View Full Version : I'm 30 and I finally figured it out!
07-01-2008, 11:22 PM
Well, I'm not 30 yet, but I will be in 2 weeks.
(As a quick aside, my older sister turned me onto this site and felt I would fit in, for my birthday she is purchasing my year subscription!)
When I finished high school I figured my life would go down the normal path. I was off to the local college (Marshall University in Huntington, WV) and my career would be waiting for me as soon as I received my diploma. I would likely meet the woman of my dreams and ... by 30! ... have a house, a family, and 2 dogs.
As it turned out, I hadn't the slightest clue what my life would be like. I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I switched majors as often as I switched underwear. I ended up quitting college after 2 years and nothing useful gained from it. I moved away, back home... rinse, repeat. I finally landed a job as a clerk with my dad's company (a kitchen product supplier) and figured I could make a career out of it, not realizing I was barely using the skills I actually possessed or understanding how to fulfill my real potential.
Then I got hurt. The injury caused me to miss a lot of work for recovery, and by the time I was ready to go back full time, they didn't really have my position open and just kind of stuck me in a back office not doing anything. I was demoralized and very depressed. I left that job and had no clue how I could possibly get things back in order.
I took a job as a bank teller and excelled at cross-selling and referring bank products. I was scouted by a manager of Smith Barney and I took their hiring assesment test. With no real understanding of how the stock market works or the concepts of investment banking, I scored very high. Very, very high. With my natural charisma and lifelong ties to the area, I could easily carve a niche for myself and establish a good client base. They practically fell over themselves offering me a position. Now I am going back to school to study accounting and finance, and I have found that not only does it seem to come naturally to me, I absolutely love it.
At 18 I would've never dreamed math, crunching numbers, and critical analysis of said math and numbers, would be my strongest asset. At 20 I wouldn't have... at 25 I still would've had the blinders on. I always knew I was good at math and I also knew that I had the ability to do math in my head on levels that most people won't attempt without a pen and paper, and the rest won't even consider without a calculator, but I never felt it was a true skill... I always just figured it was math! I particularly didn't think that without that college degree I could step into the position of a professional and be just as capable and productive as the guys 5 years younger than me that had figured it out way back when, even if they need the pens, papers, and calculators.
I remember as a kid I used to always wonder what I was truly "good" at. I had friends that rode dirt bikes and won big national events, and friends that rode horses in shows, and friends that could fix a car, and friends that went hunting and bagged big game, and friends that just always seemed like they had some area where they were the expert, even if I enjoyed doing those things as a hobby. I wondered if I had somethng like that too. It's a shame that I didn't hone in on it 10 years ago, but 30 is still young!
Any other similar stories of self-discovery in a less-than-traditional way?
07-01-2008, 11:48 PM
Sure. I'm 27 and just got my bachelor's degree (wow, I think that's the first time I wrote that. Shit - I have a BA!). I am getting ready to go to law school in fall of '09 hopefully. If I get into a three year program, I'll graduate when I'm 31. My husband is finishing his last year of a four year program and will graduate in spring '09. He'll be 37. He just scored an internship with the L.A. county DA's office, and I said in response that I'm surprised to see a light at the end of a tunnel that wasn't another freakin' train. (We've been at this for a long time.)
Has it been easy? No. I just watched the "minimum wage" portion of the TV show "30 Days" and I spent the whole 45 minutes nodding and thinking, "Welcome to my nightmare, dudes". I graduated from a public ivy by the skin of my teeth and couldn't have done it without 1. taxpayer help (thanx taxpayers!) and 2. housing subsidy by relatives.
To make a very long story as short as possible, I believe it's never too late to finish whatever you want to do. Any chance you could see yourself becoming a CPA or finishing a degree in mathematics? I finally honed in on law when I was 25 or 26 and couldn't get enough of my husband's text books. I guess I lucked out, there. I got a lot of practice analyzing Roman law in my undergrad (I majored in Classics and had a prof. that's big on Roman law. She threw quite a few bones my way.)
