DEAR HARRIETTE: I am frustrated. I was certain that at this point in my life, my middle 50s, that I would "have it all together" -- I would have a lot of money saved and basically have a so-called "good life." Instead, here I am, recently laid off from my job, with no man and no money. I feel like such a failure. I know that nobody wants to hear this, but I don't know what to do. I can't even figure out how I got in this situation in the first place. I went to college and was on a good track, but it just hasn't worked out so well. I feel like I may need to change my career entirely. But I feel like it's too late to start over. I don't want to give up, but I'm at a loss for ideas. -- Clueless, Detroit
DEAR CLUELESS: While it is true that ageism is an unfortunate reality in our youth-driven culture, you cannot allow yourself to sink into a slump. It can be incredibly difficult to climb out of that place. Instead, think about your options. If you could dream a new reality for yourself right now, what would it look like? What would you do to earn money if you could do anything you want? Make a list so that you can examine it soberly to see what makes sense in your life.
If you discover that you need more education in order to reach that goal, go for it. I know many middle-aged folks who have decided to go back to school as they plan to reset their lives. The great news is, there are many online programs that allow you to matriculate comfortably from wherever you live. There also are many scholarships and grant opportunities for people who are looking to continue their education -- even when they are older students. Go for it. Make the first step toward making a dream come true. Dream it and do it!