Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: The Midlife Transition
At midlife, I’m in transition…constantly.
Over the last year, in my early 50s, I’ve faced more challenging transitions than any other year of my life. It keeps me always somewhat on edge.
My life has been like a David Bowie song, minus the stutter:
Turn and face the strain…
As my kids reached the ages of 20 and 18 and I pursued a second career change, I have:
Left a full-time job in public relations after seven years, been unemployed and learned to live without a steady paycheck
Become a full-time graduate student
Scrambled to find part-time work, even trying out as a “coach” for a company that teaches soccer and educational skills to pre-school kids, something out of my element
Completed an internship in a new field, mental health counseling (therapy)
Adopted, to some degree, the minimalism approach to life
Switched from graduate school and the counseling internship to a six-day-per-week job as a tennis instructor for the late spring and summer months for a much-needed cash infusion
Moved from the D.C.-Baltimore suburbs to a Delaware beach town to work as a seasonal tennis instructor
Transitioned from married and family life to bachelorhood, living with two single roommates for my summer hiatus at the tennis resort
Adapted to an empty nest, with one child in college and another entering this fall
Acknowledged that my 20-year-old daughter really has become an independent adult, observing her navigate a semester abroad in France and travel around Europe
It’s been a lot of change for one year; most of it was of my own volition and some of it was thrust upon me. Overall, encountering transitions has been positive, though sometimes admittedly nerve-racking. It has kept me motivated, challenged and stimulated. One thing’s for sure: I have never been bored or complacent during this transitory period.
The transitions have required me to look within and summon my confidence and belief in myself, which has been something I’ve often struggled with. I’ve had to do this on a daily basis in both my counseling internship and tennis teaching job, working in environments that were completely unfamiliar and in positions where I’ve had to try to project confidence immediately with strangers.
The transitions will keep unfolding. I expect to graduate with the counseling degree in May 2017, and then embark on the new career for real, but in what capacity, I’m not sure. My son will move out for good to his campus dorm in August. I’m even thinking of moving from the area I’ve lived for the past 28 years to a smaller locale in the South, as I transition to the new career and seek a warmer, slower-paced, more gracious lifestyle more befitting of the minimalist philosophy.
Transitions have been healthy for me. At a time of midlife when many may be stagnating and biding time until a retirement of unknown purpose and activity, I feel optimistic and excited about my future and the opportunities and meaning transitions will bring.
For anyone contemplating a meaningful transition in midlife, I recommend taking the risk, or you may regret missing your window down the road.