Postponing the dream

I turned 46 years old last week.Β  No big deal in most ways. I got over most of the stuff about being in my mid 40s the previous year, when on surveys and questionnaires I suddenly went from the 40-44 box to the 45-49 box. (had a good day though, thanks everyone for the Twitter and Facebook birthday wishes).

Then I started thinking, only four years until I turn 50. Which in turn made me think about what I have achieved so far in life. Well, to begin with I was only thinking about my working life.

I had wanted to be a librarian since I was in Grade 6.Β  And I did it, went straight through school, into uni and started my first job the week after classes finished.Β  When I first started work, I was happy to be working as a librarian, so didn’t think too much about career directions, but then I got some experience and decided I did want to climb the tree and get into senior management. And I was on the track, until I got married and had kids, when priorities changed.

And here I am approaching the big 5 0 and it hasn’t happened and because of other things in my life, I don’t know that I will see it happen before I get there. And that hit me like a ton of bricks. The disappointment mainly. I have a lot to give in terms of knowledge, experience, ideas, enthusiasm and more. I felt I was missing out on the opportunity to do something significant, at that higher level and that was hard to accept. What was even harder, was realising that its nobody’s fault.

That was hard to accept as well, knowing that its not my work place’s fault, nor my family’s, or even mine. Its just the way life is working out for me. There are bigger priorities in my life that preclude me from pursuing that dream at this time.

I was talking to a workmate about it and she reminded me that the dream wasn’t dead, it was just the timeline needed adapting. And then amazingly, another workmate, whose birthday is close to mine and is of a similar mind, said something that really settled it for me. It was along the lines of, even though I’m not in the place I expected to be in my career, I have the most amazing family in the world. And even if my career never gets to where I dream it could be, I would not change it for the world, because of them.

But in the meantime, while the dream may be late, or may even be dead, that doesn’t mean I need to be the same in my profession. So I’ll continue my learning journey and I will continue with sharing my craft with those who are interested, from informal situations at work to conference presentations, articles and of course, this blog. I still have a lot to give, even if the giving is not where I dreamed it would be at this stage of my life.

And you never know, life has a way of surprising you……………………..



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  1. Here’s how I do it: it isn’t a career or even a profession. I don’t dream career – just leave it as a job and plan for the next few things. Then less likely to be disappointed and not get in over my head. I get in trouble if I start the career thing or even the upward mobility stuff. I’ve learn’t to avoid that kind of thing.

  2. Glad you have found what works for you, I’m working on it for myself and appreciate your input.

    • feebee on June 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Hey Michelle, maybe as women it is damn hard to have it all. Two women I know who have made it to the top have partners that work part-time and they work from home. I have just moved back to part time and lost some prestige but the whole work life equation had become so out of whack. I am the same age as you, and would have liked to make more of a difference, esp. because I had things to offer!!! Family is great, but I reckon we have to live with a bit of disappointment at not cracking the whole career high!
    Thanks for your honest and heartfelt post.

  3. I agree, its the wanting it all and not being able to have it that is the most difficult to deal with. After all, we are superhuman, lol. Thanks for the comment though, it helps more than I can say, to know that there are others out there dealing with the same sorts of things as me.

    • Gemma on June 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks for the post Michelle. I really value you talking about these topics as I am just at the start of what you are going through. I have a 2 year old boy and a 4 month old boy. Both the best things in my life and all they need to do is smile if times are tough and my disappointments slide away. Definitely a hard road ahead though! Thanks again, Gemma

  4. Thanks for your encouragement Gemma, its much appreciated. Its not all hard though, just the occasional rough stretch, so be encouraged in return. πŸ™‚

    • feebee on June 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Another thing worth keeping in mind is that perhaps there is prospects further on, because there seems to be a massive shortage of qualified staff out there in library land. We just need to play it carefully, because we could get squeezed in the middle by the young, enthusiastic and not much experience and those close to retirement. So don’t sell yourself short, if you want it, perhaps it might be there!! Hope this makes sense.

  5. Yes it does make sense and thanks!

  6. Oh! This is very close to home, we are of a very similar age and I too am looking at turning 50 & what that might mean in my (newly) chosen career. I don’t think I want to do this particular job for the rest of my life – do I want to be senior management? I’m not sure – but I know I wouldn’t change the time I took off to spend with my kids so if it doesn’t happen I won’t mind too much πŸ™‚

  7. Its nice to be reminded about the truly important things in life and although I would like to leave my mark in libraries, the better mark one to leave is with my children. Thanks!

  8. Great advice, thanks!

    • Hana on June 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

    lovely heartwarming post Michelle!

    Life is a journey and we must remember to enjoy the ride.

  9. It certainly is, but its good to be reminded every now and then. Thanks.

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