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21 remarkable stories of people deciding to pursue their true passions later in life

These personal narratives serve not only as inspiration but also as a testament that there's no predetermined time or circumstance to pursue one's passions.

21 remarkable stories of people deciding to pursue their true passions later in life
Representative Cover Image Source: Pixabay | Aatlas

In life's complex journey, people often discover their true calling unexpectedly or even belatedly. This realization, akin to a gentle inner voice, has the power to change their path and reshape their purpose. Balancing between self-discovery and life's demands, individuals make choices that mold their futures. Recently, when Reddit user u/wibly_wobly_kid asked people to share their stories about finding their passions later in life, the thread turned into a hopeful space.

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Anna Shvets
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Anna Shvets

These personal stories are as inspirational as they are interesting, as they accurately display that there is no designated time and space to follow passions. We can choose to change career paths or pursue things we love at any given point in time and it proves to be extremely fulfilling.

1. Cooking 

I assumed that I haaaated cooking because my parents hated cooking so much. We were literally allowed to have ice cream floats for dinner if we made them ourselves and didn’t bug mom to feed us.
In my early 30s I started having gut issues which made it hard to eat most cheap, pre-packaged stuff. My budget was tiny and I then hit a depressive episode where I didn’t have the emotional energy to go be among humans. All I would do was go to work, come home and cook all evening. I practiced different recipes and techniques. My main focus was making local seasonal produce delicious and yet still as healthy as possible. It was so much fun! It’s like a craft project you get to eat. I had a few kitchen fails, but most things turned out pretty good. I always made batch meals so that I had wiggle room on days I was too depressed to cook.
As a benefit, the healthier diet -combined with learning new skills and seeing myself tangibly improve at something- all made huge, positive impacts on my life. It’s been almost a decade of cooking, learning and kitchen experiments. That depression ended up being a surprisingly positive event in my life.

2. Running

In my twenties, I didn’t run. Like, ever - not even 10 yards for a bus. But I started signing up for crazy events - like marathons, swims, long cycling events, triathlons - and working out a way to get round without dying! I’ve got an Ironman tri coming up in 6 months and I’m incredibly scared and excited... Now I’ve completed dozens of events and genuinely like just getting on my bike or going for a run. It’s tough to find time with a job and a young family, but it really clears my head.

3. Nursing

I am a geoscientist and have been working in it for a fair while. But, when I first went to university I was also keen to do nursing, but, something steered me to geosciences. But, the "what if" thought never left me. Then 2020 comes along.
My geoscience business was killed by Covid, so, I found work as a Covid testing operative. I am the guy who puts the swab in you. This, really ignited that idea of nursing. So, I am off back to university to train as a nurse.

4. Music

I always wanted to learn an instrument that wasn’t academic related. Over COVID lockdown I picked up the guitar. I picked it up pretty quick. So I learned the drums. Now I’m finishing building a music studio. I wanna write commercial jingles and just throw a bunch of sh*t online for fun.

5. Floral Designer

I don’t know if 29 is a “later stage of life” but , two years ago I stumbled upon a sales job at a floral shop and what I thought was gonna be another random job until I found a better one turned out to be something I love! Even though I was just sales, I always wandered around the designer area and well I’m learning to be a floral designer now! I’m so lucky to have great coworkers and that the new head designer is super nice and will teach me . The prior head designer was rather mean and kinda scared me the few times I tried to even venture out. After Two years of sales ( and a new head designer) I will finally have someone to formally teach me, I hope to own my own shop someday !
Representative Image Source: Pixabay/Wim Kantona
Representative Image Source: Pixabay/Wim Kantona

6. Audio Narration Artist

43-year-old woman here. Audiobook narration. I've always loved books - reading and writing them - and low-key wanted to get into narration (always been told the 'you have a great radio voice!' when I used to do customer service). A friend was getting into voice-over work, and I mentioned it to him one day. He told me about Learning Ally, a group that produces audiobooks for kids with learning disabilities so they can follow along with their classes, so I signed on as a volunteer for them. First doing checking - basically listening to the audio and making sure it was verbatim to the books - and then started narrating for them, mostly textbook chapters, and did that for about 2 years.
I learned it's a good idea to get a coach for narration, so I asked in a FB group, was approached by a coach who took me on as a student, and I worked with him for a year. He's a nonfiction narrator himself, so my training was on nonfiction only, but I love nonfiction anyway and figured it'd be a good way to get some titles under my belt, get my name out there, and then start working with a fiction coach. I've only done a couple of books, and admittedly haven't done much in the last year as I work full-time and started grad school last fall, so time is in short supply, but I do plan to start trying to get more work soon.
I love it when I'm doing it; even nonfiction works have a story to tell, and that's always been my passion, telling stories, since I was a young girl writing stories about aliens and vampires :)

