“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This is a common anxiety provoking question that I ask high school kids who are thinking about their future, when positing about post secondary options and alternatives. In my travels, I casually mention that the average person will go through 7-8 careers in their lifetime. I am living proof of this. I am now moving on to my 8th career and it’s possible I’m not done. I could change again at any given notice. I hate to admit it ,but all my life, I have pursued careers by following my heart…..following my dreams and the whispers of passion and intuition.
However, in time, they all were met with a sense of boredom or a feeling of having outgrown them, as the challenges waned and lost their appeal. I figured I would want to be a graphic designer for the rest of my life – I loved the flow of beautiful color combinations, and the art of delicately balancing elements in newsletters or business card design. But then I tired of creating for someone else, and the passion I once had for the craft gradually faded away. I had devoted so much money, time and energy pursuing this field – it was a shame to start over, but start over I did – and it was just one career in a long line of passing careers.
The problem was not that I had a short attention span or lack of focus – I worked for ten years as a graphic designer, and loved it dearly. The issue was that I had too many interests, and too many possibilities to fill my days. My time was filled with hobbies and affections for all kinds of recreation, games and past times.
What was wrong with me that I couldn’t stick with one career?
My friends with longevity had long established careers, receiving promotions, seniority, and advancements in their careers after several years of commitment and stability. Surely I was doing something wrong. My husband perceived me as a flake, someone who flitted from one job to another. “When are you going to settle down and stick with one thing?” he asked me on more than one occasion. “When will you settle down?”
This TED talk at http://ed.ted.com/featured/cXwd0sDU presented a rather unique perspective, a new way of looking at my flightiness and fickleness – and the answer to the dimming of my self esteem. Our culture does not teach people to reach for their highest potential(s), it does not inspire them to be all that they can be. We walk around thinking that we need to choose one career – that we have one true calling. But that’s not the case!
In combining two or more fields, we create a synthesis of ideas that blend and amalgamate with one another, leading to new combinations of thought and brilliance. Creativity builds when we are able to draw upon a multidiscipinary mindset or attitude, and this can lead to strange, original and cutting edge ideas that transcend the boundaries of the ordinary. At UBC, I was present at a motivational talk from a teacher, who claimed he had secured his position through his diverse and incredible set of credentials – a history of melded disciplines that made up a uniquely different set of skills, ones that came together and made him the perfect candidate to be the football coach of a starring team. It stirred within me a sense of belonging and acceptance – here was someone like me who was diverse in his interests, but it had served to benefit him in his aspirations and fulfillment of his dreams. As the TED talk speaker says “transferable skills across disciplines” serve to strengthen our ability to make our mark in the world and to make a difference by finding a niche market that is just perfect for our multitudes of skills, interests and abilities.
So the graphic designer in me was able to heal through the challenges implicit in this wild goose chase, and find the flicker of passion lying in the midst – the love of color, design and art. It had been there all along, but now it was changing, transforming, transmuting. Turning over a new leaf, I again followed my passion for art and was led in the direction of mixed media artistry – art for its own sake, for fun, for creation, for self-expression. And that morphed into a love for Expressive Arts Therapy, thus “Art IN Therapy” and art as medicine. It builds upon my social psychology background, my love of art/aesthetics and therapy/counselling. Add to that a lifetime of healing traumas and wounds, and a willingness to help others trying to make their way – and you have a perfect fit for my new profession.