Friday, April 20, 2012

"What do you do?" a career shift conundrum

Yes, you can be in two places at once. I'm here, and today I'm also on Project Eve. Let's meet up over there, too! Leave one of your selves here.

How I got in

"Dear Scrollwork: Congratulations! After evaluating over 700 applicants, you have been chosen as a guest blogger for Project Eve. Your story will be featured as part of a series that showcases different aspects of the "Eve experience." Our objective with this series is to provide inspiration and help end the isolation that women feel when they are making a career change. We have received your story and believe that it is ready to be published.

Best regards,

Meridith and Kim
Co-Founders, Project Eve"

How I picked what I gabbed about (succinctly)

My guest post is an extension of my reinvention theme here at Scrollwork.  Clarity comes with naming an experience, my late 1990s feminist grad studies taught me. (Yes, I'm a product of the previous century, egad.) 

The trouble with naming something is that narrowing it down is necessary. Nobody likes being reduced to one thing. It's limiting. At least that's my view on life. Maybe yours is different. Did you always know, from the day you climbed out of your crib, what you wanted to be when you grew up? And what's with that question, anyway?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" A grown person, of course. As to what that grown/still growing person might want to do, heck, a million and one things! Things, in my case, only remotely related to my bachelor of arts in Literature. Cue the term multipotentialite.

It's not on

Whatever you do, ignore wikipedia's definition of multipotentiality as "a significant problem for those who experience it, leading to overscheduling, high stress levels, and impulsive or conformist choices in gifted children, and to feelings of social alienation, purposelessness, apathy and depression in the brightest of adults." Wiki cites Leonardo da Vinci as an example.

I don't fit the bill for "the brightest of adults," which has likely saved me major moolah on anti-depressants. Also I resent that multipotentiality is viewed as a problem. It's a blessing! I embrace it. Purposelessness? Au contraire. Passions.

Your turn

Tell me what you had wanted to be and what you ended up doing. Tell me what you would do now if you had your druthers. Tell me if you closely identify with what you do as essentially your identity, or if what you do after hours/now that you're retired is what really defines you.

I like being presented with choices, don't you? So you can choose to comment here, or you can mosey on to Project Eve, where they will ask you to register and wait for approval in your inbox before you can comment. They won't ask you to donate blood or disclose your deepest, darkest secrets, I assure you.

My quick getaway

I'll be around to respond to your comments here or yonder until Monday/April 23. Don't let that stop you if you're reading this after that day. I'll be back! The hubs and I will be taking a two-week cruise to the four main isles of Hawaii to celebrate our 25 years plus six months together. The delay was 'cause on our actual anniversary, as some of you may recall, we were just grateful that the drainage tube from my emergency appendectomy had been taken out and we could go (limp, in my case) to dinner.

Will I blog about our vacation? Only if I find something quirky to remark on. Chances are I will.



  1. The 3 year old grandson, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, so very confidently answered: "A kid." I guess, if I had known I was destined to have him in my life, when the same question was thrown at me decades ago, I would have readily answered: "That little boy's grandma." But no, I didn't know that then, so no, that was not my answer. Instead, the answer changed in quick succession, from "lawyer" to "PR practitioner" to "advertising maven." Little did I know that I would at first grudgingly, then later wholeheartedly settle for wife, mother, and eventually grandmother. No identity crises, no need for hyphens or lengthy explanations. Perhaps this post isn't meant for me.

  2. That sounds just like him, too. Never having met him, I feel I know him, thanks to your anecdotes.

    I remember Dad wanting you to be a lawyer. He just wanted me "not to be stupid."

    Here's the irony of my life at near-middle age (assuming I reach my 100th birthday): I am content in wifehood, whereas I used to ask "Is this all there is?" and I am ecstatic about grandmotherhood, which has been a gift I didn't even know to ask for.

  3. Congrats on this. What an honor. I always wanted to write stories and poetry, but I was forever putting it aside for other things in life. Now, I'm writing and thoroughly enjoying it, alon with friends like you. What would I like to be doing right now? Living in Hawaii again - ah, the warm breezes blowing, the perfect weather, the Aloha spirit.

    1. The blessings of this stage of life include finding time to do what we've always wanted to do. I'll be thinking of you in Hawaii, Donna! How long did you live there?

  4. Congratulations on being selected for Project Eve, Scrollwork!!

    I love the term Multipotentialite. Maybe that's what I've got (though I don't know that I'm among the brightest of adults either. Maybe our multipotentialite-ness drains some of our natural brightness?? >:{ ) In any case, I agree that it's a positive thing. I wish I could smush together all the things I love and am pretty good at and make one good career that paid enough so my husband doesn't have all the pressure and gave me enough time to be mom.

    How about this: an advice columnist who got couples together and then got to choreograph their wedding dances? But never traveled for work. Or did laundry.

  5. Thanks, Lisa!

    For sure, having too many potential paths to explore sacrifices the Big Break that single-minded pursuit might bring. But I'm willing to risk it! I don't want to look back and say, "If only I'd tried this instead..."

    There's a niche for your dream career! Funny that you'd mention wedding choreography—that's part of what I do! I wouldn't mind traveling for work now and then, if it's the only way I'd get to see more of the world outside this little town.

    The laundry, hmmm. It's part of what I do, too, since I have to thoroughly wash, sometimes dye, and drip-dry all the thrifted pieces from which I make my eco-friendly clothing. But the process of handling each garment so much helps me become acquainted with it, so I can more easily recall it when I'm designing. There, I just made doing the laundry more palatable! :)

  6. Love it: you have found a way to make laundry art! I wish I could. I also wanted to let you know I just nominated you for a Sunshine Award. (It was my first!)

  7. Oops. Had the wrong URL attached. Here is what I meant:

  8. Congratulations, Lisa, and thanks so much! I've left you a comment on your blog, too. You'll have plenty more awards, just you wait.

  9. Hey, Congratulations!

    What I wanted to be: a writer. What I ended up doing: flailing around at various things, then becoming a teacher out of desperation for a "real" profession. Now, I'm a writer. Still trying to get paid (more), but it's coming.

    Multipotentiality! Yes--other possible careers: artist, interior designer, hairstylist.