For women like us who have spent numerous years creating our identities around our work or our families, taking a step in a new direction can feel like a katydid molting its exoskeleton. It’s unsettling and liberating in equal measures, possibly painful–we can’t ask the katydid–and we suspect, itchy.
Here we share stories of women who have scratched a new itch. We hope these stories may provide the insight and encouragement for others to leave their old skin–familiar and easy as it is–and go into a new world a little naked and scared. But not alone.
Today, we’re happy to highlight the work of Dione Goyette of Toronto, Canada.
What kind of work or passion are you pursuing now?
I have been a freelance graphic designer now for five years.
How old were you when you began in this new direction?
I was 50.
What did you do before you made this change?
For years I had worked in developing new products for an experiential company until our family moved to the U.S. where I couldn’t legally work. We lived in North Carolina for five years and because I couldn’t work, I started my own small company that published playing cards with artwork from local artists.
What prompted you to make this change?
We had moved back to Toronto from the U.S., and my family was not happy about it (long story). I had returned briefly to my old job but was quickly laid off due to a temporary downturn in business. I had always dreamed of being a graphic designer. I worked closely with one at my job, and I was always so jealous of what she got to do. One night, January 1st, 2015, I couldn’t sleep and googled a local graphic design program. The semester was starting in only a week or two. I signed up in the middle of the night with no one’s permission. I announced it to my husband when he woke up the next day.
What from your previous work or life situation helped you in your reinvention?
I had been to art school for two years when I was younger and was basically an art director for all the new products I had created in past jobs and roles–so all I really needed to do was learn the programs to make my own designs by myself.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
I was the oldest in all my classes by about 25 years and was self conscious when I made friends but I did it anyway. I had to get over a feeling that I knew a lot about design already and open myself up to new ideas and really challenge myself creatively.
How are you overcoming them?
I find that, for any new project, I am quick to whip up a new design that I like. I have to fight the urge to just go with that one design and really spend time creating several designs in several different directions. When I push myself, many times I surprise myself and I always, ultimately, end up with something that’s way better than my first instinct.
What fears did you have to face?
I was afraid I wouldn’t get any work. I was afraid of everything I didn’t know. I was afraid of not being good. I was afraid of making serious errors when it came time to print or publish my work. I was afraid I’d not be able to continue coming up with new and unique ideas. Shall I go on???…….:)
What kind of support did you receive in your reinvention?
My husband supported me a lot as it was expensive to take all the classes I needed and I wasn’t bringing in any money. He never asked me to stop. My friends passed my name around, and I got several good opportunities right away, which helped me build my portfolio.
How have you grown or how has your life improved as a result of taking on this new pursuit?
I freakin’ LOVE what I do now. I am so excited every day that I get to jump on board my big Mac and start drafting ideas. I look back each year at my previous work and see right away how much I’ve improved. I keep getting more and more jobs that are so varied, from car wraps to book layouts. My kids are proud of me and I’m actually making a small but decent income annually now. I love the flexibility and have even found a way to incorporate going to a gym on a regular basis (never been a gym person before). My old job has also hired me back as a freelancer several times for graphics overflow. Full circle!!
What advice would you give to other women at this age who are looking to reinvent themselves?
If you have something that you always ‘wished’ you could have done, then DO IT! I feel like you have to focus on the specific things that really gnawed at you over your career. If it’s just a whim you have in passing then it might not be worth a whole overhaul of your life. If it’s something you just can’t shake, then you will be way more motivated, dedicated, and freaked out when it actually happens.