I met a woman a couple days ago who is getting ready to transition from our subsidized, transitional housing into stable housing. She told me about having to default on student loans from art school. Aside from my slight twinge of envy that I would have had the courage to go into art school myself a decade ago, which is not really the most logical reaction when someone is describing their crushing debt and journey out of homelessness, I was envious of her passion.
She loves art, so she got a job at an art museum as a security guard, so she can be around art all day, she volunteers as an art conservationist, and raids the museum’s lost and found for sketchbooks and other supplies. I am envious of that focus. She knows what she wants and has found ways, even in the most challenging situations, to stay true to that. Do I have that kind of focus? I have drifted back and forth between things I have wanted, what I thought was practical, what I thought was achievable given my own real and perceived limitations. I derailed my own passion and focus by over thinking things.
I come away with two things from that meeting.
First, never, ever, ever allow yourself to overlook the lessons that others have to teach us, no matter who they are. My job was to help this woman set a budget and nail down goals, but she taught me about goals. It would be easy to assume that I have all the answers when meeting with residents, after all, isn’t that why I am here? but a little humility and open mindedness can make a huge difference.
Second, its never too late. I am 28 years old, this girl was 33. Job searching recently made me feel old in a way that was harder and harder to ignore with each move and resultant job search. I feel like I should really have my life together by now, I am almost 30 for God sake. five, ten years ago, I figured I’d have a career, would be on the trajectory I’d follow for a life time. I don’t know whether this woman feels similar, but she is on a pretty great trajectory, one that homelessness hadn’t been able to derail. And its not to late. My husband started really making it in his field only a year ago. My mother got her first masters degree in her forties. I have time, my feeling that I am behind where I should be for the age I am at is more about my feeling like I wasted time not focusing on the long term, which I kind of did. But I still have time, plenty of it. Even when I find myself moving again once our hawaiian adventure ends, and that will probably feel like a setback, it still wont be too late, only another opportunity to reevaluate.