Last year, I switched back and forth between the terms ‘career break’ and ‘career change’ as though they were synonyms.  I did so for one simple reason: I wasn’t sure what I was doing.  And while I’m pretty confident that I’ll never actually know what I’m doing–at least in the broad sense–I can now confidently say that I will be making a career change.  And I can tell you that the career break I took helped make this career change possible.  Just not in the way I expected.

My original plan was to take a year off and actively pursue other career paths while also pursuing ‘that which I loved’–travel and writing.  So that’s what I did.  I wrote.  I traveled.  I applied for jobs.  I made a bit of money doing freelance work.  I built up my travel blog.  I heard back from exactly two of the jobs for which I applied–both in form-letter no-thank-you format.  And then I went back to my original position, discouraged.

But life didn’t stop just because I went back into the classroom.  And so it came to pass that I was offered an opportunity to try for what I’d describe as darn-near my dream job–traveling to schools all over the country (representing a large, rather well-known educational media company) facilitating professional development for teachers.

Had I been given this opportunity last year, it would have been easy to take it without thinking.  This year, with a more-than-full work schedule, the decision was not as easy.  It required leaving for a week-long training (with very little notice).  It required a rather bold meeting with my boss–to ask him how to arrange a week off of work to interview for another job (and then a subsequent meeting to tell him that I got the job and that I’m taking it). It required figuring out how to most-responsibly transition between the two jobs–and figuring out how this new position fits in with my other professional projects (I’m still working on that last part).

Basically, acquiring and accepting this job took a lot of courage.  Courage I would not have had pre-career-break.

While yes, I have held my fist skyward and shaking, muttering ‘why couldn’t this have come along last year‘, I’m glad I wasn’t able to take this job ‘without thinking’.  And believe me, I thought about it a lot.  I thought about it before attending the week-long training which was also a week-long interview.  I thought about it during the week-long training-slash-interview.  I thought about it on the plane home and I thought about it during the days that followed–before I knew if I’d been hired.  I even thought about it in the days after I was congratulated on getting the position.  And I’m confident.  After a year of figuring out who I am and what I want–this is who I am, and this is what I want.

I can’t wait to get started.

I will be writing more about this new job–and the new lifestyle it will necessitate–in posts-to-come.  Which means I have yet another thing to announce–Existential Midlife Twitch is back!   Stay tuned!