It’s been a year now in California and although I’ve explored many an avenue in search of my next new career, I’ve come up dry. With all the freedom in the world, I’ve been trying to zero in on how I’ll spend the next 20 of my work years. What I’d like to do vs. what is practical has nearly cancelled itself out. What I’m left with is a bunch of dead ends and still nothing that screams to me what will bring me the greatest satisfaction and does the greatest good for those around me. I am, after all, in that period in my life where things must matter, or else there’s simply no point to it all.
In a way, these feel like the best years on my life, because I have more conviction than ever, and I know myself better than ever. I’m accepting of my morphing middle-aged physicality and I’m embracing the fact that I have traveled a unique lesson- and knowledge-drenched path to where I am today. Now, if I could only figure out what to do with it and who will appreciate and want what I have to offer. I feel I’m ready to really shine, to really do something great, and yet I’m all pumped up with no place to go.
Frustration is a close friend. We sit and commiserate over coffee, chide the ineffectiveness of online job listings, the nonexistence of real Help-Wanted ads in newspapers, the lack of resources for those that are unemployed but not ‘on unemployment’–the complete disconnect between jobseekers and the employers that might hire them.
In the end, I am left to my own ineffective devices in finding work. It’s the reason why many, like me, are spending a lot of time entertaining the idea of entrepreneurship when we don’t know a darn thing about it. If nobody will hire us, we seem to have no other choice but to hire ourselves. I’ve never had the stomach for self-employment. I love standing on a solid foundation and building upon it. Nothing about self-employment sounds solid to me. Then again, perhaps nothing about being employed by others is solid anymore either.
Acceptance joins Frustration and I at the coffee table. Together we three stumble forward with our problem-solving conversation, aware there remains an empty chair. Together, we wait for Opportunity to show its face. We remember when Opportunity used to stop by frequently–smiling, tipping its hat. I miss it. I’d do almost anything to see it again. Every day, I do something to open another door with the hopes it will saunter in and grace me with its presence. I’ve grown a little weary of present company–tired of grinning and bearing it with my coffee mates.
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A couple of weeks ago, I knew it was time to start volunteering. I’d put in a lot of hard work and put out a lot of positive vibes into the universe over the past year just trying to make things happen but nothing obvious was being reflected back. I surmised I wasn’t giving enough. When I began exploring volunteer opportunities, I stumbled upon a special program given by the state that provides a meaningful pathway to employment by combining professional development with volunteerism. They screen professionals through an application and interview selection process, and choose about 25 for their training program who are either trying to re-enter their line of work or are transitioning into a new field altogether. The program provides 10 weeks of career guidance and professional training to the chosen applicants. In exchange for all this great training, we volunteer 100 hours of our time to a non-profit organization. Yes, ‘I’ am now a “we” and I couldn’t be happier. Did I mention that I found this program on the internet just one day before the mandatory orientation and application cutoff? I love serendipity. It’s my guiding light. It lets me know when I’m on the right track.
I’ve gone through Week 1 already and my socks have officially been knocked off. We have some amazing instructors and a classroom full of energetic, dynamic professionals. I know I am blessed. I’ve just been injected with a mega-dosage of inspiration, and Opportunity–my dear old friend–has finally arrived. “Sit down, old pal . . . we’ve got some catching up to do.”
Follow the SERENDIPITY SERIES for More Serendipitous Revelations
Definition of SERENDIPITY:
The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
An instance of making such a discovery.