Making a Difference at Any Age

Chela - Santa Barbara, California
Entered on September 15, 2008

Making A Difference at Any Age

I believe that at any age you can make a profound difference in the world. I used to think that one had to be young to make a difference. Now, at the age of fifty-seven, I think of young as being defined as thirty to forty years of age. This is a time when most people have done their training in life and have finally settled in to whoever they are suppose to be. Although I did not graduate from college and went through life with only an A.A. under my belt and on my resume, I knew that I was capable, smart, hardworking, and a fast learner with ambition. I have found that this ambition used to be driven from a fear that no one else would take care of me, so I had to do it alone. This was a belief that I held close to my heart, side by side with the concept that I had to be “Young” to make a difference.

I did make a difference as a single, young working mother of two bright and beautiful daughters. After successfully raising my daughters and instilling in them a need for a college education, I was finally alone with an empty house and with no purpose. I had hit fifty years old and felt that the only thing left for me to do was die. That is what almost happened when I was struck on the freeway by a hit-and-run semi truck on the way to work As I smashed up against the concrete middle divider, not once but twice, I felt a snap in my back. Having experienced a broken arm a few years back, I knew that the snap and the excruciating pain that followed after it meant one thing; I now had a broken back. I remember thinking “Is this it? Will I be hit again and die?” How was a woman, like myself, caught up in the identity of being a “hard” worker ever going to make a difference now? This was especially true because my career, at the time, required a well functioning strong body to run up and down three flights of steps and take care of clients.

After a year of physical therapy, I was able to walk, but I was never going to be able to return to my past career. So, I returned to school and now, at the age of 57, I just graduated with my B.A. in Psychology exactly forty years after my high school graduation. Over the course of this past year, I have found that my daughters, friends, educators and classmates have helped me and I no longer had to do life alone. Next month, I start my graduate program in Clinical Psychology to be a therapist to people who have physical challenges, chronic pain issues, aging or life changes. My purpose is to let these people know that I believe that they too are still valuable human beings who can make a difference in other people’s lives and in the world around them.