(I sometimes feel like I reel out my life story too often on the Dope, but OTOH it's good for other "non-trads" to know we're all out there). (And who's the sister!? I have a big "Doper" family so it's always fun to see who else is all related - hubbo is the long-lapsed The Highwayman and my Mom is Cheez_Whia.)
And welcome to the Dope, btw.
07-01-2008, 11:50 PM
Wow. Sorry for the parenthetical asides. I just polished off some two-buck Chuck though. That's my excuse.
07-02-2008, 12:11 AM
I'm not sure what her user name is on here, to be honest. She has been urging me to get on here for a while, and I just kind of did it on my own recently. She emailed and offered to buy my subscription, but that's as deep as we've gone on the issue.
I will definitely be pursuing degrees in finance and then likely on to my masters in accounting. I have a friend who is a CPA in Pittsburgh, and according to him you have to have your masters (at least in WV) in order to take the CPA exam, so it is still ways off.
I definitely feel like, and this is something I am sure you will be familiar with, that I have some real direction now. I always knew that I would be ok because I am smart, an effective communicator, and capable of learning how to do just about anything. But I didn't want to meander around taking different jobs always proclaiming that I was "beginning a new career path" when it was really just another eight-to-five that paid my bills and bought my beer. This is the first time that I understand the concept of challenging yourself, meeting the challenges, and focusing on the positive. I don't think I've had a harder life than the next guy, but I have been hard on myself when I've come up short. I'm moving away from that.
07-02-2008, 12:20 AM
Welcome to the Dope! I hope your stay will be enjoyable. You're doing pretty good for starters - your grammar and spelling seem okay. :)
I'm 41 and I don't really have this career thing figured out yet. If I keep going through them one after the next, I'll get to a good one by process of elimination, I'm hoping. I might need a longer life, though.
Full Metal Lotus
07-02-2008, 12:23 AM
This may be a little off topic, but back when I was in my 30's, my 4 yr old daughter made an observation that has stuck with me to this day.. "Grown ups are just like kids.. its just that they are used to it."
I have had several careers.. Artist, Print Technician (before digital graphics), Print Technician (after digital graphics), Retail, Paint chemist, museum curator, retail again (but this time I was good at it), and robotics technician.
My education was wildly varied, and although I "used" university I never got a degree in anything.
AMy daughter was right, I have come to realise. When you are 4 yrs old everything changes all the time, and its all new. When you get to be my age (ancient), everything changes all the time, but you get used to it.
I have interpolated her idea to mean.. "get used to change.. be flexible.. add tools to your toolbox when evber and how ever you can..
best of luck
07-02-2008, 12:33 AM
I like how you paranthesized the word used and analogize the toolbox. I have a very good friend that was always on me about college, and his mantra was that college is a tool and you get from it what you put into it. At the time I was pretty cynical, but the truth in that statement is ever evident now. I've always done things my way and my stubborness will last as long as I do, but there is no shame in using tools, and getting help when you need it.
And nothing a 4 year old says will ever be off topic. My 3-year-old niece spits gemstones as far as I'm concerned. I could talk to her til the end of time and she'd be able to make more sense out of things then I can.
Full Metal Lotus
07-02-2008, 01:28 AM
you don't sound all that stubborn to me if you can spot the gemstones from a youngster,
The Chinese concept Wu Li has (one) translation as "I grasp what I know".. it Can Also mean "I am affected by change" It can also mean many other things, all regarding how one deals with change, new things, and the nature of how change happens, dependant on context in the phrase it is used.. (Chinese is a very subtoe and oddly consise language)
Much of my tool box was "filled" after my yrs of unfulfilled degrees in university. I learned great lessons from waitresses (Always refill a coffee cup 2 minutes befopre dropping off a bill to maximise tips)
Ask more questions than you answer (Master docent at a university museum)
Never interupt a fool.. Always wait for a wise man to finish (Haida Medicine man)
Fuck-em if they can't take a joke - Bob Dobbs
Your friend always knows how to use a gas siphon hose better than you...
