As I pondered and began to write the content for this particular blog, something seemed out-of-whack – maybe even a bit backwards. Feeling a somewhat disoriented, I asked myself “Shouldn’t I have posed these questions first before pondering and processing the questions that lead to my last blog – “FITTING IN…”? Hmmm…?!@^
Well, as my mysterious (read: twisted) fortune would have it, a relevant article that ignited my juices happened to appear after I wrote that earlier blog (isn’t that always the way it happens – what you really need to help you create or make decisions comes after it’s needed). So, if it’s okay with you, I’ll just shift gears – from forward into reverse – for a while and attempt to continue down this exploratory path. Hope that works for you – is not too confusing – and that you chose to continue to tag along?!
Over the years, I’ve never stopped long enough to ponder or consider whether I would classify myself as a “geek” or not…however, after reading “The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone,”I was nudged to suggest to myself to re-position my viewpoint and impose upon it a bit more reflection and thought. I’ve shared my thought process below…as it might offer or shed some helpful insights…in case you’re in a similar state of mind.
WAS MY CHILDHOOD UNUSUAL…and/or DID IT OFFER ME UNCLEAR MESSAGES…?
Growing up in a large, extended family (Mom and Dad’s combined sibling count was 22 which, of course, was compounded by at least 2-5 more each to account for mates and kids), we were continually surrounded by people and events (drop-ins “on-the-way-to” somewhere, picnics, volleyball tournies, weddings, funerals, etc.).
Hedged into this type of “community,” therefore, created a natural feeling (or was it “assumed” to be natural?) about being pigeonholed into an extrovert classification – you know someone with a gregarious, outgoing personality – a marketing/sales-ish type who thrives on being surrounded and energized by people.
Given those non-grounded, unstable “assumptive” feelings and thoughts about myself and my interactions (hmmm, right…remember those slogans encouraging us to be wary of “assumptions”), the gravitational pull, force or natural inkling dragged me towards and propelled me into a career in Marketing and Sales.
WHERE MIGHT I HAVE FOCUSED (or what thoughts might have better served me and my needs)?
Within Susan Cain’s article, her book, and her repeated references to Stephen Wozniak memoir – iWoz, I found myself settling in and aligning with certain words, phrases and descriptions. A few of those included:
- Appeared “serious and bespectacled”
- Possessed “an endearing mixture of stiffness and good cheer”
- “Listens quietly”
- Lived in one’s head “like artists”
- Viewed solitude as “an important key to creativity”
- Preferred to “work independently”
- “Obsessed with reading, writing, researching, and sewing (you can fill in the blank) since the age of three”
- Preferred control over “design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee.”
- Constantly attempting to “create privacy and autonomy”
- In work settings “always by himself” – Considered “quiet midnights and solitary sunrises = ‘the biggest high ever’”
- If with others, preferred to be “surrounded by kindred spirits or like-minded souls”
Now, after many twists and turns, I realize…had I paid a bit more attention to certain attributes or aspects of ME and my personality – and stuck with or accepted (maybe even emphasized) my “geekiness,” I might have been able to journey along a different life’s path – one that might have been a bit smoother…with a few less bumps…and enriched by a my unique “realness”). As I position Ms. Cain’s words, phrases, and descriptions shared above alongside my photos (and recall memories from those times), I definitely see (and recall) a bit of “geekiness” in me. In many early career work settings, I felt “stifled”, suppressed, and often deprived of my natural ability to truly exercise and deploy my skills. Just as with all things in nature, balance offers the key…especially when it comes to being social and allocating solitude. Balance provides the remedy or elixir to ensure the whole, functional individual surfaces – rather than being encouraged to relegate oneself to a “geek” or “non-geek” designation.
As Ms. Cain so aptly articulates…an ideal setting would be one in which “people are free to circulate in a shifting kaleidoscope of interactions…” one where flexibility exists to disappear into “private workspaces when they want to focus or simply be alone.”
So, I ask you…do you know who you are – deep down – or are you being prodded to “fit in”? Do you know how you “do your best work”? Are you willing and able to express who you are and what works best for you…in work…and in all other aspects of life?
Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock
Graphic credits: Yep, that’s me at 7 YO and, me again at 16 YO