When I was in high school my dream was to move away to a big city where no one knew me. I could act the way I wanted and no one would expect anything from me. In this mythical Big City I could shave my head and wear Dr. Martens with ripped fishnet stockings and quote Proust or Bukowski. It was a dream I toyed with often when the weight of my teenage world weighed heavily on my shoulders.
When I graduated from high school my mom and I packed up her mini-van and drove 16 hours to Missoula, Montana where I would spend the next 5 years learning to become a better person. I didn’t know anyone when I got there and went about my own version of reinventing myself. My roommate thought I was weirdo because I had Ren and Stimpy poster next to a half naked poster of Perry Farrell back when he was cute. I did my best to reinforce her opinion of me.
After I college I spent a few months in Missoula before leaving for greener pastures. I moved to the Pacific NW and got a job in radio. Once again, I moved to a place where I was a stranger and knew no one. My family lived too far away for me to visit on weekends and I was pretty much on my own. It bothered me a little but I had a whole new city to explore and new restaurants to find and shiny things to distract me from being homesick.
Looking back I’ve noticed that throughout much of my life I’ve been on a pattern of reinvention. Sitting still too long makes me dusty and bored and I need new things to feed my soul. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to do what I REALLY want and make a living doing it. It’s been a challenge but I’m enjoying the ride so far. Our fabulous world economy has forced a lot of us to reinvent ourselves in ways we never imagined. I have a friend who once worked in the semi-conductor business. He lost his job and trained to be a dental hygienist and loved it. Fate and his parent’s poor health made him abandon those plans and now he runs their Bed and Breakfast. My husband came back from Afghanistan in 2007 and couldn’t find a job and now he’s back in school reinventing himself. It’s been a challenge for both of us but it’s also taught us how to be creative and adjust.
Reinvention is more popular than ever in the media. The Wall Street Journal has a whole section of their website devoted to reinventing yourself and MORE Magazine has a very helpful guide called Second Acts. My favorite podcast, Studio 360 has a series on people who either gave up their high-powered jobs or lost them and are now perusing careers in more creative fields.
It’s all about reinvention and the economy this week on A Closer Look Radio. On the Health and Lifestyle Edition Pam interviews reinvention expert Ann Fry. At 60 years old Ann packed up her stuff and moved to New York City. She had no job or money but somehow made it work simply because she wanted a change. On Thursday’s show, futurist Eric Garland will tell us about the health of the economy and whether we should be thinking big or going small. Both shows are at 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Reinvention is scary especially when we’re forced into it without a guidebook or map. In what ways have YOU reinvented yourself and how did you succeed? What were your setbacks and how did you get through them?