Surviving the Mid-Life House of Mirrors

Have you ever visited a carnival house of mirrors? As you wind through the maze of mirrored passageways, you’re met with your reflection. Sometimes, it is true to life and other times it is a distorted image of reality.

This distortion can cause a confusing, disorienting situation. It can be difficult to distinguish truth from illusion. In late 2016, I entered the distorting house of mirrors of a mid-life career crisis.

It was confusing. I barely recognized my own reflection at times. I had envisioned myself being a healthcare leader in an executive position for years. I completed my Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration in December, 2016. By February of 2017, I wanted out of leadership.

As I traveled through the confusing career maze, I saw my reflection in many ways. I saw myself as a good leader most days, but when the distortion came, all I saw was failure I always felt that I was good at conflict resolution, but the maze reflected an image of a weak communicator.

Some days, the reflections were brutal. It was as though I could hear the mirrors yelling, “you’re too old to start again” or “this is what you wanted, do you even know who you are?” I kept trying to hang in there, telling myself to take it one day at a time.

As I continued through this house of mirrors, I made one realization that was always a perfect reflection of reality: I wanted out of my leadership role.

Sounds simple, right? Just quit!

Even though I knew what I wanted, there were many emotional and difficult steps to take . All while receiving these distorted images of who I was. You see, my identity was wrapped up in being a member of the leadership team. My closest work friends were leaders. My degree was in leadership. My email was flooded with cutting edge leadership newsletters daily.

Everything I had done for 10 years seemed to be for naught.

In this deep, dark distorted vision of who I was, I turned to the one thing that has always been a constant in my life – my writing.

But, wasn’t it too late? How could I start a new career at the ripe old age of 40? Once again, the house of mirrors told me lies:

Too old.

       Too late.

            Not good enough.

                  Only a dream.

The distorted images of who I was and how I had missed all opportunities were many.

Late one night, I escaped the house of mirrors and found a small stretch of reality on the midway and landed on the website of Janine Kelbach, WriteRN.

Janine, is a nurse, a writer and a coach. But, could she help?

I could have remained in the house of mirrors. Accepting the distorted images of who I was. Let’s be honest, I was getting comfortable with these new images of myself.

The lies were becoming my truths.  

What Janine told me was believable. She had hard facts of her own success. She shared her wisdom and her business with me. The reflections she projected were true and pure. She heard my passion for a new career path in writing. Quickly, she began helping me to create a new vision of myself as a writer. One who had leadership, case management and real-life experiences. One who could be successful.  

Today, I am writing any chance I get. In January, I am decreasing my hours at the “day job” to 32 hours per week. I am getting clients. I am making money.

I see a new reflection of who I am and I love it!

What should you do if you find yourself in a mid-life house of mirrors?

  1. Keep yourself grounded – Know who you are! Do something daily that is only for you.  For me, writing grounds me. Maybe it’s yoga, knitting or baking. Whatever it is, do it often.
  1. Ask for Help – I had to get help from someone outside of my typical support system. I needed someone who could help me with a vision and goals. We are not meant to live life alone, don’t be afraid to lean on others.
  1. Find your tribe – I never understood the value of being surrounded by like-minded people until I left management and started my writing business. Along with Janine, I found the Healthcare Marketing Network and many supportive writers who help to keep my reflections positive and true.


This tribe offers support and friendship. But, the greatest asset of the tribe, is opportunities, such as this great Pop Up Blog Carnival hosted by the Healthcare Marketing Network.  

Blog carnival square

More great posts by freelance healthcare writers on this topic can be found on the Healthcare Marketing Network blog.

If you are a healthcare freelance writer or blogger and are interested in joining our tribe and participating in future blog carnivals, sign up here to receive notice of our schedule and topics for 2018!

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