As women, we seem to reinvent ourselves fairly often. As mothers, well, most of us could rival a chameleon when it comes to changing our roles (daily!) from caregivers to partners to friends to professionals. The reality is that as our kids grow up, their needs change – and so do ours.
Many women I speak with often sound as if these changes are a bad thing, as if we are failing ourselves by not staying in the same personal and professional roles we created for ourselves decades ago.
Personally, I have had more roles than I care to admit. From government service, to writing blogs, to working at a law firm, to making hair bows for little girls, to helping not-for-profits grow and flourish, I’ve done a lot of “non-traditional” work. So when I opened up my own small business at 39 years old after practicing law for 14 years, the feedback I got was somewhat supportive, somewhat critical, and all quite surprising.
But what worked for me before wasn’t working for me anymore – and for me, the real failure would have been complacency.
As women and as mothers, we need to acknowledge the fact that we change and grow over time, and similarly, our needs and wants – personally and professionally – change over time too.
I don’t believe this is a sign of weakness or indecisiveness. To me, it is a sign of true strength because we are authentically embracing the fact that we need different things at different times in our lives. Changing jobs, careers, hobbies, and business ventures is not necessarily a sign of failure – the real failure is in remaining complacent for the fear of what others will think or because it’s hard stepping out of your comfort zone. But regret is a tough pill to swallow.
I belong to several groups on social media where women have shed their skin several times in pursuit of their passions. Some have started their own businesses, others have become coaches, authors or healers, and some have taken up hobbies like learning foreign languages or a new instrument.
Many of these women have an education or former career that has nothing to do with their current pursuits. Some of them raised children and are just now coming back into their own. Others recognized their life purpose was changing, and altered their professional lives to fulfill their passion and purpose.
And oh my gosh is it scary!! Moving on from something safe, something familiar, into the vast unknown is terrifying. But it is also liberating and empowering, even when we’re so vulnerable.
The moment we stop caring about what other people think and live our own truth, well, there’s a lot of power in that.
And why shouldn’t we have every experience this life has to offer?
I am, of course, not advocating irresponsibility or causing any harm to the people with whom you have chosen to walk this earth. But I do think we are too hard on ourselves, and we need to accept the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to have different jobs, careers, passions, friends, you name it, at different times in our lives.
I am grateful for the girl I was at 25, graduating from law school and starting her career. And for the young mother I was at 30, struggling through the day, with so many ups and downs of joy and frustration. But I don’t recognize her anymore. Yes, her experiences are a part of me, but the choices she made would not work for the woman I’ve become today.
And so I think the real failure for me – for any of us – would be not recognizing that, and not moving on when it’s the right thing personally and professionally. The moment I decided to drown out the noise around me and move on each time that I needed to, well, that led to feeling liberated, empowered, and satisfied with living a life with no regret. This, in turn, has made me a better mother, wife, and friend. And it has made me a happier.
And why not? We give so much to others – yet the more we pursue our own passions, the more time and energy we have to give to others. It’s a beautiful cycle.
So get out there and do what you love. Embrace the changes as you grow – there will be many! Action cures fear, so live the life you imagine. Trust me, you are worth it.