Sunday, October 16, 2011

This will change your life

Life is a funny thing and human beings are interesting creatures. We struggle to understand why we were put here and we spend an awful lot of time attempting to come up with structure for our lives or guidelines for how it should work.

I have spent years listening to people tell me what the Rules are. The Rules being things like:
You need to pick one thing to do for the rest of your life.
Stability is the most important thing and unless you have a stable income life will be scary.
If you're talented or good at something you should make a career out of it.
You can't be happy at a job because a job will always ultimately be work and work isn't fun.
Do what you want when you're young because one day you will have to 'settle down'.

These are only a few of the Rules I've heard but I think this gives a pretty clear idea of what I'm talking about. I've got a revelation for you now.

Life doesn't have rules.

Life is chaotic, unpredictable and ever changing. In fact, the only irrefutable 'rule' life has is that everything changes.

In my life I have had multiple jobs, positions, titles and careers. I've delivered flyers, babysat, been a youth worker, successfully started a non-for-profit organisation, been paid to perform as a drag king, acted as researcher and administrator on an anti-violence campaign, been an assistant for a film festival, been an animator, a kennel technician, worked in a library, been a project manager for three different organisations managing completely different kinds of projects, done merchandising, building and sales at IKEA, been a freelance journalist, provided fundraiser support, become a graphic designer and marketing material developer for a charity and held two successful art gallery showings.

My income hasn't always been particularly stable but for me success is not measured by how much money I can make but how happy and satisfied I am with my life. I'd rather be content and poor than rich and bored.

I have many talents, as we all do, but that doesn't mean I want to make a career out of every single one. And we shouldn't have to. You can have an incredible talent and passion for cooking but being a chef just might not be your thing and that's O.K. Getting a paycheque for your talent doesn't make it any more or less important.

And as for having fun on the job? I've had jobs which were so much fun I forgot I was getting paid to do them. In fact, I often felt like I'd do it for free because I loved it so much. When I stopped loving them so much it wasn't because the job had changed or because it was a job that my interest went away. It was because I'd gotten what I'd come for. When you get bored with something or you start to dread going to work, it's not because work is or should be that way - it's the universe telling you it's time to move on.

You're allowed to move on no matter what age you are. My favourite example of this is Diana Athill. Diana spent her life in editing. She'd never written and didn't want to. She also never married although she was in many long term relationships. She travelled and she had many experiences. She now writes books and because of her experiences she also spends a lot of time speaking publicly. Diana is 94 years old.

She has never 'settled down' and nor should she. And nor should you. If you want to move to a new country, learn a new language, develop a new skill, take on a new career - you should, regardless of how old you are.

Life is a beautiful ever changing experience and you only get one as far as any of us know so you better go out there and live it.

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