Thursday, October 16, 2014

Who are you?

Who are you?
Who looks back at you from the mirror?

Who are you? Could you write a tag line or elevator speech about yourself as they suggest you do in professional development seminars?

I've always had a difficult time bundling my skills and interests into a concise yet still coherent sentence, and I've decided that's a good thing.

Why?

Being in your 40's doesn't mean you've made all your major life decisions and the road is clearly paved. In fact, this time is exciting for many of us, who've worked in corporate America, paused to raise children, and now have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. It's an exciting fork in the road that I must admit I sometimes travel with exhilaration and other times with great fear.

I have no idea who I am, and I'm happy about that, because I'm just now discovering new interests and skills. 20 years ago I ate cereal for dinner because I could barely put in the effort to heat up soup. Today, I chop, sauté, and braise. I come home from restaurants and try to recreate dishes. 15 years ago I did nothing but eat, sleep and breathe technology. I worked 16-hour grueling, yet mind-bending days at a consultancy in Boston. If I had interests, I had no idea what they were. Today, I'm painting pianos, researching fascial tissue, teaching Pilates, writing books, blogging, and selling skincare products. Each activity opens doors, exciting new places to experiment and learn.

Not everything leads to success, and I've had my share of duds (calls for takeout when my meals flop, rejected books and blog posts, DIY projects gone horribly wrong, lackluster starts to new businesses).

These bumps can put a wrinkle in my confidence, and they require reflection about my own skills and interests. But all of this is crucial if I'm to truly understand who I am and what I can offer while living in this world.

Funny. When I was in my 30's I thought I had it all figured out. I knew what I wanted. I was climbing the corporate ladder and enjoying success. I did not have open questions. Today, I've learned that I'm far from figuring anything out. And when I think I have, something (a recession, an illness, or some other calamity) is likely to blow that understanding to pieces. Today I know I'll be working on developing an answer to that above question for some time. In fact, I'll worry if I ever arrive at a concise answer. How about you?


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