At my age, there are any number of career tracks with sphincter issues due to age discrimination. Around forty-five people seem to wonder if you are too old for a job. I now have the satisfaction of being acquainted with several individuals who have passed the significant milestone. Some twenty or more years prior, their comments about me being over the hill were unwelcome. My condolence cards celebrating their redundancy have not been popular. I took one of my former colleagues to lunch a few months ago. It was interesting.
His career plans are now askew. Being that he considered himself to be safe, he never invested in plan B’s. Many of us older compatriots were eagerly working on “just in case” plan C’s and D’s, having learned bitter lessons about how plan A can go wrong.
I told him that in his prior employment, he may have been a top-of-the-pyramid predator; a raptor stalking the flock. But now he was another newly unemployed with issues. It hurt when they told him that he was not promotable. I mentioned that his job now is to be a staunch supporter of himself as a human being, not as a piece of meat on the job market.
After talking about him for an hour, he asked what I’d been doing. Well, after two years of unemployment, I went to work at an awful place – but it paid full benefits for my family. I started two small businesses as a videographer and as a woodcarver. Eventually, I moved from breaking even to doing well. Currently, work is very low-stress. I have almost no meetings or video conferences, the people I work for appreciate what I do, and I no longer bother with a resume. I want to return to journalism or maybe teach again, but those plans are still developing.
You see, I tell him, you learn to be flexible; in Bob Dylan’s words, “…he who is not busy being born is busy dying.”