At the ripe old age of 41, I have held 27 jobs in my life. I have two degrees, and 1 year of nursing school under my belt. At present, I consider myself CEO of my family life, and a writer. I have no plans to have a traditional career, writing is it for me, as it has always been. As I type this, I’m sitting in my local drinking cider. Ironically, through all 27 or so roles, I have been a writer. Sometimes I miss the obvious.
I think my mother and those close to me always kind of despaired at my tendency to go after one career after another.
Oh shit, I just remembered another. Okay, 28.
The truth is, my curiosity and excitement about the world has always driven me from one area to another. I loved the sense of integrating a new facet to my personality, a new skill set. I loved meeting new people. I loved the different outfits, haircuts, lingo, priorities. I adored the sense of potential in beginning something new. I was addicted to that adolescent sense of wonder, of freshness and excitement. The meeting of new people who are unfailingly nice to you in the beginning (even the office twat) and the sense of acceptance and forgiveness of errors that came with being a nube. I loved adding new and sometimes obscure talents to my skill set; loved being able to whip out that information at a moments’ notice. I considered myself a connoisseur of skill sets. I can show you all the parts of a rifle or shotgun and how to load it, shoot it, and clean it. I can tell you what a good taxidermy mount looks like. I can tell you when to plant, and where to plant perennials. I can give you tips and tricks to help you keep traction and comfort in that deep ho heel we all sometimes buy because it was on sale and the color was perfect with your Christmas dress. And why farting in yoga class is totally okay and acceptable. I LOVED KNOWING ALL THE THINGS.
When I was younger, I always felt kind of bad about my tendency to look for the next role, take on the next challenge. My parents’ era was very different: you found a job (hopefully with a pension, great benefits, etc) and you stayed there for the next 40 years. You retired. Took Casino trips to Regina or Sturgeon Falls. Rinse. Repeat. In some ways, I feel like I was born just a decade too early: in todays fast paced and social media-connected society, it isn’t uncommon to wear many career hats, often at the same time. I love that. I love the entrepreneurship of it. I love the learning of the rules and the breaking of them. It says to me that society is growing to understand and accept that human beings are multi-faceted, often contradictory animals that refuse to pay more than $40 for an oil change, but pay $300 for a vibrator. And that’s okay.
Crap. I forgot about that summer in college I was a landscaper. 29.
In contrast to my hopping, my husband has stayed dedicated to one career, in the high tech sector. He was one of those eager beavers that finished high school at 17, and left home to go straight to University. (If you lived in Tinytown, Saskachewan with one main road and only one liquor store, you would too.) And that is also okay. Actually, it’s great. He’s the yin to my yang, the grounding to my dreamer-self. I mean, not that he isn’t imaginative and dedicated to self exploration and improvement: far from it. As we have gone on together in our life together, he adds more dreamer to his personality, and I add more practicality to mine. But I digress.
Oh, yes, those two years I tutored. 30.
There does, however, come a point in one’s life where you really should make an effort to settle into something. I have the burning need to create something all my own. To contribute in some way, something, that is wholly mine. This drive most recently led me to a year of nursing school, then on to work for a non-profit as an Executive Assistant. The itch remained unscratched. I volunteered at my girls’ school. Still itchy.
Then I really dug down into what remained constant in the day to day of my life. When I put aside all the volunteering (which only takes a day of my week), quit my Executive Assistant job, settled back in to my home life, what remained?
I got an idea. An idea for a book, for a series. I sat on the idea for three months. Scribbled here and there. Took a book out of the library out of curiosity on the subject. Then I finally faced it.
I have always wanted to write. I have always written something, journals, stories, something. I have stacks of writing. I had loved to write all through High School and University, but the thought of being an author and how hard and long a road it can be put me off, and honestly, when I reached out in high school and University to teachers and professors about being a writer, they always emphasized how hard it is, how few people become successful authors. Lacking the confidence in myself that I have now, I would walk away and enroll in another art class or history class. I’d stuff my writing in my closet and move on. But now…
I was going to be staying home until the girls were in University, my husband and I had decided that was best for our family. And so nothing else remained to distract me from it. Nothing else to get into the way. What did I have to lose? Absolutely nothing. I stood everything to gain. And my fear of beginning kind of fell away. It was bizarre.
So in January, I started doing serious research into my ideas. I started calling myself a writer. And two things happened.
The itch went away.
People and opportunities started coming into my life that added to my pursuit of writing that have made me happier than I have ever been in my life. Some of the women I have met are simply incredible.
What was also great was suddenly, all these careers I had, and my education, really came in handy. This knowledge became useful. It became incredibly applicable. I can write characters that are flight attendants, yoga teachers, or servers, with all the insider lingo that goes along with them. I can write about hunting and firearms. I can spin stories about retail, manufacturing, tutoring and gardening. I can write about cults and being a student. I can write about a University student who dates her Professor. Plus, whenever my information about these fields needs to be filled in further, I know exactly where to go, and who to contact, to get the information I need. Suddenly, my whole life of being a serial careerist felt … validated. A positive, rather than a negative. At my first Romance Writers of Alberta meeting in September, I felt among my tribe! I was like a person in Chapters or online on Amazon with no budget! I felt relaxed and confident, eager and happy.
I’ve since formulated goals to shoot for in my writing, and that feels great. Even learning effective goal-setting had been done through a previous career. I’m so thankful now for the seminar that company sent me on to learn about strategic goal setting!
Come to think of it, that makes 31 roles.
Man, it goes on and on!
Having said all that, I am aware of how difficult it is to make it as a writer, to break through and sell your novels. But I feel like this is my time. This is what I am supposed to be doing, and I will be successful. I have the patience, the life experience, and the will to do exactly what I am doing. I have amazing people surrounding me. And that, more than anything, tells me that I am in the right space: when you are doing what is truly right for you, you are surrounded by the right people, you attract to your life that which will make you successful. It seems easy. There are times when it will be tough, but initially, it feels easy and right. You make goals and adjust them. Perhaps I self publish. Perhaps I go to that writer conference I have planned to attend in 2018, make my pitch, and get signed by a publisher and an agent. I don’t know yet.
All I know is that I am no longer itchy. The journey so far is true and fucking awesome.
Carrie is an avid outdoor woman. She camps year round, skis downhill and cross-country, and can often be seen riding around on her midlife crisis, a floral covered Elektra cruiser bike named "Fancy". She started collecting tattoos at 36 years old and plans on continuing until she's out of space. Carrie strongly believes that being outdoors, travelling, expressing yourself honestly and creativity are the keys to a happy life.
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