Today, I turned another year older. If you’d asked my 20-year-old self where I’d be and what I’d be like at this age, I don’t think she would have had a clear answer. I was still on the road to becoming a poet at that point. At 30, I’d given up becoming a poet, and instead aimed to be a professor. And at 40, I’d given up being a professor and headed to K-12, where I am happily working now and where I still feel like I’ve got more good work to do.
My trajectory from 20 to 48 may look haphazard, but life throws you curve balls, and I made some very deliberate decisions along the way. I got wiser in how I thought about my career and what was important to me. And I continue to reevaluate every year. Right now, I have a sense of where I want to be in 5 years or 10 years, but I also know that I need to be open to new opportunities, to changes in my personal life, and to respond to current feelings I have about my own career context.
Thanks to this blog, I can look back ten years and see where my mind was at the time. Ten years ago, I was finishing up my dissertation. Although my blog posts don’t reveal it too much, I was starting to consider leaving my job. I was struggling to balance everything: work, family, dissertating. My work was unsatisfying in many ways, though I know I kept trying to find ways to set goals and do work that felt more satisfying. In the end, I couldn’t make it work. It was a year-and-a-half later that I left without a solid job in hand to explore my options. That was a huge risk, but I’m so glad I took it. Had I left for another job, I might not have been open to the opportunity presented by my current employer. It would have been too soon to jump ship or I would have been going down a completely different path.
I’ve moved more solidly in the administrative direction since I started over six years ago, but it turns out, it’s work I love. The experiences I’ve had in my haphazard path to get where I am now have all helped me do my work better. And I’m constantly learning new things. A post from 2007 is still relevant today. The work I do as an administrator requires me to use my intellect in ways that I don’t think a job as a professor ever would have. I’ve always enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy the challenge of teaching, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that the challenges of administration are equally fulfilling.
I can’t guarantee that ten years from now I’ll be in the same spot career-wise. But I do know that I’ve gained the wisdom to take on whatever comes next. One thing I can say looking back is that my life has never been boring, and I suspect that it never will be, if I have anything to say about it.