Always carry mints if you have a friend who will siphon gas
07-02-2008, 02:04 PM
FWIW, I didn't even feel like a grown-up until I was 30. Teenagers started calling me "sir" about that time too. :dubious:
07-02-2008, 04:05 PM
Heck, I'm 50 and I don't believe in the existence of grownups. (Responsible people, yeah, but people who are what we thought grownups were when we were kids? Nope, no such people.)
To answer the OP question, I got a masters' in social work and sociology and 2/3 of a PhD in sociology on top of that. Did four years of social work during the course of which, to deal with their dismal record-keeping and godawful paperwork and statistics recording, I developed a little database. Soc work agency folded and after about 9 months on unemployment not finding a new socwork job, I got hired to do databases in the same environment (FileMaker Pro) as I had done for the social work org.
Here I am 10 years later still doing FileMaker. Didn't train in it (heck, I didn't take a single IT course at all, ever!), in fact when I entered college I considered myself to hate computers. But it's as you said: it just comes to me, I can make it do anything, it's as easy as reading or typing sentences in English.
07-03-2008, 03:55 AM
My 30th birthday is quite memorable. Lots of friends in a bar in Berlin...grand old time, and - at the stroke of midnight, for whatever reason, I suddenly broke down and started crying like an idiot. I ducked out of the bar so nobody would notice. It just suddenly seemed so "old". Turning 30 was the most difficult birthday I ever had, and I have had a whole bunch since then with no problems - but that 30th ranks as the all time worst.
Now I would be quite happy to be celebrating my 30th...
07-03-2008, 07:27 AM
My 30th was meh. My 33rd however, was an angst-ridden, soul-searching, tale of tears and woe. So watch out.
Now I'm 47 and as happy as I never dreamed I could be. Just bought my first house and have been doing for 15 years a job that I always thought of as temporary but eventually realized that I love. I never planned this route, but it's the one I took.
I also had an injury (1987) that changed everything. Looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Caused me to switch gears and really appreciate being alive.
Now all I have to do is find a chick.
Welcome, you are among friends.
07-03-2008, 09:13 AM
I went white-water rafting for the first (and so far only) time on my 30th birthday. Very exciting.
Today, at 40, I feel on the verge of figuring something out, but I'm not sure what. Something to do with my career (disappointing so far), I think. If lightning strikes I'll be sure to let everyone know. :)
07-03-2008, 09:45 AM
I turned 30 at the start of this year - got married and bought a house in the previous 18 months, but still felt like I was blagging it.
It wasn't until my baby daughter was born this April that I suddenly felt that I'd "arrived" at adulthood... my focus has changed utterly, and adding "daddy" to the list of roles I play has had a proud impact on the way I'm approaching the future.
Is great though :)
07-03-2008, 10:27 AM
My 30th was meh. My 33rd however, was an angst-ridden, soul-searching, tale of tears and woe. So watch out.<snip>
For me it was 31. I dealt with 30 just fine, but come my 31st birthday, it was like I had the realization, "They're never going to stop coming! I'm just getting older and older and there's nothing I can do about it!"
40 was a bit of a pisser, too. On the plus side, I've never been in particularly great shape or had the perfect body, so the other 40 year olds are catching up to me, and I'm pretty much staying the same. :)
07-03-2008, 05:22 PM
Wow, what a great post Jiminator! I'm so excited to see what you do next with your life. (I'm his sister -- only an occassional poster, but I've been around since around 1999).
07-03-2008, 11:31 PM
Well, I'm pretty much jealous of anyone who is excited by what they are doing.
At 35 I haven't figured anything out. I thought I had it figured it out several times but turns out I didn't.
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