"The notion of the narrowly focused life is highly romanticized in our culture. It's this idea of destiny or the one true calling, the idea that we each have one great thing we are meant to do during our time on this earth, and you need to figure out what that thing is and devote your life to it."
[Emilie Wapnick - video embedded below]
Five things have happened in the last few years that have brought me full circle. It seems to be a repeating pattern in my life yet, even in my mid-forties, I'm still trying to make sense of it.
First, I tried to go all-in on a career in education/academics. The trouble is, I couldn't narrow it down to specifics. The closest I got to something I really want to look into is educational psychology, and that's not easy to use in my work in language education.
The second is rediscovering my love for reading and writing. For reading, moving away from the screen and back to paper has re-awoken my love for the written word. I've been devouring books, newspapers and magazines, and make sure to read something every day. For writing, I found that specializing has been working great, and I don't get bored. I basically love to write - I always have. Both have also had the knock-on effect of reigniting my interest in law, which I studied at university.
The third is rediscovering how much spending time outdoors means to me. It's something I've found I need to do, for both physical and mental health. I love being outdoors and choose to go outside as often as possible.
The fourth is remembering how much I like design. I've been falling back in love with it, especially recently, and I've noticed that it makes me happy. I'm no longer involved in graphic design, and that's also something that makes me happy. Having said that, some recent developments mean that I'm more than likely to be involved in other areas of design. More on that as it comes along.
The fifth has been the most difficult, which is dealing with depression. Having come through the other side, it's given me a deeper appreciation of family, health, and the importance of happiness.
Finding a path
In the video below, Emilie Wapnick talks about people who have trouble finding one thing they want to do for the rest of their lives. I definitely fall into this group.
I used to think there was something wrong with me - our culture often tells us so - but Wapnick charmingly calls such people "multipotentialites".
This isn't the first time I've thought about pursuing a varied career path, but I've tended to compartmentalize things when, for example, making websites: one website for design, one website for education, one for writing and editing, one for the outdoors, etc.
I'm now linking common threads.
For example, design could incorporate writing and editing, education, and even the outdoors.
Reading can be linked to editing, and writing of course, and also education.
Law can incorporate reading, writing, editing, and education.
If you think I'm simply making tenuous links, here's something a bit more solid from the design example above:
Design + writing = articles and books about design.
Design + writing + the outdoors = articles or books about design that benefits the environment, or uses renewable, environmentally safe materials.
Design + writing + the outdoors + education = books, articles, courses or classes on how design could help solve some environmental problems.
With a bit of creativity, it's possible to link things you really like and begin to see possible work opportunities forming.
The goal, of course, is finding ways to bring those opportunities to fruition. And that's the next step.
For now, please enjoy Emilie Wapnick's interesting and illuminating talk.