7. Bartending

I live in Switzerland and once I finished school I had no idea what I wanna do so at first I signed up for an IT school. After 3 years of that I didn't want to continue anymore so I switched to a psychology school. Another 3 years there and I got tired of it as well. Then I was jobless for a year but eventually needed a parttime job for money, so I applied at Starbucks and became a barista. It was supposed to be just a temporarily solution but I started to really enjoy the job! So far that I ended up attending a 1 month bartending school last year and now work as a Bartender at a viking themed metal bar! I still do my job at Starbucks since I do enjoy it. But I plan to do Bartending fulltime once corona finally is over.

8. Video Game Developer

I graduated from college with a degree in graphic design. After doing some design work and IT support, I realized that my passion has always been for video games. I made it my goal to work as a game developer, and I recently landed my first serious role with a big studio on a bigger game.

9. Trail Bicycling

Trail bicycling is my passion. I’ve always loved bikes and had one except for the 14 years I was married because my husband would mock me for riding (he had never learned). So once he was gone I started biking again, on a beach cruiser. Then when I moved to a community with about 400 miles of trails I switched to a simple mountain bike. This was northern Arizona, and I’d do day-long rides in the hills outside town, challenging myself to pedal up the steep hills then rocketing down. I got my first mountain bike when I was about 60, and now at age 70 still ride at least one long (20-mile) ride a week, wherever I’m living. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

10. Sewing

Sewing/tailoring clothes. On a whim I took a class at a local community center and got hooked. After learning some basics in the class and following some YouTube videos I can make a passable pair of pants/trousers and basic shirts. I'm lucky that my local library had sewing machines you could check out so I didn't need to commit any real money early on. The best thing to come out of learning this new skill was making a pair of pants with actual pockets for my wife. Guys, you have not seen joy until you see your wife get a pair of functional custom pants with human-sized pockets. I thought her head was going to explode she was so happy.

11. Family-oriented career

I used to be a classical musician and I thought it was my passion, but I got so burned out. I eventually switched careers and went into programming, but I still wasn’t passionate about that. I realized that what I’m passionate about is my family, and this career allows me to focus on that.

12. Archaeology

All my life I wanted to be a veterinarian, but when I finally got into vet school, I hated it. I decided to reach out to my archaeology professor, whose class I enjoyed. Eventually I was accepted into an archaeology program, and now I'm going to Ireland to dig up a medieval cemetery. I turn 33 this summer, and for the first time ever, I feel excited about life.

13. Mountain Climbing

My dad discovered his life’s biggest passion at 67. Mountain climbing. Serious mountaineering. He climbed Kilimanjaro and Whitney just months apart.

14. Helping People & Advocacy

So I’m 37 and just now figuring out what my path is. Advocacy. I’m a natural helper, but helping other people find and use their voice to get what they need and want in life is the best! I primarily work with young adults with developmental disabilities, assisting them in pursuing as much independence in their life as possible. Especially as they prepare to move out of the family home into their own. There’s something so fulfilling about helping facilitate that. We also made the leap from a McMansion in the suburbs to a ramshackle farm in the middle of nowhere. And THAT was the key to completely changing my perspective on life, work, parenting, etc.
Representative Image Source: Pixabay/Felix Wolf
Representative Image Source: Pixabay | Felix Folk

15. Tango

I was nearly 40 when I began to learn to tango. For years it was just a fun hobby, but eventually transitioned into a passion, and only its absence in the past year has made me realize what an important part of my life it’s become. Thinking about how my life would have been different had I begun 20 years earlier makes me long for a life that might have been.

16. Law

Law. I was 45 when I went back to school. I’d worked blue collar jobs all my life, was a high school dropout. My daughter started taking paralegal classes and I thought, “I could do that.” So I got my GED and signed up for a 2-year paralegal certificate program through the local community college. Fell in love with law. Also discovered I was good at it. I had several professors who were lawyers tell me I’d be wasted as a paralegal and should go to law school. So I transferred to a 4-year school. Worked full time through undergrad and graduated with honors. Got into law school. I graduated law school at 55, oldest in my class. But I’d gone from being a high school dropout to a lawyer in just 10 years. Passed the California bar first try and I’ve been a public defender ever since, which is the only thing I ever wanted to do with it. I’m 60 now but I’m healthy and energetic and have a lot of years left. I love what I do, I’m very good at it, and it’s the best move I ever made.

