Years ago, my brother-in-law asked me what I was so afraid of. The answer was everything. I felt I was not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough. I believed I had missed out on the game plan for life which everyone else received. “I must have been up in a tree reading,” I joked.

One employer asked me about my five year plan. I was 29 years old and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be doing in five years. Was I supposed to? Is that how people thought? I was simply lurching through life from job to job as they appeared, using my instincts to point me in the right direction.

Granted, I went to college and got a degree. When I was graduating in 1970, women were just starting to leave behind the teacher or nurse choice that had for centuries been our due. When I was a freshman, we had to wear skirts to dinner as well as any time we went off campus. We could not smoke cigarettes in public. By my senior year, dresses were gone and most other restrictions had disappeared. It was the 1960s.

In my senior year, my guidance counselor sent me back to my dorm to change into a skirt because this was how I would need to dress for a job interview. (I knew this of course but no one had mentioned that the counseling session was “dress up”.) I returned in my blue jean skirt with an bad attitude. I told her I wanted to work in a bookstore. I had no idea what was available to a college graduate. She didn’t help with that nor did my attitude.

After I graduated, I went to work as an insurance secretary at the first place that offered me a job. I learned to type in 8th grade summer school. (Difficulty job hunting may be common for introverts but that is a whole other post!) I got more jobs from this skill in my early years than from my degree. Women = nurses, teachers and secretaries.

In my 70s, I see many jobs that I would love to have pursued. I am bookish, love research, love to write. I like science and computers. Jobs that jump out at me are forensic pathologist, archivist, night librarian at Woods Hole, lawyer, editor, dictionary compiler. I spent the last 20 years of my professional life working in records and information management. It’s like library science but on the document side. I got there by way of insurance secretary, day care center director, ski area group sales manager, junior-senior high school English teacher, waitress and temporary secretary. (Each job in its own way helped me with what followed.) I have lived an interesting life although not a strategic one. There’s little I would trade in my life for a different beginning.

I saw an ad for Digitization of Books Director for the Open Archive. I would love to do that! My partner, John, looked at me when I told him that and smiled. “You can barely walk across the room, Cindy. I think that ship has sailed!”

Time, gravity (and sometimes osteoarthritis) get us all!