I shouldn’t be surprised. Tradition never did dictate the pathway of my life. When my girlfriends were marrying at 18 or 20 in the 1970’s I was going to college. While my friends had two, three or four children and are now welcoming grandchildren into their lives, I have remained childless. When many of the women of my generation hoped to work two or three years before “retiring” into the role of homemaker (a choice many of them eventually came to learn would not be in the cards for them) I began a career path that would be a part of my life for more than thirty years; and never expected it to be any different.
Why, then, would I be caught off-guard by the desire, the opportunity and the wide-eyed excitement of launching into a new career venture at the age of 50?
Why, indeed? I have always been a voracious reader, a student of the new and the strange. In high school I took a book out of the local library in an effort to teach myself Russian. Okay, so all of my ideas were not well grounded in reality. At least I had ideas and aspirations.
With the advent of the Internet, my outlet for seeking and communicating information peaked. Here, at last, was the medium I had waited for my whole life. At the tip of my fingers, in the comfort and privacy of my own home, I found the means of gathering information from sources around the world and the perfect way to absorb that information, digest it for my own purposes, and regurgitate it for the world to see and use in whatever form I saw fit.
There it was! The answer to my dreams and far reaching hopes. The perfect way to create a career on my own, be master of my own destiny and, perhaps most importantly, to be able to carry out the entire process from home.
Instead of starting the drawn-out process of the countdown to retirement, I chose instead to begin the process of counting down to lift-off on a new chapter of my life.
My greatest concern about retirement has never been what I would do with all that free time or whether I would be healthy enough to enjoy it. I’ve always been interested enough in the world around me to fill my days and my health has never yet brought me any real concerns to give me reason to expect anything but the best in the future. My fear has always been the concept of a fixed income for the rest of my life. I have seen the effects of inflation so far in my lifetime. I have no reason to expect the future to be different. Rather than choosing to deal with this dilemma by working for “the man” for the rest of my life, I chose to step outside my comfort zone and work for me. Not surprisingly, the idea of doing that for a long, long time into the future is a source of empowerment to me, not a source of overwhelming dread.
Who would have ever thought it? At 50, I am ready to take on a brave new world by offering my services online as a Virtual Assistant and freelance writer. The idea is exciting! Just as exciting is the fact that my new career is coming into its own nicely.
Would I ever have considered opening my own brick and mortar business? Probably not.
But the Internet, where my physical costs of doing business are manageable, has provided the fertile ground for my fertile imagination to flourish. I have the luxury of maintaining my standing in my thirty years plus job. I have the luxury of striking out on my own to see where it leads.
I never thought 50 would be a new beginning. I feel like I have as much time left in front of me as I have behind me.
Embracing the technology of the next generation, and not recoiling in horror at the prospect, has given this fifty-something a second life.