Mid-thirties crisis or destiny?

Today is my last day at my current job. This day has been pre-meditated and stressed out about for months now, five months to be exact. Five months ago, I was standing in front of a closed door of lost opportunity, staring at it, crying, pounding on the door to open, but it never did. I cursed that door for a week or two until I finally turned around to see the blinding light of another door opening.

I walked through this new door of opportunity into what had actually been whispering to me for close to a decade. Back in 2006, I had read a book called Now Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. The book was a required read for employees where I worked at the Federal Courts as part of a monthly staff meeting book club for professional development. The results of discovering my top 5 strengths (Empathy, Fairness, Developer, Harmony and Restoration) is what started all the whispering. The book told me what I had already been feeling for years, that Information Technology wasn’t the right career path for me.  My natural “strengths” weren’t being utilized to their fullest capacity.  I wasn’t a high-powered IT executive, I was a “people nurturer/repairer”…. or something like that.

I wasn’t quite sure how to pursue my new path with only having experience and a Bachelors Degree in Information Technology but I quit my job after being there for 5 years.  I ended up taking a Business Analyst job at Ernest Health, it was a little more “touchy-feely” than the usual IT jobs.  In hindsight, I realize that God or the Universe (or whatever people like to call it these days) put me at Ernest Health for a reason because a month later, I discovered that I was pregnant. God wanted to make sure I was working in a stress free laid back environment and that I had a wonderful boss who would be understanding and flexible with my new role as a mother. God gave me that blessing and put me right where I needed to be for these past 6 years.

But throughout the last 6 years, I had still been hearing that whisper. The whisper of God reminding me of my destiny. I know that sounds like silly spiritual hippie talk.  But I was still sort-of unconsciously searching for how to align with my true path.  I was drawn to many volunteer opportunities and anytime I was supporting others, I felt at peace. I lost track of time. I felt fulfilled. I would job search for unemployed friends for hours. I would listen to hurting friends & strangers till 2am. I would want to figure out their problems, take their emotional pain away, mediate, and support them until I was blue in the face. I wanted to be out helping people more than I wanted to be at my paid job or even at home with my own family. It was a very strange conundrum.

While I was filling up my extra time with all of this extra stuff. I realized that it was because I simply wasn’t fulfilled at work for 8 hours a day so I was trying to fill the void in other ways. I did alot of soul searching and it all went back to those whispers, Myers Briggs tests, and my natural “strengths”…. the answer to the question that had been eluding me was finally revealed. I needed to take the leap, make a change.

Since opening that new door of opportunity five months ago, I’ve been preparing to embark on a new career path. A career in Social Work. I go back to school on August 22.  I will be doing clinicals or practicum (i.e. working for free) as a Social worker at Albuquerque Public Schools for my first year of school, and then at Children Youth & Families (CYFD) for the 2nd year of school.  I also was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from CYFD for the Child Welfare Scholar program.  Thank you to Michele Tigelaar & Bobbie Burkdoll for the obviously amazing letters of reference for all of these applications over the past few months.

I know I’m not going to change the world.  I know I’m going to get burned out by all the sadness and wrongs at some point, but I’d rather get burned out doing something that I’m meant to be doing rather than something I’m not.  I know it’s somewhat late in the game (i.e. going back to school for a Masters degree and a career change at age 35) but I just couldn’t imagine myself working in Information Technology for the next 30 years, till I’m 65.  Part of me feels really selfish, quitting my job and doing this now while my kids are young but I felt like it would actually make me a better Mom to be able to do something that I’m hopefully good at and will thrive at for 8 hours a day.  It’d be a disservice to my family to continue to do something that my heart isn’t really “in”.

So cheers to closing one chapter and opening a new one!!  This has been a long time coming.  I’m nervous but excited!  I finally get to channel my natural strengths into a tangible career path, some people never figure out what they’re truly meant to be doing with their life, and I feel lucky that I have.  And with that I leave with a Steve Jobs quote:

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