Wear all your hats.
One of my previous jobs was located on the construction site for large commercial buildings. During the summer of 1999 the job site was the world headquarters building of a bank, a project with a 75 million dollar budget. The place was huge. Our foreman, a fun guy with a serious work ethic received the news that some tradespeople were having trouble working through differences. He placed the hardhat on his head and said, “Not just a hardhat, also a mediators hat.” Of course, being 1999 and a rough construction site, the words were a bit less refined and probably included a cuss word, but we’ll leave the quote as is. Everyone knows the concept of wearing different hats in a job. But when does “being a hat rack” interfere with our main work?
I’ve always been a curious person and as such, I’ve worn a LOT of hats. I don’t know if I was that kid that always asked why, but I was the kid in the library, the workshop, running around outside poking my nose into every ditch or burrow. I wanted to know all the things. I’d read everything I could. At one point I could name almost every horse breed, their typical purpose, and recognize them on sight.
Often, once my curiosity was sated I’d move on to something new. This frustrated my mom to no end. She saw it as quitting, but how could I know what life was like if I didn’t try it all out?
This sampling of life hasn’t changed much through the years. It’s led me through many different jobs and a few careers. I’ve been a horse wrangler at a boy’s camp, an oil change technician, an accounts payable clerk, a seller of candles, office clerk/coordinator for that commercial construction company, web designer, graphic designer, marketing person and writer of both non-fiction and fiction. And for hobbies, I’m a gardener, a jewelry maker, a gamer, a painter, and the person who fixes all and sundry around the house. The list is almost exhausting! I like fixing or building things. It’s one of my happy places.
If something interests me, I research it until that itch is scratched. We live in the perfect age for this. Oh, me and the Dewey Decimal System and the card catalog used to be buds, but Google’s my new BFF. The funny thing is, the more I learn, the more I can’t UNlearn.
I’m a graphic designer by trade. I went to school, even got good grades. I love graphic design and enjoy creating beautiful things that communicate ideas. However, this training makes doing something simple like updating my published articles on this website a much longer process. I need to find just the right photo, have them all look uniform, then make sure the code lets them all line up properly. I can’t stop being a designer because I now make my living writing. And I can’t not tweak the code just because I’m the end user, not the coder.
It’s a funny thing to have worn so many identities through the years. And to have gotten to an age where they compete with each other when I try to finish something. How do I tell Designer-Me to shut up and just get the info on the page? How do I tell Coder-Me that I don’t NEED to relearn PSP and the newest WordPress to get things to align properly? And for that matter, how do I tell Writer-Me that the typo in my social media post isn’t THAT big a deal?
(By the way, I’ve never claimed to be a typist. Never learned, and still look at the keyboard more than half the time.) #funfact?
There are a lot of negative words to describe someone with my breadth of experience. Quitter. Dilettante. Dabbler. That first one used to really hurt me. Quitter. But the thing is, it’s GOOD to quit things that are bad for you. Smoking, realtionships, habits. That means quitting isn’t all bad. I think it’s important to remember that trying something new is good. And wisdom tells me it isn’t bad to move on to something else if the first doesn’t fit. So instead of those other labels, I’ve chosen Curiosity Junkie. Junkie has it’s own bad connotations which might trigger some people and I’m sorry for that. But it works for me. If it really bugs you let me know. I can use just “Curious.” Or maybe suggest an alternative label. My worlds are an inclusive place. I never want people to feel like they aren’t safe here.
Now I have to go fight with my designer-self to get these articles updated. I’ve a years worth to add. What’s that saying? The cobbler’s kid always goes barefoot?
What past jobs either hinder or help your current work or hobbies? I’d love to hear about them and how you deal with it.