Am I too old for a career change?

Aeons ago, when I was still at high school, a teacher made me take an aptitude test. In those days those tests were a thing and, together with good marks could get you into a good university.  I was in standard 9 ( grade 11) when I tested off the charts in Language ability and average for Mathematical skills.

The teacher ( I’ll never forget you ms. Daniels!) suggested I do a journalism course and helped me fill out an application for Rhodes university in Grahamstown for inclusion in their Bachelor in Journalism program.

Harold Cressy High School – my alma mater

To our shock and delight, I was accepted.

Now to tell the parents. I’d won a full bursary for tuition, but they would need to pay for my accommodation at the boarding house.

I didn’t think it would be a problem, so showed my parents my acceptance letter. To my shock they refused to pay! Also, “Journalism isn’t for ladies and it doesn’t pay well”. Verbatim.

For two months I moped about. I tried begging, pleading, threatening, cajoling. Nothing worked. I would be a teacher or a nurse – the best professions for any woman.  They’d decided.

Matric came and went and I passed with no great distinction or fanfare. I was inconsolable and bored for about two months post Matric.

My mother had heard the neighbour’s daughter had enrolled at a teachers training college and forced me to get up one cold morning in February 1991, to enroll in the teacher training course.

An old snap of Wesley College in Salt River

To my surprise, I didn’t hate it. I made friends from “up country” and had an active social life. Boyfriends were still  verboten under my dad’s strict rules but I had flings. Oh, did I fling!

Long story short? I didn’t absolutely suck at the teaching thing and could make a good living from it. My parents swelled with pride and gloating.

But something was missing. I had a rich fantasy world that lived in my head. I wrote in my diaries, kept journals and each time they were discovered by my mom it caused endless strife because, “What outlandish things are you writing? Read the Bible, go to church, become a Sunday school teacher! That will make your head right!”

The diaries and journals were confiscated, never to be seen again. I dutifully became a Sunday School teacher ( those poor bastards!) started my first teaching position and then contracted Guillain Barre Syndrome in my first month of teaching at Grassy Park EC school.

*May is Guillain Barre Syndrome Awareness month. Check here for more information.

The blue ribbon for GBS month

It took 2 years to beat the GBS monster into submission. After relearning to walk, talk and control my body, I went back to teaching. Problem was, I wasn’t the same person I had been 2 years ago.

I hated it. I self sabotaged from one position to another. Eventually I met and married Mr. and moved to the UAE. The desert air set me straight.

The otherness of the people, the climate and the culture entranced me. Still does, TBH.

But that need to write never left. I’ve several incomplete books, waiting to be sent to publishers. I’ve started several writing projects, writing for various publications and yet…it’s not enough.

I even started an online magazine from over here, but that bombed because I couldn’t get out of a work contract I was locked into with a high up royal. I couldn’t commit to Swirl magazine, made mistakes and alienated people.  A few haters were gained then too. 💁🏽

Thank gawd for blogging! I’m getting all the wordiness out of my head and actually manage to sleep at night.

So what? Now what? 

Weelll, believe it or not I’m doing online courses in Responsible Journalism through MOOC* at MIT in the US! So excited. I’m about halfway through, and loving it!

*Massive Open Online Courses are hosted by top international universities, free of charge but you can pay a nominal fee for a diploma or certification. 

I also have some contacts in the newspaper industry in the UAE and when I’ve gathered my courage, I may approach them for an internship. That’s if they want an old woman as an intern!

Until then I’m practicing on you guys. Thank you for sticking around.

Do you think it’s ever too old to change careers? Let me know in the comments section. 

Until next I blog, 



10 thoughts on “Am I too old for a career change?

  1. From what age are you considered “old”? My dad was in his late 40s when he started studying teaching full time. This was a year after I finished studying for my diploma in journalism. So my take is: you’re never old 🙂 I love the old image you shared in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember those tests! I’ve always wanted to do journalism too. No idea why I didn’t pursue it. I guess we shouldn’t have let people dictate to us – parents included. I say go for it, what is age anyway but a stupid number.

    Liked by 1 person

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