17. Gardening & Landscaping

For me it was a strange progression in life (I am 56 now). Growing up my mother was very into gardening, growing food, composting and all (grew up at a farm/farming village in Germany). As a youngster I thought it was just her hobby, meh. I went into computers (had my first pc at my apartment in 1994) and graphic design. That was still lucrative then. Then went into publishing on top of that. A local newspaper.. (doom music applies here) Eventually I gave up the publishing, had to really. Started job hunting and had several opportunities but the one I chose was working at a greenhouse/garden center. Pay was just okay but I found happiness. Left there two years ago to start my own small business doing specialized landscaping (NO LAWN MOWING) as in I pull weeds, plant new perennials and consult and this is mostly for seniors and the disabled who can no longer care for their gardens. The amazing people I have met, the joy they feel, the stories they tell.. I'm more than good with this, even if my back hurts. And I bring them homemade soup, which is my other passion, in the off-season. I am blessed.
Representative Image Source: Pixabay/Jill Wellington
Representative Image Source: Pixabay | Jill Wellington

18. Painting

Painting. During my childhood I only made sh*tty doodles with pen on every corner of my textbooks (that landed me in many troubles because the textbooks were borrowed from schools' libraries). Or changing the faces in history textbooks. I got bored super easily during classes and doodling helped me concentrating. At the beginning of clinical year in dentistry school, it was extremely stressful time and looking up at certain details of someone's face helped to ground me. Usually I saw the ratio of facial features, the shapes, the way the shadow fall, the highlight, the angles, etc. I began with charcoal, then to watercolor, and now I mostly do my portrait painting with either gouache, charcoal, or digital painting. I was 21 when I started painting seriously and it's been 7 years. Painting isn't solely depends to skill or talent, but training and observation.

19. Early Childhood Educator

I went to college twice in my early 20s for journalism and communications, but never graduated. I spent the rest of my 20s in a dead end food service job, miserable and angry at myself. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life
My extended family has lots of little ones (cousins having cousins) and every time there was a family get together, I always found myself playing with and entertaining the kids. One day, my uncle pointed out how good I was with kids, and did I ever consider working with them? I laughed it off, but later thought “hey, I have nothing better going on. What’s the harm in researching a bit? I found out I could become an early childhood educator, working in daycares or kindergarten classes. So I applied to a couple of colleges and got in right away (applied on a Monday and got accepted the Friday). I quit my dead end job and focused entirely on school. I made the deans list all 4 semesters (something I have never done), and aced all my classes. I had a placement at a daycare/before and after school card place, and they hired me right after I finished my placement. So now I’m working there and happier than I ever was in my 20s.

20. Skateboarding

I'm 35 and have recently been diagnosed with PTSD and BPD. I needed a hobby that is hard but cheapish and mentally demanding for when I have bad times or days. I picked up skateboarding and it is better than any pill or therapist. Even when I fall it's a rush and takes my mind off of EVERYTHING except skateboarding. It's become an obsession but for once not one that involves drugs or alcohol so I'm not bothered by it being an obsession. I haven't been to a skate park yet because even thinking about it makes me feel sick..I'm getting old and feel strange about going especially as a beginner. I may not be great or even good but I feel at peace cruising or trying to learn a trick. I wish I had found it sooner and my passion for it exceeds even what I thought I was capable of. Thanks for reading. First ever post. Hope you're having a good day. Peace.

21. Legos!

I'm a LEGO artist. Love it. I've always been a creative, had returned to uni and got a design degree, then my 2nd son was born 6 weeks early. Bam. Straight to the NICU. Scariest time of my life. That first night, coming home from the hospital not knowing if he'd live or die, I stopped into a big box store, grabbed a few LEGO sets. Got home. Poured 'em on the floor. Threw away the instructions. And built. Just built as a way of processing. Shortly after that I became part of the LEGO community. A little after that I decided to take up photography. I started combining photography and LEGO. And step by step following that passion led me to becoming a professional LEGO artist. Its great. Oh, and the little one is fine now, and absolutely takes for granted that we live in the LEGO house.

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