportive of those changes because you want people in your life circle to be happy. Show yourself the same support!
- Money may be a concern, but it doesn’t have to completely hold you back from changing your life. You may have to be crafty when it comes to stretching and making the most of your resources, but you can figure it out. Get that scholarship, learn how to budget, and cut down on extra unnecessary spending if you have to. If the change truly matters to you, then it will be worth the financial stress.
- Technology is more helpful than ever. The internet is your oyster when it comes to learning a skill. On YouTube alone, there are millions of tutorials to discover. Want to learn to cook healthier meals, to build your own DIY projects, to make an environmental impact? There is an online resource for that and many are free. There are online college courses than can make it easier to achieve a degree from home. Take advantage of the time we’re living in.
- Age should not impact whether you should make a change. Don’t let the illusion of time convince you that you can’t do something. Quitting smoking at any age can make a positive impact on your health. Your career can blossom at any age, like it did for Kathryn Joosten and other so-called “late bloomers.” People end unhealthy relationships and marriages and go on to find love later in life or thrive as single people. Believing that you’re too old to do something is self-limiting. If you truly want to change your life, it can be done at any age.
- Change doesn’t have to be big, overwhelming, or immediate. You can make a change by taking small steps over a period of time that add up to be significant. If the thought of a drastic measures are discouraging you from making a meaningful change, then set your own pace and go forward.
- You cannot control everything in life, but there are certain things you do have power over. If making a necessary and desired change is one of the things you can control, why wouldn’t you?
The bottom line is that you are capable and deserve to live the life you want to live. It’s never too late to change your life. Don’t ever question that!
I’ll definitely share my career change journey once I complete some important first steps. Thank you to anyone who has stumbled upon this blog and has read it despite my recent lack of new posts. I appreciate the support and hope to post more consistently in the future!