When I was just out of high school, I became involved in genealogical research. I started with my maternal family’s JOHNSON history. There was good information to go on, including a family tale of the 1840 move from Iredell County, North Carolina, to Hancock County, Indiana, as told by Sarah (JOHNSON) KUHN to her grandchildren. At the time of the move, she was 7 years old.
Everything genealogy kept me entertained back then. I was young. I was motivated. I had caught the bug. It seemed like nothing could stop me. I bought 3-ring binders whenever they were on sale because I knew I would need them. I had package upon package of lined notebook paper and notebook dividers.
Serendipty led me in directions I would not have known to go. I found information that documented and added to a couple of family stories.
And best of all, I had my mother with whom to share this. This was her ancestry, too. I didn’t realize how much of it I was actually doing for her. When I have a major discovery now, it aches that I can’t share it with her.
When I went to college, I planned to major in history to augment a career pathway of becoming a professional genealogist. But something popped into my head that said I needed to be more pragmatic. There was this not-so-pleasant voice telling me that I needed to choose something that I would be able to make a living doing as soon as I got a 4-year degree — something that I could get a job doing immediately. So I did some career counseling using one of those old computer program questionairres, and it came up with three top majors for me: accounting, math, and computer science. Accounting sounded boring, and I knew that math would require at least a masters level degree. So I chose the unknown (to me) territory of computer science. Programmers were in very high demand in the late 1980s. They still are.
I don’t regret having chosen that career. I had been an above average software engineer during those decades. I made an above average salary, and except for periods of unemployment for health reasons, I had never been without work.
What I did not expect, though, was that over 30 years later, I would be disabled and no longer able to work as a software engineer. I have to tell you that I miss it, too. I miss my fellow software geeks, our teams, the projects, intense problem solving, and writing code. But my brain says no to that higher level of thinking, and my body says no to working consistently at a job (they tend to want you to show up on time every day and not fall asleep at your desk).
I started this blog after I became disabled. Now, I am free to do two things that I love very much: have more pets and do genealogy. (It’s hard to have an above-average number of pets when you work 40-60 hours a week away from home.) It’s a beautiful thing, too, that I can do so much incredible research now from my laptop at home. (Confession: I write quite a bit of blog posts while I’m lying flat in bed or sitting in my recliner. Don’t spread that around.)
It’s not like I haven’t had a few opportunities to become certified or even to go professional. I’ve at least once purchased all of the required literature. And of course, I have not stopped researching family history. I have done above average genealogical work during these decades. Perhaps, then, rather than seeing this time as the end of my career, it could, and possibly should, be my opportunity to begin my dream career, even if I don’t do it professionally. If this is really what I wanted to do all along, perhaps I had better do it. Maybe I could become certified.
But I’d have to become more focused. I’d have to try to get organized again, like I was in the good old days. So, honestly, I don’t know if it will happen.
And if I were to begin the certification process, I would have a year to finish it, unless I got extensions. So I have to be ready when I say I’m ready. When it’s time to press start, I have to be ready to start, so that when the finish line draws near, I’m ready to finish.
Certification is with the Board for Certification of Genealogists. It’s not cheap, and there is then an annual cost and a renewal cost. So to do it just to say I did seems a bit extravagant. Seventy-five dollars here. Three hundred dollars there. Ugh. It also seems like a lot of pressure to put on myself. And quite frankly, I don’t think I’m in league with those Certified Genealogists whom I respect.
I don’t know what I’m going to do, but this post itself has been hanging around for months. If nothing else, I’ll publish it.