I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up… that’s IF I grow up, I haven’t quite decided on that either.
As innocent as this question seems, what it is really forcing you to consider is “what one THING” do you want to be? This leaves many of us that are wired a bit differently searching for answers and feeling like failures when we have been through 5 jobs in 4 different industries in 10 years.
As adults, we are expected to find that one “thing”. Some people know early on what they want to do for a living. It’s your passion, your dream, the “thing” that gets you up in the morning. And then once you have your “thing”, you hone your skills, master your craft, and settle in til death do you part.
I have not found my “thing”. Is there something wrong with me? Don’t I have a calling? Or did I already find my thing, and either quit or failed and now it’s too late? Am I doomed to a life of no – thing – ness? It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me, but I would like to challenge this perception.
Let me give you a little backstory. My mum and dad are both very intelligent people. I came from good stock. Straight A’s all the way through primary school… until that other little family trait came into play… I started drinking and smoking at 14, so much so that I lived many of my teenage years in a dark depression. This was exacerbated by my own mother’s mental illness which affected me on a daily basis.
During a time when I should have been focused on me, and who I am becoming, I was more worried about her, and not becoming like her. My fear of being her mirror image took root, and through various self-fulfilling prophecies, I stuffed up. I dropped out of varsity, I wasn’t fulfilled by my first job, I job-hopped for a few years until I realised I needed to be in a completely different industry. At the age of 26, I had had 4 jobs in 3 different fields, and I had no idea where to next.
With a little guidance from my dad, I managed to get into a field a bit more suited to my personality.
The one thing that always got me about work is how I still felt like I was at school. And not in a good way. Always feeling like I am going to stuff up and get into trouble or something.
When I changed to a career more suited to me (IT consulting), suddenly I no longer felt like I was in school. I felt like maybe I WAS free. Maybe I COULD do anything.
I then read a book by Emilie Wapnick called “How to be Everything – A Guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up”. This author created a website called “Puttylike”, which supports the idea of multipotentialites. I am a multipotentialite. The evidence speaks for itself. One of the first exercises in the book was to figure out in which situations and activities you really felt alive. I realised I had definitely had passions in my life. Although some were short-lived, in the moment it was amazing!
Some of these activities included horse-riding, belly dancing, writing, acting, reading, pole dancing, yoga, training people and making videos. I did a canine first aid course, which led to volunteering at an animal physiotherapy practice one Saturday. A couple of weeks before I started my most recent job, I went for a drama scholarship audition… I have yet to find out if I made the finals. I started singing karaoke, I really love singing! I joined a church, and now I volunteer at a soup kitchen. I create websites for my family and friends for fun, I did an online pet accessories shop recently for someone. I paint with acrylic on canvas, and I also paint my nails. I go indoor trampolining and indoor go-karting for fun sometimes. I read Roald Dahl stories to my nieces in Sydney Australia via YouTube, my brother plays it to them before bedtime. I collaborate on IT projects with my mom in Germany (she works on the same technologies as me), and we spend quality time on skype technical writing together.
I created my own website, called “out of my mindbox”. It is still blank, but in trying to put this speech together for you all today, I realised I might not have enough to fill a book yet, but I certainly could start writing on my website. It took all my restraint to not just rumble off a 5 page list of all the things I love, do, and/or am interested in. I hope I can use this club as a forum to organise my thoughts and ideas better, so it doesn’t all just feel like a hurricane.