Let it never be said that I am not open to other points of view. Ok...I'll admit I'm pretty stubborn and I don't take contradictory advice very well all the time, but part of this soul-searching mission is about expanding myself and being open to new ideas. So here goes...
While I was out roaming the blogosphere, I came across this post by Penelope Trunk. In her blog post, Penelope states loud and clear, "Forget the soul search; just do something." I felt a little stung by the directness of this post, as if Ms. Trunk was aiming it specifically at me.
But I didn't get scared and run away, I read the post and kept my mind open to what she had to say on the matter. She had some excellent points and some good advice.
One thing that I found particularly important was the idea that soul-searching takes too long. Discovering ones' self is a life-long and ever-changing process, so waiting for the end result of that search before pursuing a career is pointless. You'd die before you ever attempted to do something with your life. I have to say, she's got a point there.
So how do I balance this advice with my own mission? Compromise. It is important to know that I will never have a definitive answer to the question, "Who are you?" (see my earlier post here), but that doesn't mean I should stop asking the question. Tuning into yourself every once in a while is important. It is easy to lose sight of what you want in this world when you allow yourself to get swept up in action all the time. That being said, thought without action is equally unsuccessful.
Penelope Trunk's blog post urges readers to get out there and just try a few things. A "bad" career decision is still a useful tool in self-discovery. By having experiences we don't enjoy, we learn more about our likes and dislikes. These experiences, then, inevitably lead us towards more successful experiences in the future (so long as we take care to actually learn from our mistakes, and don't simply repeat them).
Another point that Trunk addresses that I found encouraging was the statement that each person has many selfs. At any given time, there are multiple things that motivate us, and multiple careers that could bring fulfillment. She sights the statistic that most people nowadays change careers every eighteen months. As your tastes change, or a different motivation rises to the surface, go with it.
One last gem that I want to share is this. Trunk says that you need to get your toes wet. Try careers out, take the leap, and if you don't like the result, "reframe your landing pad as just a stepping stone." When I left music school, I felt like my life was over. I had failed, my passion was dead, going on was futile. But if I allow myself to reframe that experience as just another stepping stone in my life, then I can take away the valuable lessons I learned (like how I didn't want the insecurity of a musicians life - see here for more on that).
Even though her argument is directly at odds with my philosophy, Trunk's arguments for action seem not to contradict, but to compliment my continued search. (Am I still being stubborn?)