I’ve got a manufactured dilemma – one I’d love to put behind me. Turns out, I’m not that special – others face the same dilemma. This is the same kind of not special that everyone on social media who complains about being mistreated or misunderstood by some unnamed person, is not special.
Meaning: Not only is everyone mistreated by someone – or believes they are mistreated – but everyone is the mistreater at some point. Or, at least perceived that way.
But that is a digression into another topic.
I am often bound by lines I draw myself – lines I would rather not draw. I’ve tried simply ignoring them but this strategy rarely seems to work. And even though many friends and peers tell me the lines are not there, I can’t help but see them.
Question: If no one else can see the lines but I do, did I draw them or imagine them?
Let me explain this confusing preamble.
My Walled Cities
I am a songwriter & performer. And I’m pretty damned good at it. My stage presence is both natural and effective. I can string together some decent lyrics and arrange chords and melody. Cool! I’m comfortable with that.
I’m a software developer/technologists. And I’m pretty damned good at it. I’ve built solutions for LARGE corporations, small businesses, etc. I’m often the hero – it is a role I like and fully appreciate.
I’m a writer/author. And I’m pretty damned good at it. A couple books with a major publisher – some incomplete book contracts too. Articles for major publications (including The Wall Street Journal). Essays, poems, marketing copy, etc. Paid – so that says something.
I’m a public speaker. And I’m pretty damned good at it. Keynotes for major corporations, business groups, schools, etc. I spin a good yarn and relate it to the topic. Get lots of laughs and lots of “aha’s”. Paid and I get invited back.
I realize that I’m the one saying, “I’m pretty damned good at it.” But, this is what I hear, though I know it too. These are items that fall into my wheelhouse.
Do not worry, there are plenty of things that, “I’m pretty damned bad at,” too! I wrote about some of those here.
Those damned lines
My challenge is that I often do not understand how to cross, straddle, or erase the lines between what I do.
Does it make sense to those who know me as an author, that I am a songwriter? Do my technology clients and peers get confused when I talk about an upcoming show (music)?
The truth is, in many cases, I don’t know. I usually avoid the conversation or cross-pollination of what I perceive as demarcations of professional and creative pursuits.
This is my analytical self, the data analysts creating a taxonomy of talents & skills, clearly defined buckets that keep me in emotional lanes of travel. If I am on one lane, I cannot easily cross over to a different lane.
It means not just changing lanes but changing vehicles. At least, that is how I view it internally.
Mind you, I don’t see this with others who have similar seemingly disparate interest, talents, and pursuits. They are perfectly fine moving between categories and roles. Their audiences, clients, readers, go with them.
I either do not trust mine to do so or I don’t trust myself to pull it off – the grand switcharoo! I can’t seem to jump into my phone booth and emerge with my super-hero cape.
Shhh… I know I don’t have to… but that’s the point of what I’m writing.
A recent example
A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend away with a technology company I am doing some work for. Great time in Temecula, wine-tasting, getting to know peers, etc, attending some workshops, etc. When it was discovered that I wrote and performed music, the woman organizing the event asked me to bring my guitar down and perform after dinner one evening.
I coyly demurred. And those who know me know that coyly demurring is NOT near the top of my list of things I do well.
But, I was in my technology/software bucket. Everyone around knows me and is part of the same bucket. We’re talking important business stuff about data and projects and clients. Songwriting and performing doesn’t fit here. Does it?
And I wanted to perform. Oh God! I wanted to perform! Because, well, I like it! I’m as alive and energized on stage as I am anywhere. Another consultant at the event performed a short magic show. People enjoyed it and it gave a depth to the evening.
I declined and said, “Maybe another time.”
I suspect that had I performed, a number of those attending would have enjoyed it and seen nothing odd about the fact that I have talent and skill in more than one area.
I’m not seeking answers here – just acknowledging and voicing some thoughts.
I do want to work on erasing the imaginary lines – my emotionally/mentally taxing taxonomy.