At a recent gathering with friends, I met a female doctor who is in her late forties. We talked about work and careers, then she revealed that she had only been a doctor for about five years. Wow! She initially studied political science, and after years of working here and there, she woke up one day and said she wanted to become a doctor. She started studying, wrote the exams, and got into school. She moved all the way from political science to medicine! Of course it couldn’t have been as simple as she made it sound, so naturally, I was so inspired. I asked the doctor why she made that change, and she said it’s because she knew she’d never feel fulfilled if she didn’t do it.
See ehn, dealing with a career change or other transitions can be life-defining. Now, as someone who left Nigeria for the uncertain terrain of literary writing, I can say that changing careers after being relatively settled in one thing can be nerve wracking, there are days that I wonder: Omo! Who sent me o? It is more so because we live in a society that worships youth accomplishment. There are all these lists of people who achieved things under the age or 30, sometimes under the age of 25. It’s almost as if society is telling us that once you get to a certain age, you are fixed; you become cemented in certain version of yourself, without the option or capacity for change. We must reject this narrative. No matter how old you are, or where you are career-wise, you will always be capable of growth. Sometimes this growth can be getting better at what you do, acquiring new skills, becoming more resourceful. However, this growth can also mean giving up on the familiar and starting a new trajectory. See, everything is possible.
To be honest, though, there’s always the possibility of the new direction failing. Failure is just as real as success, but sometimes, failure is even beside the point. The idea is about doing what you absolutely believe you should do, and then, giving it your best shot. According to the doctor, she had to make sure she really wanted to study medicine. It means it was not a decision she made at the whim or due to mid-life crisis. We can’t be casual about this please. Don’t quit your job because you are bored or looking for a change. You have to be sure that you really, really want to make that change. The doctor said that shame almost hindered her from starting. She was ashamed that she would be the oldest in her class. But and so what? The result is that she’s now a doctor. She’s happy in her profession.
I have heard of bankers who switched to web coders, lawyers who quit to start food businesses. The examples are many. As the doctor said, search yourself and be sure you want to make that change. Research, prepare your mind to learn anew, and just go for it! Also be sure to plan. Change does not mean your financial needs will automatically slink away. You have to budget your way through the transition process, or at least have a system that can support you.
Regardless, if this is something you are thinking about, go for it. Life is short, you might as well reach for your dreams.