So, here I am starting something new. I’m almost 48 and feel a little too old to be starting over with something I know nothing about. I have decided to start a travel podcast. It’s called Tourist in Your Town. Head over to the website and check it out.
I know nothing about audio recording or editing. But I guess I’ll learn. I thought this might be a good thing for me to try. I love to travel and I love to talk about it. So, it seems a logical step for me.
I have 2 episodes out now and am having a great time with it! Give it a listen!
After school, I got a job that offered
the opportunity to learn Photoshop. This was back in the early days
of digital life. I started on Photoshop 2.0. There were no layers and
you only go 1 undo. So, we would just save several different versions
of the file, in case we screwed up or changed our minds. I did that
job for several years. Then moved on to a job that allowed me to
learn other programs, like Quark Express. Remember that? I was a pro
at it. But I had an early midlife crisis (early 30s) and decided
that I needed to work with animals. So, I quit my steady job and
entered the world of animal rescue.
Animal rescue is a rabbit hole that
sucks you in. It’s a depressing world where you just want to scream
and cry all the time. But there are those rewarding moments when you
find that perfect home for a cat or dog or rabbit. If you are really
lucky, that home isn’t your own. Yes, we have saved many. Some of
them even went to live with someone else. But it didn’t take long for
me to realize I needed a real job, making real money. Also, I got
fired and had to move on (a story for another day).
I got an easy job where I just used
Photoshop again. I was making great money doing it, too. Sure, I
worked nights and weekends and holidays. But I was fine there. I had
few issues with it. I had zero ambition and was fine being a
Photoshop grunt for the rest of my days. Then, the shit hit the fan
as they say. It was the newspaper business. If you’ve been paying
attention, this world crumbled into a chasm of layoffs and mass
exodus when the recession hit. Newspapers were still making money and
profits. But they panicked and began lay people off in droves. I was
not one of those people. Instead, I was left behind. My workplace was
now bitter and everyone was terrified of showing up to work and the
doors would be locked. Nobody was happy. I could not stand it
anymore, so I decided I needed to move on. Maybe this was where I
This is when I got my “dream” job.
There has never been a job more suited to a person than this job was
for me. It was for a company that made pet products. My job would be
to retouch the photos for packaging, advertising, etc. And do some
product photography while coordinating lifestyle photo shoots. Of
course, I had never coordinated anything in my life and had zero
experience with product photography. But my Photoshop skills got me
the job. After six months on the job, my ambition woke up and I
wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to be the one taking the photos
of the animals with the products. So, I started learning and doing.
Life was good. Zoom forward to more recent times (2 years ago) and
find me not so happy any more. Budget cuts made things difficult
because we couldn’t get equipment or locations like we had
previously. Also, even though I was now doing all the shooting, I was
also doing the coordinating. I needed help. Cut to almost a year ago,
I got fired. I was told my position was being cut. They no longer
needed me. The real kicker? Two weeks later, they posted my job on
the job sites.
So what now? A dream I didn’t know I
had has been destroyed. I was left hanging. I thought I would start
my own business doing freelance commercial work. I thought I was
ready. But, turns out, I don’t trust myself. I took the first job
that came along. It’s a fine job. I now do product photography for a
local restaurant supply company. I’m a grunt. Benefits aren’t great
and I’m bored out of my mind already.
Thus the point of this whole thing.
Where do I go from here? Do I rebury my ambition for more? Just
squash down and accept my fate? Yes, I’ve tried looking for other
jobs. But there aren’t very many photo careers available in my area.
I could move, but my family is not ready for that at this time. And I
really do like where I live. There it is in a nutshell. Stuck. In a
hole of my own making.
I’m a 40+, closer to the just under 50 group actually and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I see young people, in their 20s and 30s, who know exactly what they want to do with their lives. They have a plan and they are following it. It can be depressing and frustrating for me to see people so put together when I feel like so lost and unsure. I know there are jokes about midlife crises for men and women. And there is teen angst. But right now, this feels like midlife angst.
When I first started my “dream job”,
over 6 years ago, there was a young co-worker who got a job offer
from a different company. I could not understand why she would want
to leave such a great place. She seemed happy and on a great career
path there. But she explained that she had a specific plan. She had
always planned to leave and go to this next level, it was just
happening earlier than she expected. I understood it. But I didn’t
“get” it. Because I never had a plan.
Well, that’s not true. In college, I
had a plan. I would go to graduate school, get my masters and then
become a tenured professor at a small private college. Lots of people
are laughing at me right now. Go easy on me, at the time, it was not
as pipe dreamy as it is now. Also, it was in Fine Arts, so no need
for a PhD. However, I did not get into grad school. This left me
dangling in the wind and maybe a little scared. But I was young and
thought I’d just get a decent job and try for grad school the next
year. That did not happen.
I never tried again for grad school. Once I started working full-time, I got used to having things, like regular food and clothes and a bank account. Going back to school was not in the cards for me. Do I regret that now? Sometimes, but I am definitely NOT going back to school at this point in my life. So, it doesn’t matter, does it?
They say to keep blogs short and sweet, so I will make this midlife angst business a series for you to read over time. The images in this installment were all taken either in college or just after (over 25 years ago).
To be continued…
Fine Art Photography by Sharon Popek
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