There is a moment in single 30-something woman’s life who just HAPPENS to be in the midst of career reinvention that changes everything. If you can manage not to let it swallow you whole, you can use it to your advantage.
I didn’t plan this life — to be single at 38. It wasn’t what I imagined. As I neared a crucial part of my last career change process, it touched on more than just professional fulfillment, finances, and the planning of my next 20 years. The loneliness became at times unbearable (yes even WITH a considerable amount of saved money and paying clients!).
It is just different when you are single — not better, not worse. At the end of the day knowing you are truly all you’ve got, the pressure mounts. I don’t have children, but I can imagine this pressure increases exponentially if you have mouths to feed other than your own (hey, single chics can live on protein bars and apples if we have to!)
I have a literal list of good friends I could fill every night of the week with, and a big crazy Italian family that still makes pasta on 3pm at Sundays but that doesn’t always cut it. If I was married to a husband that made 50k a year, 500k a year or was even unemployed; regardless if our money was merged or not, I would have killed to look over at someone as I fell asleep to say “Babe — are we going to be ok if things are tight this month?”
So what did I do?
I threw it back old school style and PICKED UP A BOOK. Otherhood by Melanie Notkin gives a voice to a population of single childless women who didn’t necessarily plan their current reality. You don’t need to live in New York City or be in Melanie’s exact industry to find the gold in this anecdotal account of this seemingly unrepresented population of women
My Amazon book review was written as I gently closed the cover, tears streaming down my face, with an inner knowing I had tapped into a pain I needed to for some time:
“Some books are books, others are a journey. What an exquisite, cathartic, and beautifully heartfelt look into the tapestry of a woman's heart. If you are of the age where you expected life would look a certain way and have found yourself standing in the unexpected, your validation is waiting in the pages of Otherhood. You will cry, heal, smile, and heal some more. My heartfelt thanks and admiration goes to the humble grace of Melanie Notkin?. We were once an unknown statistic. Now we are a community.”
What would a blog be without my “top three career change insights” after reading Otherhood? Here you go:
1. I realized that because my personal life hadn’t worked out as planned, I’d put a lot of pressure on my career to fill certain emotional needs that it wasn’t intended to. It was the one constant thing in my life for so long, I didn’t realize how I’d relied on it too much to provide happiness. I stopped searching for the “perfect set up” and started seeing my career as only part of what fulfilled me in life.
2. I allowed myself to mourn the past 15 years of relationships that didn’t work out and the wedding and baby that never was. I got to the core of my pain and cried it out (this made dating and career change MUCH easier!). This cleansing was invaluable as I sought out to reinvent myself. You can only truly create from NOTHING.
3. I stopped planning my career based upon waiting for love. I had stayed in education longer than I wanted to because I figured it was a great set up for being a wife and mother. Now I saw everything and anything available to me career wise and new ways to still be open to partnership and potential motherhood.
So to “all the single ladies:” stay the course. We are all we’ve got in some respects and paradoxically we are NOT alone. Your life, your career, your desires are just as valid and real as anyone else’s. I’ve learned to appreciate the extraordinary gift to have had this time with myself. Savor it and go forth and reinvent not just your career, but all of you.
Stephanie Licata is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.