Do You Get Too Old to Follow Your Dream?

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By Irene Conlan —

Perhaps the best self improvement tool is to follow your dream regardless of your age.

When I was 11 years old I became quite ill and had to spend some time in a hospital located quite some distance from the town where we lived. One of the nursing students was from my town and she became my hero. She loved what she was doing and we became friends even though I was just a kid.  I decided right then that I wanted to be a nurse and I held that vision throughout my teens.

In my junior year of high school we took a battery of tests, including an “aptitude” test. The results of that test were quite clear. I should stay away from any scientific field. What I would be really great at doing was teaching and what I should teach was languages. That was interesting but what I wanted to do was go to the nursing school in the hospital where I met nursing.

I applied and was accepted. I did well with the exception of chemistry – I made a decent grade but never understood it. I loved being with the patients, detested surgery, loved pediatrics was scared to death of the doctors and somehow graduated at the top of my class. I made high scores on the nursing Boards and was finally an R.N.

Nursing was in the throws of great change. Education was gradually being removed from the 3 year hospital programs and put into the hands of the college system. I eventually went back to school and worked toward a bachelor and masters degree in Nursing Education Administration. I loved nursing but really wanted to teach. (Hmm. That’s interesting. Isn’t that what the aptitude test showed I was best suited for?)  And in the undergraduate program I fell in love with language to the point that I was asked to abandon nursing and teach English. Another hmmmm.

After graduation I got a job teaching nursing at a university and I was ecstatic. I loved it. I loved going to work every day. I loved being with the students. I loved taking them into the clinical settings and teaching them how work with patients. And I was a bear when I graded papers, expecting them to be grammatically correct, and I still believe that should be expected of any college student whether in nursing or any other program.

Within two years I was offered a position as Administrator of Nursing at the hospital where I had been working with students. They offered to double my salary – an offer, as the Godfather says, I could not refuse.  I discovered that I was a good administrator with a talent for  finding great people for key positions, and we developed a great nursing department. I, however, missed teaching.

Quitting that position after I married a local politician who was planning to run for a national office, I became involved in the life of wife, campaigner, then mother, and then public speaker. Ahhh. The public speaking was fun – very much like teaching. I did some writing as well and found I enjoyed it.

Back in the workforce after my children were grown I went back into administration and then on to starting and managing my own company.  Again,  as a manager, I was the happiest when I was teaching my employees something new.  I also did a lot of writing.

Do you see a pattern here?

Eventually  I began teaching metaphysics and spirituality and – you guessed it – I loved it.

I guess this blog is for me a means of teaching. And, while I am passionate about it, it still doesn’t hold the excitement of seeing the interest and reaction of live students sitting in front of me. There is little that brings more joy to me than a student who wants to learn, who asks and answers questions, and makes the learning a part of his or her life experience.

So just what is the point of this autobiographical blog today? To reiterate what many others have said: Find your passion and figure out a way to make a living doing it.

I have had a good life. – no doubt about it. And with Robert Frost I wonder what it would have been had I taken the other road. Actually, it’s not too late – I might become the “Grandma Moses” of teaching.

Can’t you hear it now? “This class will be taught by Gramma Irene” so fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!

Gotta go. I need to find what teaching jobs are available to old ladies who are grammatically correct. Sometimes.

Irene Conlan

Irene Conlan has a master's degree in nursing, She taught nursing at Arizona State University, served as Director of Nursing Administration at St. Luke's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and served as Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services for the Division of Health Care Facilities and Emergency Medical Services. Now retired, she is an avid blogger and manages, and hosts the Self Improvement Radio Show on VoiceAmerica. Irene lives in Fountain Hills, AZ and has two sons and four grandsons. 

One thought on “Do You Get Too Old to Follow Your Dream?

  • November 26, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Thank you so much for this posting. I wish you could see the tears roll down my face as I was reading it. I just had a conversation with my husband about this. I want to go back to nursing school, he said I should stay with internet marketing, I tried to explain to him that nursing was always my passion. Then I read your blog and it all made sense to me. Thank you so much : )

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