Haven’t achieved all your ambitions yet? Don’t worry about it.
Do you want to write a book? Do you dream of swimming the English Channel or climbing Mount Everest? Do you want to catch a train from one end of China all the way through Russia? Do you want to start your own business and build your empire?
Whatever your dream is don’t give up on it: it’s never too late to turn it from fantasy into reality.
We were reminded of this fact after reading this viral Twitter thread about the American actor Kathryn Joosten. In 1980, at the age of 40, Joosten divorced her husband and quit her job as a psychiatric nurse at a Chicago hospital in order to pursue her true passion: drama.
In 1980, a psychiatric nurse at Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital (and mother of two) divorced her husband in the midst of a particularly troubled married life and decided to pursue her lifelong dream of an acting career. She was 40.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 19, 2018
The road was not easy, this Twitter thread stressed. For a decade she struggled to support herself and her two children as a single mother, taking acting classes on nights and weekends and painting houses and hanging wallpaper during the day to pay the bills.
She persevered because of her passion but also because when her own mother passed away she stressed to Joosten that her biggest regret in life was never fulfilling her ambitions.
Almost 20 years after she decided to follow her dreams and become an actress Joosten landed her big break: President Bartlett’s secretary Mrs Landingham on The West Wing. With her sharp tongue but kind heart, Mrs Landingham became one of the most beloved characters on the iconic series until her death in the finale of the second season.
But that wasn’t the end of Joosten’s career. She followed The West Wing with roles in Scrubs, My Name is Earl and Joan of Arcadia before signing onto Desperate Housewives as Karen McCluskey, Wisteria Lane’s resident grouch with a heart of gold. Joosten played Karen for eight seasons, picking up two Emmys in the process.
In the series finale, Karen dies of lung cancer after covering up a suspicious murder in true Desperate Housewives fashion. Just 23 days later Joosten herself passed away of the same disease.
Writer Charlotte Clymer, who was behind the viral Twitter thread celebrating Joosten’s life and career, said that she wanted to share the story to counteract ageism, particularly against women.
“I hate the way we strip older folks of their humanity by asserting that they can’t do something not on the basis of their ability or competence but the date on their birth certificate,” she tweeted. “As though they just need to accept their lot past 50.”
“If someone decides in their 50s, 70s, 90s or whatever that they want to go to medical school or become an actor or open a business or run for office, who in the hell are we to say they can’t?” she added.
If you love something and you're willing to put in the work and meet the standards of excellence in an ethical way, why should age ever matter? Telling someone they're "too old" to do something denies their gifts to the world, and how dare any of us do that.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 19, 2018
Vera Wang didn’t open a bridal store until she was 41. Anni Proulx published her first book at 57, and Laura Ingalls Wilder at 65. Julia Child’s first cookbook was released when she was 49. Jane Lynch was cast in Glee at 51 and Judi Dench in James Bond in her 60s. Patricia Field, the fame costume designer for Sex and the City, got that gig when she was 54.
If you want to change careers, do it. If you want to see the world, do it. If you want to do something you’ve never done before, do it, no matter how old you are.
“We should all be so lucky to have that drive and inspiration and reject the naysayers of the world who view dreams as subject to the perceived and arbitrary nature of a number,” Clymer tweeted. “Stop shaming folks because of age. If they can deliver, honor that. We’re all better off.”
Now, more than ever, age is just a number. Don’t let it define or limit you and your dreams.
Want to find out more? Why not attend ‘Give up your day job and do something you love’ at Stylist Live. Fancy making your side hustle your sole income? Is becoming your own boss all it’s cracked up to be? From doubters to days off, staffing to successes, learn from the women who have made it happen for themselves.
Stylist Live brings everything you love about Stylist magazine to life across three days of experts, interviews, comedy, food, beauty and fashion exclusives, from 10 -12 November, Olympia London.