Career Counseling Is Changing My Life

So I’m approaching the completion of my career counseling, and it has been an amazing experience. Just like the assessments I did for a job interview about a year ago, I’ve been surprised at how accurately and insightfully the assessments have pinpointed my skills and work style. Mostly, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Let’s review, shall we:

  • I am a highly creative person, who needs to be doing work that is based in creativity. The work has to have variety, be challenging, team-oriented with the ability to direct my own tasks and be flexible.
    • Basically, confirming what I already knew. I should be a writer. But how a writer makes money working for herself, I still haven’t figured out.
  • I have been unhappy & dissatisfied with work thus far because I have been socialized (as many of us are) that a single, “traditional” career is best. That does not fit my personality style nor my talents, and I need to be able to construct work that has many different components, whether that means part-time at two jobs or project-based consulting or whatever. Staying in the same work environment and rising through the ranks doesn’t work for me.
    • This has been a big DUH finding for me. I was brought up with the expectation that you go to college, then you go to graduate or professional school and you embark upon that career. Ta-DAH! Success! But that didn’t give me the opportunity to “play” with my interests and skills and led me to de-value the tasks and kinds of work that I enjoy because they weren’t “demanding” or “high-skilled” enough. Example: my favorite job of all time was when I worked in a bagel shop. I loved everything about it, and was happy as a lark. But because of my socialization, I didn’t question the assumption that of course this is just a part-time gig and why would anyone work in a bagel shop when they have other, more “professional” options available to them? Even if you take the financial argument that realistically, one probably cannot easily work in a low-wage food-service job long-term, let’s compare it to how my bank account has done gangbusters in the nonprofit sector. Ahem.
  • My MBTI Type is INFP. As an INFP, I have to do work I believe in (for projects or casues I care about), I need to work without a great deal of supervision (micromanagement stifles my creative flow), use my creativity to address problems, work among others, have the freedom and time to work on projects with plenty of reflection and quiet time to focus in depth, in a supportive work environment, and have the opportunity to continue to grow personally and professionally.
    • Breaking it down: Unlike what you may think, the I does not mean shy and reserved. The I means that I am focused on theories, ideas, thoughts, concepts. I reqiure the time to reflect and contemplate before I act and become renewed by solo time while social interaction takes energy & drains my focus. The N means I see the forest more than the trees, that I am able to generalize and interpret from facts to larger patterns and that I value insights and analogies. The F means I am empathetic, I seek to find what is most important and prioritize values, and lean towards acceptance and sympathy. The P means that I focus on options and possibilities, I enjoy starting (but not finishing!) projects (ahem), especially because I continually take in and consider new information (to the detriment of getting projects done!).

It explains a lot. I felt like crap about my work and work performance at the history museum becaues my personality type was discounted and not valued as a “legitimate” work style. I’m unhappy at my current job at this private art gallery because I do repretitive tasks that do not tap into my creativity and do not allow me to be balance out my quiet time with social projects and collaboration.

My Strong Interest Inventory indicates that I am best in lines of work that are artistic, social, and investigative. Museums could be a good fit for a work environment for me, but I’ve come out of this recognizing and reaffirming that writing is what I’d like to be doing.  How to get from here to there? I still don’t know. But I’ll start by marketing myself via a portfolio career that highlights my many talents & skills with the intention of creating my own work, either as a consultant or a writer, or balancing part-time work with poverty writing on my own. AKA poverty. At this point, I don’t care how poor we will be, though. I think it’s more important to do what makes you happy than what makes you rich slightly less impoverished.