So it seems that I find myself in what I like to call my second act. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision on my part but more as if I woke up one morning and realized hey, it’s time to find my next frontier (right after I find my reading glasses).
I’ve spent my entire, 40-year professional career in the business of writing for advertising and marketing, from the agency side to the client side, from working for others to working for myself. It’s been a rewarding, awarding ride.
The past year-and-a-half, though, has been defining (as in the proverbial wrench thrown into the works) career-wise, as so much of my freelance client work moved and stayed inhouse, changing my landscape. And with the art of print copywriting now more the biz of content blasts, it seems that I’ve reached a crossroads. My previous working life sort of behind me, it’s time to choose my next steps.
In one direction, the dreaded “r” word – retirement. I can’t look at that word without flinching, to be honest (too many parent-generation stereotypes of early-bird specials and leisure suits), even though I realize that so many of my friends have retired from incredibly successful careers into a new chapter. Different, yes, but full and active and meaningful. But the word – uh, no.
In another direction, the a-little-too-pie-in-the-sky-for-me “r” word – reinvention. The pressure of that word is way too much – and besides, I don’t want to change to the point of reinventing my wheel (although it would be nice if the wheel ran a little more smoothly, I’ll admit). So that leaves me, a person who thrives on words, with the task of coming up with a new one to suit this stage of my life (and, as someone who thrives on wordplay, I feel obligated to come up with one that starts with the letter “r”).
And so, the word reimagination. To my mind, it seems like the perfect next step down the creative path – not a retreat, not a reset, not even a restoration. But a realization that doing what I love to do continues now in newly imagined ways. Yes, I’ve moved from writing primarily for business to writing almost exclusively for joy. A first novel (something I never imagined being able to do until I did it last year), an ongoing blog (something I take more pleasure in the more of life I experience), creative non-fiction for magazines (no hard pitches, more like “here’s my heart if you’d like to publish it”) – it’s a different perspective and a different outlook and a different lifestyle. Mostly positive yes, but there’s a challenge involved too.
For me, it’s really difficult to turn off the “gotta work” setting, to give myself permission to evolve completely into reimagination without feeling guilty about it.
No matter how often B. may tell me that I’ve earned this chance to write for the sake of writing, old habits and mindsets are hard to break. And, of course, the idea of accepting the opportunity means that I’ve stepped off the professional merry-go-round I’ve been on for most of my life. The change in motion can be a little dizzying. A little anxiety-provoking. And a little scary.
But here’s the thing. You’ve got to get out of your own way in order to move forward. You’ve got to tell yourself it’s okay to make the change or else you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels in “I don’t deserve this.” And you’ve got to be a little bit brave about leaping into life’s new stage.
©2021 Claudia Grossman