“Find your passion,” they said.
I found 20.
The concept of picking one thing to excel at, to be the best at, to do over and over again until it’s perfect, has always eluded me. Even growing up the idea of having to pick just one thing to be my career terrified me. Sometimes I would settle on something and have an answer to the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question that I might even be excited about for a few days, but then I’d change my mind again. Most of the time I didn’t know. It was in the future. It didn’t matter. I would decide later.
Suddenly I was a junior in college and I still hadn’t settled on anything. This was after I toyed with the idea of being an Elementary school teacher just so I could take classes in a variety of subjects and not one. But I didn’t want to actually do that. When I finally decided to graduate eventually I picked my major (English) and minor (Sociology) based on the number of credits I’d already accumulated in those subjects. I liked reading, and Sociology was interesting, so that was good enough.
It didn’t really lend itself to a career though. Since I didn’t want to teach or work in publishing like the rest of my classmates in the major, I ended up trying something else, something that took me a couple years to discover was completely wrong for me. After that, I started working in technology because I’d spent my college years doing various technology-related jobs, insisting that it was only a hobby.
I like working in technology. I wish I’d figured it out years ago.
But it’s not enough. And I’ve stopped looking for the one, magical career that will completely fulfill me, because it doesn’t exist.
I’ve struggled a lot with this. The current expectations is to find what you love and do it and become the best and be happy and sunshine and rainbows! I’ve struggled with the reality that I’ll probably not be the number one person at any one thing, because I can’t let the other things go. I don’t want to force myself to let certain parts of me gather dust, and I finally realized that I don’t have to.
“Ask yourself what you would do if money didn’t matter, then make a career out of that,” they said.
I would read. A lot. But I know if I was forced to read, reading would loose some of its joy. I experienced that as an English major. I also want to choose what I read, because reading, for me, is an escape from the rest of life, and I want to choose where I’m going to escape to.
Technology would still be important. I’d spend more time at hackerspaces. I would make websites. I would build that iPhone app that’s in my head.
I would do art. I would do crafts, too. I could never be one of those people who are known for making just one kind of thing in just one kind of way. I love watercolor, but I also want to try oils sometime. I would sew and paint designs on objects and do embroidery and knit if I could keep my cat from tangling up my yarn.
Playing with my cat would be a priority. I couldn’t make a full-time career out of animals, though. Mainly because my cat is just way more awesome than other cats.
I’d play video games. I’ve already participated in several closed and open betas, and I would like to do more testing. I write amazing bug reports. I’m more of a video game collector than a player, though, so I wouldn’t want a career as a video game tester. I’m also generally just not very good at them. My hand-eye-coordination needs some work.
Lots of cooking and baking would happen.
I’d have as many blogs as I want! I’d never worry about having too many blogs on too many subjects.
I would start my own business.
I would write! Somehow, writing is one area where I’ve actually been able to narrow myself down to a subgenre: sci-fi. I would write about myself, too, in one of my many blogs.
Looking at my list, I notice something in common about all of these things: I already do most of them. I find time to read on my commute and before I go to sleep. I still enjoy working in technology, and while being a full-time student and having a full-time job I’ve been able to teach myself programming. I will make that iPhone app! I started doodling and painting again. I’m working on designs for some other things I want to make, and I actually got started on all the pillows I want to sew. I love playing with my cat, and playing video games. (Although by “playing” I mean “buying on steam and forgetting about” most of the time. For video games. Not cats.) I completed two major baking projects last weekend. It’s okay to have a lot of blogs is my new mantra. I’ll start my business someday. My first sci-fi novel is about 3/4 finished and my second one is just an idea, but it will happen. The only thing on my list I haven’t done is start my own business, but I’m only 29. It will happen. I am a modern renaissance woman!
I can do all of these things. Maybe I wont be “The Best” at any one of them (except playing with my cat) but that doesn’t mean I can’t be good. And even if I’m not any good, that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun doing it!
The other day I tweeted about this issue and my tweets must’ve hit a nerve with a few people–they was favorited and re-tweeted a few times. What I hope anyone gets out of this is this:
You don’t have to live your life the way everyone else says. You can be passionate about 100 different things, if that works for you.
Don’t pick one part of yourself. Don’t hide the rest of you in boxes in an attic somewhere in a forgotten attic in your mind. Do all the things!