Originally published via Modest Truth Mag on June 20, 2017.
We’re sitting on the couch in a cool room, escaping from the Southern summer heat, listening to the laughter of children and family just audible over the hum of a fan. People are walking in and out, making preparations for a birthday party that, just three short years ago, Maribeth would have missed.
“It was a big leap of faith.”
You’d never guess it from looking at her, but Maribeth (54) recently made a huge change in her life. She originally worked for a dermatologist and then a cardiologist. She was a medical assistant with tons of experience, working hard for her family. It was a career that she had held for 28 years.
But one day, she needed a change. And that change involved flying the friendly skies.
“It was a job I always wanted when I was younger. I was looking for a more flexible job to have days off in the middle of the week to see babies.” She’s referencing, of course, one of the babies whose birthday we are now celebrating with cupcakes and hotdogs.
Now, Maribeth is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. It’s quite a change from being in a cardiologist’s office, but she says that a lot of it is very familiar for someone who has worked with people her whole life. With her new job, she gets to meet people from all over the world. She says she sees people on their honeymoons, or on business trips, and she gets the joy of hearing all of their stories.
“Everybody’s got a story,” she says with a smile.
Maribeth spends her days flying all over the United States, rather than working under the fluorescent lighting of a clinic. She sends pictures from the poolside, watches the fish being thrown at Pike Place Market, and enjoys speciality foods from all over the country. The best part? “Traveling on Delta’s dime.” As a flight attendant, she gets to see places and things she wouldn’t without the new job.
The hardest part, she believes was jumping into something unfamiliar, especially since she’d been working something familiar and stable for almost three decades.
“It was learning a whole new job. There was an 8 week intensive training program. There was a big fear of the unknown. Am I going to be able to support myself? Am I going to be able to get into a new routine? Because there is nothing routine about being a flight attendant.”
Over 80% of people over 45 consider changing careers, but only 6% ever actually do. Maribeth is one of those people.
And how happy is she with her drastic career change? Well, earlier this week she sent me a picture of an iguana by a pool while she was relaxing on a layover. She talks about the people she meets and the places she goes. She’s planning trips to Austin, to Seattle, and everywhere in between. She’ll be home this Monday to the witness the birth of grandchild number four. And that’s something that just wouldn’t happen without making that difficult step from hospital to airplane.
Maribeth’s advice for those wanting to make a change?
“If it’s a passion, go for it. It was a leap of faith, but it’s been rewarding. Just go for it.”
Writer, Photographer, Dream-Seeker