Sunday, 27 February 2011

On Vocation

I feel like I'm on a train, I don't know where it's going and I don't really remember getting on. And I'm not really sure whether I want to get off or not.

As 'Flubberbean' (or a poorly disguised N) pointed out in the comments to my last post, the all-singing, all-dancing return to the Blogosphere I had planned has failed quite spectacularly.

The thing is, to bring an oft-repeated and increasingly tired excuse out of the bag, work has been taking over my life, again. I think I understand what stress is now. Not stress as in a medically diagnosed condition, work-type stress, you know. The kind that finds you while you're sitting on the train on your way to the office and fills you with dread. That wakes you up in the early hours of the morning with a chilling reminder of all the things you simply must do first thing and absolutely mustn't forget. The kind of stress that's not content to just wake you up, but also leaves you lying in the dark composing emails and studying reports in your head.

My job has started to take a previously unheard of toll on my real life. I suppose it's par for the course as you get older. And I accept that this is something I need to learn to handle, if I'm to climb the career ladder.

The thing is, while I'm grateful that increased responsibility is being thrust into my questionably capable hands, I find myself wondering whether I'm on the right ladder. Is this definitely what I want to do? Is this really for me? Or did I just fall into it?

Many of these questions stem from panic I think - when you take new things on there's a period of transition where everything feels up in the air. But it's also sparked some serious soul-searching.

At work I'm surrounded by creative types. Designers born with an urge to draw, editors with an innate love of words. Looking at them, I can't help but feel jealous. Then there's N, or Flubberbean as he's taken to calling himself, who was born with a mind that works like a computer. I'm sure he sees the world as a sequence of 1s and 0s, of if statements and hidden code.

Could it be that everyone is born with a set of talents perfect for a certain role? Perhaps everyone has something they're good at that, if nurtured in the correct way, will make them perfectly suited to a particular function. But how do you find out what your talent is? How do you know what you're naturally good at unless circumstance lets you find it?

One of my biggest selling points, that I plaster over CVs and cover letters, is that I speak French and Italian. But this isn't something I was born with: I liked it at school, so studied it at university, so feel duty bound to use it professionally so as to justify the horrible amount of money spent on developing it. Circumstance, coupled with choices I made when I was too young to understand the consequences has led me to where I am today, and I find that frightening.

If there were a magic test that could dig out one's hidden skills, where would I be instead? I wish I knew whether I am taking the right road. Then again, I very much doubt that I was born with any useful talents, and chatting, slouching and simming won't get me far at all. Damn shame that, I'd be King of the World if they were sought after skills.


  1. Tom - I don't know what I'm good at. I can make coffee...I feel like that's all I've got somedays. Clearly Flubberbean doesn't know to check The TASG on Wednesdays.

  2. Shut up. You clearly were born with the talent of writing. That's something which, despite the explosion of blogs everywhere with folks claiming they're writers, is something to be proud of.


  3. You speak French and Italian? I am impressed! I think your skill is right in front of you. As Tabs above me said, you clearly have a talent for writing.

  4. I agree with Tabs. What are you talking about, Tom?? No, I'm not yelling, I'm just asking. You are talented. Hell, you're even one of the people who can make me laugh with your comments. I mean, making someone laugh from your keyboard to the Philippines? That's a major talent!

    As for me, I have a talent of sleeping. I'm sooooo good at that.


  5. Indeed, you most certainly have a talent for writing; yours is one of the few blogs I actually follow. But I definitely agree, the world prioritises the wrong skills. If people sought out those who could procrastinate eternally, or perpetually watch TV shows, why, I'd probably have a job. And maybe even a friend. (Jack Bauer doesn't count, he never replies to my texts)

  6. My talents, like those of the above commenter, lend themselves only to professional ass-sitting, I think. Sounds like you have a little more potential than me!

  7. Understandable. Work is Hell. And I'm in it. What's a social life, anyway?

  8. Just found your blog on 20sb, I like :)

  9. So, I think that someone should plaster this blog post on a billboard (although it would be very difficult to read). You definitely describe an issue that many people go through. I think the fact that you're at least aware of the fact that you may or may not be taking the right road is a good thing :)