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It’s a Wonderful Second Life

By Bill Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #85, 2008.

Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself for a new career

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Bill Pride

All you video game players, relax. This article is not about the popular online game Second Life. In fact, all I know about that game was gleaned from watching one TV episode of CSI on iTunes!

I want to tell you about my second life—how I’m applying lessons learned in our homeschool to my own career.

You’re Never Too Old to Learn New Things

How many times have you found yourself “teaching” the kids stuff that was brand new to you as well? I’m sure you were able to learn right along with your kids, whether the new skill was piano or physics.

In spite of what some of us were told in our youth, our brains do not turn into slabs of concrete when we hit 30. If anything, it’s easier to learn new things as time goes on . . . provided you haven’t ever stopped learning.

Homeschooling keeps our brains fresh and active. It also breeds increased confidence that we can learn anything we want. Finally, since we homeschoolers are already on a different path from most people, it’s easier to consider branching out into previously unexplored life paths.

It’s Not Just a Job If It’s an Adventure

In my case, my first career was chosen with hardly any thought. I liked math, I was accepted to MIT, so lo and behold, I became a math major. As the first member of my family to graduate from college, grad school and professional school (law, medicine, etc.) never came up as options in family conversation. Since my mom had gone back to work to pay for my tuition, and two younger siblings also needed college tuition, the message I heard loud and clear was, “Get a job!” I had discovered I enjoyed computer programming and this was (at the time) a highly employable and respected area. So I took my first post-college job at Raytheon as a systems programmer.

Many years and two seminary degrees later (but that’s another story), my wife, Mary, and I transformed our passion for homeschooling into a home business that has supported us all these years.

A few years ago I realized that my kids would not be living with us forever. This meant that my contribution on the home front would be less needed as time went by. Thinking outside the box, as homeschoolers so often do, I decided it might be fun to go back to college and get a graduate degree.

Since mothers have taken to warning their kids against going into my former profession of computer programming, because millions of jobs in that field have been outsourced to other countries or transferred to H–1B visa holders in this country, I enrolled in a math graduate program. After a year or so of this, I finally realized I didn’t need to limit myself to the few careers I had considered 30 years ago. When pondering what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life, a medical career rose to the top of the list. Now I am working on my math Ph.D., finishing my pre-med program on the side, and hoping to become the oldest medical student in the country in a couple years.

Two Can Live Way More Cheaply Than Eleven

It may be impossible to consider a career change, or a “retirement” of unpaid community or church service (another great option) while two, four, six, or more children are depending on your paycheck.

However, once they grow up and graduate, even the most responsible dad can consider options that don’t result in immediate financial gain.

So let me ask you . . . What do you really want to do with the rest of your life? Don’t assume anything is impossible because the training will take too long, or you’re too old. Start “pecking away” bit by bit at your future dream, and someday you may be living it.

Bill Pride is the father of nine totally homeschooled children. The last three are poised to graduate from homeschool this spring.

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