Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one .– Viktor Vicsek
It’s a brand new week and I’m thinking, career. I got a cooking gig at a restaurant this week, as I put it up on my social media pages, I got some messages, people asking me exactly what I do. Even me I’m here thinking about it.
The moment I realized I’m a multipotentialite, I literally went “Oh, great! Cool stuff, that explains it. But um… now, how do I make a living?”
The “what do you do” question is almost positively the chief, most pressing, anxiety-inducing concern that multipotentialites face. It’s so nice and cool and all the yummy feelings to realise you can do anything and be anything you want to be, but what do you really do to earn money and pay your bills. For me, it’s which of these skills do I trust and love enough to hone in and make my one area of specialisation. What do I do when I love all of it? What do i do when I don’t love any of it but I can do it? I need to have; I have to have one area of specialisation. How dare I not fit in a box. Jack of all trades and master of none has been the incomplete saying ringing in my ears since I was 9yo and it was often times to throw a dig at you for not being settled. Having multiple interests was discouraged in my corner of the world.
My problems started for me when, after studying to get a law degree I really wanted for 3 years, my future degree became invalid and I could no longer pursue it. That’s the short story. Ironically, a lot of classmates who stayed with that dream just got their Call to Bar today! Congratulations and Bravo to them. For me, dreams didn’t matter anymore. I couldn’t afford to start over, or have a degree I can’t get a job with. My parents weren’t exactly balling after sending me to a private school. I had a linear goal; finish school, get a car, get married, start taking care of my parents. In that order. So at 19, I graduated with a degree in International relations, and went into the job market. I went through the exact motions life expected of me.
I’ve had quite the 9-5 career. I started working as soon as I got my first degree, and I kept working while getting the second one. One thing I never was though; fulfilled. And for some 7 years brazing traffic to get to the office, I’ve been doing well putting food on my table. All that was before I got married. And then I relocated to Kenya, and while still on a part time job, I suddenly had ALL the gadem free time anyone could ever ask for or need. My brain started going crazy, first from boredom, then vision. Recalibrating. What do I do now? Do I want to continue my banking career? Nope. Corporate sales? Nope. Business? Not kicking off fast! Everyone was asking me, what now?! Strangers at social gatherings will ask “what do you do for a living”. They just wanted to know. And I never knew what to say. I usually ramble trying to list all the things I do and sounding ingenuine. My family will ask me how I’m faring and what I’m doing. Am I looking for a job? Well, truly? not as much as I should. It felt like the whole world was breathing down my neck to make a decision and be something. Years ago I once took a job I didn’t need to because too many important and non important people put the pressure on me. I had just left a job, I had money saved up to not do anything for 6 months and Hephie Brown was about to launch. It wasn’t anyone’s intention but I started feeling guilty for not having a job with the never ending questions and solemn nodding of head and “hmmmmns”. It’s like people don’t know what to do with you if you don’t have a job. They desperately need to rate you and place you on a pedestal to measure the level of respect to accord you. So I got this job, of course it ended up being frustrating, I watched people fight each other at work viciously and sometimes physically, and many get fired and many died (really I’ve never seen that much obituaries in my life). With everything, it had it’s perks so I didn’t hate it.
It started happening all over again, but with support from my husband who didn’t let me back down, and few great friends with the kind words and confidence boosters, I’m not 100 percent there in understanding my path or simply “picking a career”, but I’m letting out my creativity and that is the best thing that could have happened to me right now. I don’t even take the opportunity life gave me lightly. I’m grateful. I’m happier and lighter. I haven’t used anti-depressants in a whole year, and not had the need to, that’s an achievement trust me. It’s not easy striking out on your own, it has it’s many days of self doubt, part of it actually wondering what people will think, but I never underestimate the strength in a functioning support system.
If you’re going through this type of transition especially into the creative, into entrepreneurship, well done! Stay strong, the decision is the hardest part, the rest will come. Ignore the voices of doubt even when it comes from people who love you the most. They just don’t know better, or they’re half worried you’ll starve. Instead focus on and cling to any positive voices around you and let that be your support.
And as with every time and every thing, it’s led me to ask, how many people are living lives they don’t know they shouldn’t be living? How many creatives are being stifled in jobs and careers just to make a living because they are crippled by the fear of going at it alone? By fear of falling and failing? By not having the adequate support system to take the leap? How can we finally let go of the idea that a person needs ambition and a corporate career to be an important person in life? Who are we proving a point to and when do we just take a chill pill? How do we as creatives learn to structure our lives and creative endeavours in ways that will produce fulfilment for us, without also faffing away. I think in a society, happiness, fulfilment and functionality should be extolled above success and material gains, not because everyone should be poor, no, but society will end up functioning better and lead to greater wealth if everyone was at their best mental, spiritual and emotional self. Oh! Hello there Capitalism!
“Sow your seed in the morning and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well”– Ecclesiastes 11:6