Hitting the reset button: Tell me your stories of starting over from scratch

I’m 37 though I feel more like 100 lately.

Part of me wants to go back to school, possibly law school. Part of me feels too old to consider a massive revamp of my life.

Tell me your tales of people (you or others) who started over. What worked? What didn’t? Was it the right choice?

Am I too damned old, or do I just feel that way?

Edited to add: I have a BA from Notre Dame, so I wouldn’t have to start exactly from scratch. I don’t know how eager any law school would be to have me, though.

I’m not out of law school yet. I’ll be 27 by the time I am - and that will be just the beginning of my first life. If 10 years after that is all I get before I’m too damned old to do anything, it better be a hell of a 10 years.

I’m thinking (hoping) the feeling too old part is just me, well, feeling old. :smiley:

You’re not too old, sweetie. I haven’t time now, but tomorrow I shall tell you my story of starting over, and you will feel better. In the meantime, I have a strange piece of advice. Since it is coming from me, I must first assure you that I am not making a joke: what I am about to suggest, I really want you to do.

You know the song from Sesame Street? The one about singing a song? “Sing…sing a song…sing out loud…” etc?

Go to Youtube. Find it. Play it and then sing along. You’ll feel better.

My gf is in a decent law school, and she says there are quite a few folks in there mid-thirties there, so it’s definitely do-able if you want it.

I think you are looking at it in the wrong way. You aren’t really starting over from scratch. You are basically just enhancing your existing life. So you take a few years off from work. If you go to a top law school, get good grades and work at at top firm, you can probably start your “new life” making $160 k a year.

Of course, I encourage you to make sure you really want to be an attorney. In my business, I encounter a shitload of non-practicing attorney’s who became consultants and or marketing reps for legal software companies and whatnot. I’m sometimes like, you didn’t need to spend 3 years and $100,000 to do that.

Basically, you are going to turn 40 no matter what you do. Do you want to be a 40 year old 1st year associate attorney or a 40 year old nth year whatever you do now?

I got divorced when I was 35. After taking some time to regroup and consider my options (and trying my parents patience :wink: ) I ended up back in school working on two masters degrees.

When we were 18 we chose our fields and progressed in our education based on what we imagined we thought we would be as adults. Now we are adults and we can make the choice with a clearer picture of ourselves. My advice would be not to rush into anything. Take your time and feel sure about your choice. You might find yourself surprised at all the options you have.

Money isn’t my goal. I can and have lived on less than 1/8 of that, though obviously paying back loans would be an issue.

There are three professions I’ve kicked around in my head over the past few years: lawyer, pharmacist, and librarian. All of them would require me going back to school, all of them appeal to me, and all of them play to some of my strengths.

My current job is easy and lazy and completely unchallenging. Now that I don’t have to come up with ways to pay for thousands of dollars of medical bills a year, I have the freedom to find something I want to do rather than just something that pays the bills.

One of my best friends in college was 38 when we graduated from undergrad. She went on to Pharmacy school.

Honestly, when I was 18 I went to university because that’s what people in my family do, and I got a degree in what I thought was interesting (English and History) but with no eye toward what I could do with it. It’s really only been in the last five years that I’ve had an inkling of what I’d like to do, and it’s still just an inkling as of yet.

I am pretty sure a licenced pharmacist can be assured of finding a good paying job virtually anywhere in the USA without much effort…

A lawyer or librarian, in the current economy, it might be a different story.

Whatever you decide, here’s wishing the best for you.


In late 1999, within just three weeks of each other, my dad died and my wife and I decided to get a divorce after 7 years of marriage (10 years as a couple). By April of 2000 I was living alone in a tiny crackerbox apartment in Austin, TX, doing production graphics in a printing company, and trying to figure out my next move. I was 35 years old and completely lost.

My portion of our shared assets came to about $5,000. I used $2,000. of it to pay off my truck and decided to just leave; sell everything that wasn’t important, say goodbye to the few friends I had left and head out into the world.

I had always wanted to be near the ocean. Summers spent in Corpus Christi, TX had always made me dream of a small place near the big water; a slow-moving, gentle town full of friendly smiles, laid-back folks, bare feet, cold beer, sea gulls and calm. Like a character in a Jimmy Buffett song, I wanted to lose myself in an ocean-side hideaway, to start fresh on the second half of my life. I wanted the salt air to sweep my past away.

Long story short: I ended up in Charleston, SC. Worked for a while in an art supply store before starting up my own graphics studio with some friends, new friends, as partners. I met a gorgeous blonde college professor, got re-married, and had a kid shortly before I hit the big 4-0. My new bride was originally from St. Simons Island, GA, which turned out to be the town of my Margaritaville fantasies (even though it’s rapidly becoming an overdeveloped summer community for rich folks from Atlanta).

Nowadays we live in Jacksonville, FL, just about 5 miles from the ocean. I work as a stay-at-home dad full time, and an artist/illustrator/graphic designer when I have any time left over. My work hangs in several galleries, my wife happily teaches at a local university, and my son is quickly becoming a golden beach boy.

My life prior to leaving Austin seems like a movie, a really shitty movie, I saw a long time ago rather than my own past. Without jumping into the deep end and hoping for the best, I don’t think I ever would’ve found my true place in life.

jsgoddess, my older sister got three different degrees - the first one was a bachelor’s in behavioral psychology. While she was at that university, she started doing theater and became interested in dance. So, she went on to CalArts and got a degree in modern dance.

She then went to NYC and taught dance for many, many years.

Just a couple of years ago she decided to go to law school.

She graduated the same year she turned 50. :wink:

I say go for it!!

To **Jettboy **

As I sit here in the frozen Canadian tundra, I’m not sure if I should laugh at your newfound situation or cry. I’m a recent layoff casualty from high-tech manufacturing with two kids and a mortgage. I don’t think I can hit the reset button at this point in life. I need to find work, and I need to find it fast before I lose everything. I can barely sleep or eat at this point. I’m in trouble and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have no idea how to make things better. My kids will be devastated if we lose the house and have to shack up in a rental place; not to mention my self-esteem.

I’m rambling…

I’m sorry to hear that, Leaffan. I spent the last decade in that position (where everything depended on me keeping my job and bringing home X amount of money or else catastrophe strikes), and it’s physically and emotionally draining.

This is a wonderful story!!! Great to know that new starts can end up working out so well; I am very happy that things are going so strong for you and your family…

Cheers from Utah, Matthew

Thanks, and if I’m not mistaken you recently went through something far worse. I will survive, and I hope you do too. Stay strong.

I’m going to be the lone voice of dissent. Not that I think change is bad or that you can’t do it, but a major life-changing decision directly on the heels of your husband’s death might be precipitious. Why don’t you wait just a bit under you’ve had a chance to get your feet back under you? Law school will still be there, but it might not seem so shiny.

I hope you find what you’re looking for, you absolutely deserve it.


No, I’m not making decisions. I’m asking questions. I’m thinking.

You could do worse than include a Life Coach or a Career Counselor in your questioning process. And if you got one like mine, she’d help you think about how much this is a reaction to your husband’s death, and how much isn’t. (Although I don’t know that she’d be a good fit for you in other ways).

Or, jump in with both feet. You don’t have to go to school full time if you don’t want to, but take a class or two and see if the subject matter still appeals. Volunteer in your community . . .