January 14, 2012

What Color Isn’t Your Parachute? ~ Maureen Chura


I have often wondered at what point it is too late to become what you want to be when you grow up. Is there an age limit, a deadline, a quota?

I am on iteration number five of my grownup self and I recently started seriously contemplating attending a natural cooking school. Mind you, I am not a cook. Plus, this qualification will be on top of my bachelor’s degree, my multiple attempts at graduate school (got bored, hated the subject, moved onto better things), a pilates certification, and my current endeavor at the Institute of Integrate Nutrition.

The optimist in me likes to think that I am simply fostering an intellectual curiosity, an insatiable appetite for knowledge. The pessimist in me fears that I will be taking the MCAT at 80.


 I used to wish that I was one of those people who had their vocation chosen by the age of nine.

How simple life must be for those people. Graduate from college, attend graduate school, get married, have 2.5 children. What a wonderful, linear path.

When I was nine I wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel. There was no clear path for that career aspiration. I have always been envious of the early career adopters. They have a title. They are obstetricians, architects, and actuaries. They have a one word answers to the “what do you do for a living” question at a cocktail party. It takes me 20 minutes to answer that question (leaving most sorry they asked).

Why is it some can choose a career and stick with it for 40 years, while others of us seem to get wanderlust just as the stock options start to vest?

Is it fear, lack of presence, some malfunction in our internal hardwiring? For years, I have thought of this lack of career commitment as a flaw. I sought guidance from both therapists and career counselors and read What Color is Your Parachute (twice).

Cornelia Kopp

Still, that itch to try something new always persisted.

I am slowly learning to embrace my vocational schizophrenia. Each new endeavor has given me a chance to uncover a part of myself that I never knew existed (who knew e-mail campaign analytics could be so interesting?) and has allowed me to redefine myself within each new group dynamic.

I am thankful for what each success and failure has taught me (I now know for certain that I should never waitress. Ever). I suppose some of us come to a career choice by decisive action, while for others it is process of elimination.

At the age of 40, I am finally able to accept that process as my own path to self-development. Though I may never truly arrive at what I want to be when I grow up, I feel blessed at the opportunity to continue down the path of discovery.


Maureen Chura is a full-time email marketer, part-time Pilates and TRX instructor, and haphazard meditator (though she promises to work on that). She owns eat.bend.breathe wellness studio in Philadelphia where she resides with her husband/editor Justin and her dog Tonka. She can be found on Facebook or reached by email at [email protected].

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