I’ve been on different ends of the spectrum of “being-out-of-place” age-wise. It all had its challenges. It also taught me that if someone else thinks you are too young or too old to do something, you have a prime chance to prove them wrong!
I started working when I was 13 years old. It was very uncommon for that time and place, most job required to be a minimum of 16 to apply. So I figured if I am my own boss, nobody can tell me how old I am supposed to be. I became self-employed, cosmetics sales consultant. And private tutor for English, French and Italian. After the first wonder at my young age, my customers were pleased with the quality they received. I was determined to prove my age did not matter in the value I delivered and I was super prepared every time. Doing it for the next 5 years, put me through my other language certifications and paid my move to a Swiss university. By the age of 20, I could write on my resume that I had 7 years of work self-employment experience, which was pretty impressive when my classmates barely logged a year or two of McDonald’s job.
I entered university when I was 15. When I came to apply, I was supposed to present my passport, but I did not even own one as they were issued at 16. They took me anyways. All my classmates were about 18+ by then. My original plan was to graduate at 20 and start working. Turns out, these were 3 years were the buffer I needed to enter the 3rd year of the Swiss University when I turned 18. Despite my plans, I did not graduate at 20, but 25 – with 2 Bachelors, 1 Master’s, 1 Doctorate degree and a bunch of additional studies without an outcome with a particular piece of paper. The head start definitely helped. I was not planning on minimizing the time between graduation and retirement by staying in the universities forever.
Someone who amazed me when I was studying in Switzerland, are two students living in the student residence two floors above me – a 68-year-old Dutch lady studying literature and a 72 year old gentleman from Belgium doing his Master’s in theology. That was a truly inspiring lifelong learning!
I came to Canada, and made a 180 degrees turn in my career – leaving academia behind I took my first flight, and later made it my full time occupation. One would argue starting flying at 25, and not right out of high school minimizes your chances of advancing in the airline industry. Being a single mom of a 4 year old does not help either. But not if you become a flight instructor one year later! I always wanted to instruct anyways, as I already had been teaching in other areas for a while, and the airlines would have been boring anyways. Instructing also allowed me to combine my late start and motherhood with what I would consider pretty good aviation career as the Flight School and Charter company owner and an Airshow performer. My son back seated a countless number of my night flights in my process of getting there.
Now comes the last challenge – so far. At the age where most figure skaters these days peak their performance at 14 and retire before 20, I started figure skating at the age of 34. Too late? Try the 78 year old Linda Maundrell who is polishing her program on the same ice sessions or the 83 year old Pat Noddin competing in adult figure skating at the Winter World Master’s games earlier this year. But I did not know that at that time. I was just determined that “if they can do it, I can do it”. Yes, it is coming with its challenges. I am learning slower than the kids would – I also have a bigger height to fall from in my axel. Making lemonade here too? Adults think! Sometimes too much maybe. But definitely enough that by the time you learn the moves you are pretty much ready to explain them in various way to someone else. Sounds like coaching? For sure! So here I am, 2.5 years into figure skating challenge and after a few competitions and shows, working on my coaching certification.
Why is this spontaneous sharing? I hope it gave you some thoughts, ideas and inspiration that age does not matter. Neither do race, nationality, gender or language. And if someone tells you otherwise – please do me a favour and prove them wrong!