For a very long time I struggled to define what my career was. When people asked, “What do you do?” I could not think of a proper response, as much as I knew what I did- more precisely, all the things I did.
As a child, it’s amazing when you can do all these things: tennis, art, dance- name it. As an adult- not really. It is perceived as being scattered, unsettled … flaky. People expect to hear one good solid answer, which is compatible with our social norms: a lawyer, an engineer, a teacher, a writer.
On the other spectrum is me: a writer/ journalist/ teacher/ communicator/ mother (I guarantee you it is on my career list)/ interviewer/ blogger … to name a few.
It caused me much confusion. The pressure to find that one thing made me make decisions I could now call stupid, looking back- all because of social norms. One of those stupid things was always trying to correlate those passions to economic gain. I ended up being a not-preneur- a term I have made up to describe the idea of not making ‘anything out of anything’ because you are too busy trying to define that one thing you think you should be, which, must have a direct link to a good economic output.
Then, one fine time, I happened to hear a term that completely changed how I saw myself. I clutched on to it as one grabs onto dear life- it was my savoiur! It was what I could claim to be – a multi-potentialite. This is how I managed to answer the often asked question with just one word. What a relief! For Van Gogh’s words (the way to know life is to love many things) did not give the level of assurance needed.
The best part is realising that:
- I did not have to give up any of them; on the contrary I was motivated to return the ones I had abandoned;
- They do not all need to be a source of monetary income. Therefore, I created a virtual cabinet labelled as follows: income, hobby, pass-time, unwinding, community, fun;
- But as I labelled my virtual cabinets, I got to acknowledge how most of them worked well together rather than separately. For instance: income/hobby, pass-time/fun, community/unwinding etc.
My discretion as a multi-potentialite is having that ability to make it all work- together- unlike the personality types who could not function under such “chaos”.
I shared this, because I have had both younger and older people telling me how they do not know what they should be and the narrative sounds much like mine. If only they know (if only I knew) earlier in life all they are capable of, they could be who they already are. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!
We need both the lawyer and the scientists/ journalists/ designers! Only that the latter needs more acceptance in our societies.
Now, the humour in all this is, I eventually got to work in an organization that absolutely caters to my tendencies. I get to be in involved in various projects within the same office. And I bet, had I not accepted who I was, I would have thought less of my job, despite it being my privilege.
Which are you? Care to share?