When I graduated university I had a job I hated. I stuck it out because of the amount of debt I had from school loans. I had majored in a subject I didn’t enjoy which my NM choose for me and at the time, I didn’t stand up to her. So, I was stuck – for a while.
Somewhere along my path of independence I started to read about how important it is to love your job (for this post, definition of job here means career and not role). I had to love my job, find what you love and do it.
How unbelievably heavy that felt! The more and more I read about it, the more and more I hated my subsequent jobs. I even made a career change after sticking out the job that paid off my loans. And I wasn’t in love.
And when I discovered Narcissism and my own battle as an ACoN that task became even heavier. Love your job! (insert puke) How badly I wanted to ‘find myself’ and find what I love to do and start! I even went back to school for a completely different degree and worked in an entirely different profession. I’ve heard this is quite common for ACoNs.
And I’m still out of love. My last job which I recently left has left me in a search and panic. More search led to more panic. More panic led to depression, anxiety and lack of sleep.
And then I read something else about loving your job and I thought: could all this be a lie? Do you really need to love your job?
The research Brené Brown on whole-hearted people (emotionally healthy, authentic people) presented in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, tackled this myth.
Not all whole-hearted people love their job!
Some do and some don’t. This is not a criteria. However, none are in a soul sucking career which they loathe.
I started to see the myth unravel before me as I read it for a second, third time. How much of this fairy tale had become ingrained in my head and how much it had caused a lot of panic and fear and anxiety.
According to Brown’s research, whole-hearted people focus on meaningful work. If meaningful work also pays the bills, then great, but it is a matter of luck if the two are aligned. How you pay the bills does not have to be something you love.
And the best part is meaningful work is defined by each individual. Meaningful doesn’t mean what society defines it as. No one defines it for you.
Brown found that whole-hearted people play many roles and have a lot of slashes, kind of like in the entertainment industry: comedian/actor/director/producer. I could be a marketeer/blogger/photographer/cook/traveler/student. The whole is meaningful work for me. What are your slashes?
Photo from my desk – representing my slashes.
And after feeling the sense of relief that the career I choose does not have to be the love of my life, I started to trickle back to my Ns.
Narcissists classify. And well, slashes are messy for Ns. They don’t like it. They don’t understand it. From my earliest childhood my NM instilled in me the phrase:
“Jack of all trades, the master of none.”
I looked up this phrase and found that it exists in many languages. And how untrue this universal phrase is. To love multiple things and do lots of things means only you love a lot of things. No one said I had to master photography. Why? I don’t have a desire to be professional, my only goal is to take better travel photos, capture the beauty I see when I travel. Why do I have to master it? Why does it have be a profession?
My NM would say this all the time. I loved to play volleyball and dance when I was young. But I also loved to read books and I was good at math. She would say that to me all the time. You are a jack of all trades, the master of none. Because I didn’t choose one thing and master it? Why?
Looking at the Ns in my friendships, they struggled with this. I was labeled by one or two things and that was it. It was their way of classifying me nice and neatly. To look at me from other angles is multi-dimensional. And for my Ns that wouldn’t work.
I remember with the 2 recent Ns in my life – Marian and Lydia – they often struggled with it. I don’t know how to explain it but if I mentioned other activities in my life they often seem to feel confronted and become competitive. Or if they would hear about something I’ve been doing for a long time they would be annoyed and attack me – like I was keeping it a secret or something. Their behaviours would be so mind-boggling.
Even I looked at a lot of things one-dimensionally. Thinking what pays the bills has to be something I love was one-dimensional. Thinking that if I loved something I had to make a profession of it even though there was no desire to – like photography or cooking.
I am beginning to find more and more comfort in the slashes and try and look at my friends in that way too. We all have slashes.