—Kelly, age 46
A: Kelly, I think your instincts are correct and you shouldn't feel bad about taking a job to make ends meet. You have to plug the hole in the boat before you can raise the sails. Allow yourself to see the job you get as a stepping stone, not a stopping point. Take it on knowing that you are using it as a platform from which to build the bridge to your true career. You write that "it's all up to me." I admire your self-reliance, and you have raised your son to the point of graduation, so you are clearly a resourceful person. But even though it is ultimately up to you to create the life you want, that doesn't mean that you have to do it alone. Never be ashamed or reluctant to tap into your network of friends for help. Be willing to learn from the experience of other people who have gone through the same thing you have. If you know other single moms who have found success getting back into the workforce, ask them their secrets.
Also, although you say that school is out of the question because money is limited, don't let your assumptions on that point prevent you from following your passion if more education is what it takes to create the life you want to have. Every college has needs-based scholarships and financial assistance programs to help people in exactly your situation, and their administrative staff will be very happy to answer any questions you have about what financial assistance is available and how to apply for it.