Is it possible to change your career at different stages of life? Of course it is. Think of the young woman that set off for university with no idea in mind of what she wanted to do. She might have been you not so long ago. Maybe she wanted to please her parents, or follow in someone’s footsteps – or just the opposite. Sometimes a woman who is passionate and highly skilled in one field can find another that suits her changing lifestyle better and the world she currently inhabits.
As a noun, a career can be defined as an occupation or profession, sometimes requiring special training or expertise, followed as one’s lifework. Even stay-at-home moms can claim that definition. And how many moms go back to work in their field of study or even approach something totally new once the kids are out the door.
I was fortunate to know what I wanted to do early on: music and performance. Like many of my generation, I had the young girl’s visions of nursing, teaching and eventually motherhood. Those eventually took a backseat to my devotion to and the satisfaction I found in music and on the stage.
Regardless of career aspirations, music or any similar discipline is an important tool in childhood development. Through music, I learned firsthand about responsibility, perseverance, accountability, time management and many other life skills. Teamwork was crucial. One bad note or glaring early entrance could make or break a performance for the entire group. Showing up unprepared certainly did not earn you the respect of your peers and directors even at a young age. And as the saying goes, the only way to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice. Many hours at the piano, a lot of lonely time in a stuffy practice room while others played or studied in the sunlight.
When used as a verb, career can be to run or move along rapidly at full speed. I like that one! That was and is perhaps still me: one small step away from flying off the planet!
When I embraced Islam in my late 30’s, I left what I expected to be my life’s work. Now what? Fortunately I was guided back into using those same musical and theatrical skills, creating songs and storytelling albums for Muslim children. My husband and I found our niche in an online Islamic, multimedia platform at just the right time and place. When we morphed into curriculum production and distribution for the growing number of private religious schools, my heart was in it but my skill set lacking. Both necessary requirements, I believe.
Today I find myself happy and fulfilled speaking about Islam: for interfaith, religious lessons, whenever and wherever anyone asks. Those skill sets of performance, preparation and responsibility still serve me well. The role of team player is still preferable to prima donna and yes, I’m still careering at top speed under the watchful eye of my inner critic and unending pursuit of perfection, presenting at as high of a level as I can attain. Not much changed there.
And writing! I discovered music was not just about the notes on the page but more importantly about language and message. Now I speak and write (thank you, Plaid!). With practice, perhaps no longer Carnegie Hall, but other venues are opening up every day.
What I came to understand is that although so much changed when I adopted Islam as a lifestyle, nevertheless I was the same old me in terms of character, drive and ambition but with the added gusto and some fairly insatiable curiosity to continue learning and exploring my faith but life itself.
Hindsight, my constant companion, is forever nudging me. Looking back at music – yes, a soaring melody line could make me weep and still does, but ultimately singing was delivering a message. Art songs, the highest expression of vocal music, combined the work of the great poets and bards with the sublime music of the classical masters. Always for me a perfect marriage.
So yes, you can change your career midstream. But upon reflection, don’t be surprised when you find those connections in what might appear as very diverse paths.