Have you ever made a significant career change in your 30s or 40s? I mean, a motherflipping DRASTIC change that is risky and requires going back to Uni and then doing shitkicking clinical work (indisputably involving vomit and bodily fluids) and then maybe, just maybe you’ll get to do the thing you’re pretty sure you will love?
Well, that’s where my head is at right now.
Lately, I’ve been caught up in a spiral of feeling compelled to help others and balancing that with the need to pay bills whilst using the skills I already have. Feeling like I missed my calling 10 years ago, feeling like a privileged white woman who wants to make a freaking difference but not knowing exactly how to do that. But then feeling like a selfish arsehole because I am a mother and my kids need me to be around, not disappearing in a defibrillator and a text book.
The most obvious choice to me is paramedicine—it’s probably the discipline that most suits my personality, but essentially it’s about contributing to the community, to people, to making people’s lives better. It’s that simple. And yet getting there is going to take an incredible amount of effort and hard work. I don’t mind hard work, but it’s a huge mental leap to commit to something I’m pretty sure I’ll love, but won’t know for sure until I actually do it. It’s a risk, but then, nothing worth doing is without risks. The thought of doing paramedicine (or its cousin, nursing) excites me, it puts a smile on my face. My instinct tells me that this is absolutely the right decision for me. But there are sacrifices. Family, finances, the future.
I regret not doing this ten years ago before I had kids, but I’m not sure that I would have been ready ten years ago. Irony. Not lost.
Having worked in human resources for the better part of eight years, I have a few people skills. Anyone who has talked to me for a millisecond knows I love people and making them laugh, but what I really want to do is help them in a practical/health sense, not help corporates make more money than they really need. The thought of going back into a corporate HR job to “make money for the man” depresses the shit out of me. It chips away at my soul whenever I think about it. HR doesn’t challenge me and it doesn’t fulfil me. I am a woman without bullshit. I tell it like it is. HR needs more people like me, but paradoxically HR is also not particularly tolerant of people like me. I do love the editorial/social media path I’ve gone down since HR, but it’s unreliable, work can be thin on the ground and I still don’t feel that it is “making a difference”. I am compassionate, I am fit, I love medical science. I like being active. I love helping people. This is right for me.
But then that infernal devil’s advocate says, “You are kidding yourself that you can be a paramedic. Just do what you’ve always done for a job, you can volunteer with the SES, Ambulance or MFB.” But I can’t do that. I can’t go back to sitting behind a desk all day, in a job that is well-paid but empty. I’m painfully aware that ambos are overworked, underpaid, have little life balance and the bureaucracy in the department is beyond a joke. But then I talk to paramedics who feel blessed that they have the opportunity to do their job in spite of all that. Loving what you do. Doesn’t everyone want that?
My problem? I’ve never been a person who does things by halves. When I feel dissatisfied, I make changes.
And then there is writing and my book. My brain is waging a three-way war. Sparring between the creativity of writing, something I’m dearly passionate about (as you all know), the status quo of what I’m doing at the moment, and the noisiest part of my brain which is helping save lives in a practical sense—paradoxically anti-creative in a way. Protocol-driven. Science based. I love both science and writing (and have been able to indulge my love of medical science in my book anyway). I don’t know which one I want more.
I know writing makes me special. It makes me less than ordinary and that is important to me. But fuck man, paramedics save lives, that is paranormally special. Writing is my power but I don’t know if it’s enough.
I can touch lives with my writing, but I can’t save them.