In the Beginning …

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia NPWe have all been asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” starting at a young age. I am sure I had a variety of standard answers when I was very young. I remember wanting to be an astronaut (the first woman in space), the president (the first woman president, see a trend here?) and was encouraged to reach for the stars by my family, especially my uncle who kept me supplied with books depicting girls who could do anything. I secretly had a desire to be like him, and write books that would be in libraries everywhere (I wrote many “books” on index cards stapled together in my early grades) but that seemed too remote a possibility to be real. Likewise my thoughts of becoming a Broadway actress (unrevealed until just this moment) which was even less likely considering the clinical shyness I experienced as a child. Starting around age 7 or 8, I focused on becoming a veterinarian. I went so far as to write to every college and university with a veterinary program (all 22 of them) to ask what I needed to do to reach this goal. This goal stuck with me until I was an 18 year old college student and faced my first life crisis.

When I started college, I started to contemplate life afterwards (remember, I was a very serious child). I considered where I wanted to be, and realized that, though I had dedicated a lot of time and resources to my grand plan, it didn’t really work anymore. I realized that (despite spending years swearing I NEVER wanted to have kids) that a family was something I wanted and was more important in fact than any career I might have. Knowing that when I commit to something, I really commit (and sometimes should be committed), I decided to abandon my major (since I had no true interest in science beyond it being a means to an end). That precipitated my first life crisis. NOW what was I going to do? After much consideration, consultation with family and friends, and a conversation with my very patient faculty adviser, I decided on a path to try and eventually found one that worked for me.

After spending much more time on sending resumes and going on interviews than I had anticipated, I landed at a magazine publisher. I started literally in the mail room and worked my way up to assistant editor on a start-up computer trade journal. We were cutting edge, we wrote about the latest and greatest in the computer world. I loved my job, but loved the family more and left for the glamorous world of a stay-at-home Mom.

Now, I am approaching middle age (fifty is looming), my days mothering are numbered and I am facing the crisis again – What do I do NOW?

I have publishing experience. BUT … that was when the internet was in its infancy – only a select few in our company had access. The rest of us had dumb terminals and proprietary email systems that only worked in house and at our satellite offices out of state (we were cutting edge remember?) The world of technology has grown so much, so fast that I have become, GASP, a dinosaur!

I have kept up with the times (sort of). I now write on the computer (my co-workers laughed at me then, since I hand wrote, then typed most of my articles), use Facebook regularly, and can navigate most websites easily.

I recently found a job that sounded perfect – writing and editing from a home office. Then I looked closer – they also wanted someone proficient in SEO, Google Analytics, and HTML. So, I dutifully looked these up (I knew about HTML, just haven’t done anything with it myself) and it appears that these are things I could learn easily and quickly enough. But how to convince them that I can do this? I felt as helpless as the months after graduating college – how do you get the experience to get the job if no one will give you the job without the experience?

Finally, one problem that I have an answer for. Something age and experience has taught me! Volunteering has its benefits. I can teach myself how to do all of this (the magical web makes these things easy to learn). I know that you need to use these skills regularly in order to not lose them. I am very active with Girl Scouts locally and have been thinking that we could use a website …

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