Towards the end of 2011 I started feeling restless. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Over lunch one day with two close work friends, I tried to articulate how I was feeling. Next to the two of them, one, a talented guitar-playing-singer-songwriter, and the other a former art gallery owner, I felt hopelessly dull.
What about doing something creative, they suggested helpfully. I nodded, but inside I was thinking, easy for you to say, but I’m not creative at all!
But throughout the week, their words stuck with me, and I decided to give some creative-adjacent things a go.
I thought perhaps I would be good at knitting, so I made a beeline for the Lincraft store on Bourke Street to pick up some needles, wool, and a beginners guide to knitting. Indeed, the methodical nature of the task appealed to my logical brain, but the perfectionist in me grew quickly frustrated when stitches mysteriously disappeared, and I abandoned my scarf before I’d really begun.
After admiring some decorated calico bags for sale on Etsy for $20 apiece, I decided that was something I could definitely do, and maybe even make some money while I was at it. I dreamt of my pop up market stall at the Queen Vic Markets, and my future working form home as my online business took off. This time my efforts lasted just long enough for the Spotlight salesgirl to tell me they were out of calico bags.
One Tuesday I flirted with the idea of becoming a trained masseuse, and working for myself, and by Wednesday I had decided I was starting a carambar import business.
In short, I was all over the place. What seemed like a brilliant idea one day would be revealed the next to be silly, or impossible.
Then, a friend sent me the following link.
Of course, the first time I read it, I skimmed the whole thing without writing anything down, sure that I would find the answer out my osmosis. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. You actually have to answer the questions. Like, on paper, with a pen. I know. What. A. Drag.
It isn’t the kind of online quiz where you answer a bunch of multiple-choice questions and it spits out a disparate list of occupations you might enjoy (usually spanning everything from hairdresser to scientist). The questions are designed to help you determine where your passion lies, and the answers, for me at least, were not clean cut. But what did emerge were a few key themes.
Food. Independence. Writing. The first one I knew about before I even started the questionnaire. But interestingly, while I was answering the questions it became clear to me that I didn’t actually want to work full time with food. But things a little bit removed, like food writing, hosting gourmet tours and writing meal plans for people sparked my interest. And realising that I could cook just for fun too, was a bit of a revelation. I seemed to think that I needed to manically combine all of my passions into a well-paid career in order to be happy.
Independence was one thing I had been feeling for awhile, yet unable to properly articulate. I often felt that I didn’t want to manage anybody else, or lead a team. But I also wasn’t 100% comfortable working directly underneath someone either, taking orders. I felt that perhaps this desire for independence might indicate I’d be happy in a freelance type position, or working as a consultant.
And as for writing, I almost laughed out loud when I realised that was it. That was the thing that had been hovering in my peripheral vision, just beyond my reach. As a little girl I would stay up late, straining my eyes devouring books by moonlight. I read quickly and avidly, and told anyone who would listen to four-year-old me that I was going to be an author. I liked to write, and my short stories earned me praise from my schoolteachers. But, as I got older, without consciously acknowledging it, I’d come to understand that authors didn’t earn any money, and that if you wanted to make a career out of writing, you had to be a journalist, and I didn’t want to be a journalist. Therefore, I couldn’t write.
But the real power of these questions is that they made me realise what was stopping me. Fear, of course is a pretty common reason for not changing things up, for not trying something new, but was I was afraid of, wasn’t what I thought. I wasn’t scared of finishing a novel and having it never be published. I wasn’t frightened of going into business for myself. What was stopping me, ironically, was the fear of waking up in five years time, and realising that I had never tried…
And once I’d worked that out, making a start was actually pretty straightforward. All I had to do was try.
Passion image courtesy of deeplifequotes on Flickr.
Knitting image courtesy of underthesun on Flickr.
Carambar image courtesy of Sylvain Naudin on Flickr.
List image courtesy of Flood on Flickr.
Cookbook image ocurtesy of abakedcreation on Flickr.
Try image courtesy of purplejavatroll on Flickr.