by Phyllis M. Babrove, MSW, LCSW
Turning 40 was a monumental time in my life. It began with needing bifocals and then a minor medical procedure that didn’t seem so minor at the time. When I took my daughter to register at the local community college and said to myself, “Gee, I think I’ll do this,” I entered the midlife crisis stage. It turned out to be the most challenging and rewarding experience that I could have chosen for my crisis. I finished the master’s program right after my 47th birthday and had a wonderful career. I retired last year after almost 20 years.
In the beginning, I felt self-conscious because my classmates were so much younger than I was. After all, I had children that age. But as I became more comfortable being with the students and the professors, I became less aware of the age difference. Soon, I realized that it had been my issue and not theirs. As time went on, I didn’t give it a second thought. I found myself anxious to participate in discussions, especially when I started the social work program. The fact that I was older was beneficial in that I could discuss issues based on my life experiences. I knew that I had a lot to offer and was proud that I was able to do so.
I submitted my story to The New Social Worker for Social Work Month. Some of the comments people made indicated that their experiences are the same as mine were when I started school. For the most part, they commented about starting school when they were older and feeling out of place with younger people in the classroom. As I wrote, age does not have to discourage us from being successful in fulfilling our dreams and achieving our goals.
A degree in social work is a marketable degree that can take us down many different paths. There are areas within social work that include geriatrics, private practice, administration, medical and health, substance abuse, child welfare, and school social work. Life experience in this field only makes us more qualified to help other people be successful in their lives.
If you are reading this because you are experiencing some of the things that I have mentioned, I wish you the best in reaching your goals. And if you are reading this because you are thinking about starting school but are hesitant, I would say to do some research about programs that are available to you that will fit your needs. Pursuing your degree can be the most rewarding experience at any age. Yes, it is a challenge, but one that is well worthwhile.
Phyllis M. Babrove, MSW, LCSW, recently completed her first novel and is hoping to have it published. She enjoys spending time with her family and likes to travel to New England with her husband of 45 years.