Today is my birthday, and I’m now 53. About a month ago, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. These are events that were once far out in the future in our minds, but they have now come to pass. Naturally, we reflected back on our lives. We talked about the dreams we had when we started our lives together, the obstacles that came our way to modify those dreams, the decisions we made regarding our family life, and the current state of things. It was with reluctance that we decided I would have to go back to working for somebody else (as opposed to working for myself at home), in order for us to afford the short-term medical and dental expenses to fix my temporomandibular joint disorder and save up to be able to have the retirement we’d dreamed of.
So the past 2 weeks had been an eyeopener for me, as I put myself out there again on the block to be judged by prospective employers. I wasn’t surprised by the world out there. I already know what that’s like. I was surprised by my reaction to it.
How can I put every experience in 25 years that’s not defined by a job title or salary range onto a piece of paper? Let me tell you a summary of my last 25 years that no resume will ever be able to show you. I have devoted the last 25 years of my life to the most important project and the biggest accomplishment of my lifetime. I’ve raised 6 human beings from infancy into adulthood. I’ve filled their hearts with love, given them confidence, shown them how to love others unconditionally, and encouraged them to be a light wherever they go. To accomplish this goal, I’ve learned to do many things to either trim our budget, or make some supplemental income so that we can still have food on the table. I’ve learned to sew, cook, cut hair, diagnose and fix computers, and extend the life of any broken things that can be fixed with household tools. I’ve been able to make some money with some of these skills. But if you measure my worth by how much I was earning in dollars for the past 25 years, I wouldn’t be worth very much at all, especially if you compare this to the potential earnings I could have had if I’d continued to work outside the home for somebody else. But, for 25 years, despite the economic hardship, I remained dedicated to the goal of being home with my children. And for 30 years, through thick and thin, I kept my commitment to the one man I love.
This strength in character and determination to succeed cannot be quantified on a resume, nor can it be reflected in any job application. Back in the days, you could meet the person who’d be hiring you, and you’d have a chance to show them your character. But today, your application goes to the HR department, and you’re judged by how well you can make yourself look good on paper. No wonder we have such a high rate of people who are depressed in this country!
I noticed a difference between this time and the last time I was looking for a job 30 years go. I’m not as affected by the rejection as I was before, and I’m not as desperate to settle either. I know who I am and what I want now, and unlike before when I could be easily intimidated, today I am free. Yes, I am free! I’m free from being affected by other people saying “No” to what I want to accomplish. Back then, 30 years ago, I listened to them when they said I was too young, did not have the experience, or was wrong gender, or wrong race, etc., to do what I wanted to do. I’m hearing the same thing today, except it’s now “You’re too old” instead of “You’re too young”. Well, I’ve learned that it is I who will have to live with my decisions, not anyone else. It is I who will regret letting the naysayers stop me from doing what I want to do. I care less now what others think of me than I did 30 years ago.
What do I want to do? I want to expand my knowledge and experience about computer and networking, and start a new career in Information Technology. Yes, at the age of 53. I’ll be competing in the market with people who are 3 decades younger than me. But I’d rather try and fail, than to not try because they say I’m too old. I’d rather go to my grave having studied hard and not get all the certifications I wanted to get, than to back down because they doubt I can do it. It’s going to be a hard climb to convince the companies that it’s a good investment of their resources to train me, but somewhere out there is a company who still values character over pieces of paper or youth, and will be willing to give me a chance. I’ll just have to keep filling out applications and uploading resumes until I find that company.
Let me tell ya, it sure feels good to be free!