“Tis a fine spring morning here in Ohio, and I’m in yet another life change. I’ve known this was coming for a while – a little over four years in school seems like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things it’s really not. For some reason, I thought that as an older pers – ahem – a non-traditional student, I’d be a bit more immured to having to deal with yet another life change. I’m not twenty with this having been a significant fraction of my life to date. But the transitions really don’t get any easier to deal with as you get older. It’s not that I was in a rut, either, I’ve done enough changes in the last five years to keep anyone on their toes.
I find myself both excited for, and very nervous about, the new contract. This one is longer than the last – a year, rather than mere months. That helps to know I’ve got stability to look forward to. And this time I’m walking into a similar role to what I was doing, so I don’t have the sheer unknown looming before me. It’s still not easy. It’s never easy.
It is, on the other hand, good for me. Learning new skills, facing new challenges, these are the things that keep the brain active and flexible. Had I taken a somewhat more traditional route, I’d be mid-career and pretty settled. Which sounds good, and it’s definitely a goal, but there’s always that element of ‘what if?’
I’m finding out what if… what if I went back to school? Done that. What if I bang my toes against this wall of ‘new career, no experience’ long enough? Eventually, you kick a toehold. Long, long ago, when I was a much younger and more athletic (yeah, really. Don’t look at me like that. Just because I lost my plaque proclaiming me the fastest female cadet in NH…) woman, I learned how to rock-climb. Much of it is finding toe-holds. And then you reach up, feel around, and find something to hold onto… slowly, one hold at a time, you work your way up.
I’m not climbing a career ladder. I’m starting up a sheer cliff face, and trying not to look down as I go. Ladder implies smooth rungs and predictable distances between them.
I do have ropes. I have a writing career that is smouldering like a campfire banked for the night. Some serious effort (and a bit of capital) could bring it back to life again. I have the skills to restart the now-defunct Cedar’s FaceArt & Balloons, and this time I’d remake it to incorporate my daughters. I’m not free-climbing up this cliff. If I fall, it will be unpleasant, but it won’t be the end. Even without those ‘ropes’ on belay, I’d have other alternatives. After all, I’ve proven to myself, and others, that yes I am smart enough to be a scientist.
I’ve got no idea what’s at the top. Heck, I’m not even sure where the top is. I can’t see that from here. I can see ledges, and what I think are safer routes… and some of them I’m deliberately not choosing. I could go the easy way. But I want to try this route, first. And I’m not alone. The First Reader and I have talked about it, and I have some time to keep looking for toeholds and climbing before I have to call it quits – or call it a route that leads to something.
It’s all very exciting, and yet the day-to-day remains the same. I’ll try to blog more, but I don’t know much about the new schedule, other than I won’t be working weekends now. And while the last job was very physically demanding, this one might not be so much? Who knows. That’s still up there in the fog.