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How Do I Marry the Divergent Parts of My Personality into a Career I Love?

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Pamela asks:

While I’ve been successful professionally, it’s time to figure out what will fill in this missing gap that I constantly feel gnawing at my soul. I will always be an uber-nerd, but when in doubt, I would rather be outside, unless I’m cooking. Instead, I end up chained to my work computer billing too many hours solving everyone else’s problems…

How do I marry the divergent parts of my personality into a fulfilling career?

Dear Sister,

What a beautiful inquiry. I know so many other wise readers will relate! As I know you’re an attorney, I have no doubt that you have acquired a degree of financial and social status through your career, which is what many women who are starting out crave. You have all that, but now the other part is missing (pay attention, ladies). There’s a “gap” you “feel gnawing” at your soul.

In one of my favorite books Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about this time as a very powerful point in a woman’s life, when the fire has been snuffed out. It’s exactly the kind of darkness that spins a woman off on her journey toward retrieving the instinctual self.

You’re obviously an intelligent woman and probably a lifelong learner with a quest for knowledge. A woman of reading and writing, the language of attorneys. Society and culture has bolstered these gifts inside you. Society and culture has applauded your linguistic, analytical, and lawyerly aptitude. Coupled with financial and social status, it’s hard to see why any woman would turn away.

But you want to be outside and you feel chained to your computer. You crave more freedom and choice in your work. On the one hand: learner, nerdiness, analytical. On the other hand: free-spirited, creative, nature-lover. In one of my other wisdom articles, I talked about “waiting for something more,” and the gist is this: On the one hand, there is money and on the other hand, there is the soul’s calling. Here we are setting up a dichotomy (e.g., opposites, such as black and white).

You can disrupt the dichotomy in three main ways. You make your current work more soulful, you make your soul’s work a money-maker, and you keep the dichotomy but balance the opposites, such as money during the day and soul during the evening/weekends.

Most of us don’t make a sincere effort in experimenting with these three pathways, which requires us to learn about what we want and who we are. Through some trial and error, I learned that options one and three were not possible for me, so here I am doing option two, and it ain’t easy, so I definitely don’t want to romanticize it.

In fact, not one of these paths is better than the other. It’s more a question of where you are in your life, and choosing a path out of wisdom and clarity instead of fear.

For those reading and relating, please comment below: Which of the three pathways feels most attractive? Which feels most scary? What is one tiny step you could take to experiment whether a certain pathway is possible?

xo, Maria

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