I believe all 3 are needed to live a sustainable and fulfilling multi-passionate life. There is something special about making a decision to be 3 dimensional, to be multi-dimensional and deliberately embrace your passions. It’s a magical moment, and for me it was a moment of no-longer feeling like a messy, non-committed person. A moment of embracing that I’m not traditional and never want to be.
See, I’m the member of the family that had a new career every Christmas for a while. I graduated with a degree in Hospitality management and jumped into a graduate scheme specialising in Event Management at a hotel chain. I met amazing people and saw work-life balance become a figment of my imagination. I was passionate, I was ambitious and had always been a hard worker but the day I had a panic attack in the 12th hour of my shift and asked my manager if I could go home and he said “no”, I knew it was over. I packed away somebodies wedding with tears in my eyes and decided it was over. That wouldn’t be the last time I cried at work.
I then realised that I needed something new, I handed my notice with no job to go to and began to take care of myself mentally and physically. I had been working since 15 and I had come to the harsh truth that just because you do the right things doesn’t mean it will work out how you want it to.
I followed my talent for organisation and customer service to an estate agent and cut forward a few years I was working as a trainee property surveyor and putting myself through a part-time masters degree. Once again it wasn’t working.
I kept finding myself in roles with high pressure, low support, low pay and zero creativity. Places where ideas are nice to say but never considered, where improvement could never come from the black female graduate from South London. Call it what you like, bullying, racism, underestimation, the toxic side of corporate culture it was part of those immediate years following university.
Again, I had found myself looking for a new job but I was determined this time it would be different!
I bounced downstairs one day and declared to my mum that I’m going to look at the environment of the workplace and the skills they wanted; no more looking at title or traditional trajectories because I wasn’t traditional. Every time I had tried to be traditional I was trying to be something other than myself and I was done with it. It only led to unhappiness.
Then I came across my first job in tech, with trust, leadership and creativity welcomed and expected of every member of the team. I could bring my passion and my skills and be taught everything else I needed. In the winter of 2016 I took my first step into tech and I never looked back.
I had sat in an interview and discussed my blog with my soon-to-be-manager and it was seen as something to support not some sort of cause for concern around my commitment to the role at hand. I took time off (which was unlimited) to develop myself and my own projects and could tell people the whole truth on a Monday when they ask about what I got up to on the weekend.
I was myself and it felt good. It was my first experience of being bold and brave and I loved it, until I got taught the lesson of balance.
Balance is defined as “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.”
and a few months in, I was upright but I sure as hell wasn’t steady. I was coming in early and staying late. And EVERYTHING felt like it needed to be done yesterday, I was burning myself out in the name of hard-work and passion. Nicely laid on top of that was a tough relationship with someone who was meant to be my mentor in the organisation left me feeling the imposter. Working so so hard and getting recognition from colleagues but somehow falling short overall.
It all came to a head one morning where I was walking out of the underground station and had a panic attack. Bearing in mind I had had these before I understood it as a signal from my body but I still pushed through (hard-headed) to get to the building and grab my laptop. I pulled the Head of People into a meeting room as I knew she had taken a mental health first aid course so I knew I wouldn’t have to describe what a panic attack was like. She listened, and told me to go home and try and switch off. I did just that. That day I zoned out to Netflix and slept properly for the first time in a long time.
A few days later I returned to work and as people came to me “I heard you were sick, hope your feeling better now?” I said “nope, wasn’t sick, had a panic attack on the way to work because I was doing too much and burnt out. But I know what I did wrong and am putting in some boundaries to make sure it doesn’t happen again”, and one person even responded saying “Oh wow, I understand I get them all the time”. In that moment I knew I had to continue be honest and that something needed to be done. I worked with the People team in the coming weeks and became a Wellness champion for my duration at the company, in the Summer of that year I did the Mental health first aid course and in that September I began my formal training as a coach… the rest is history.
You see, what has got me to this point is being brave, bold & balanced. And what will keep me going is the same, my greatest fear is to lose my balance and get to a place where I don’t have the energy or ability to be brave and bold. Because I know my zone of genius needs all 3, my dreams and the dreams of others rely on my getting better at all 3. And I know I will never need to play small or give up my passions if I continue to get better at all 3.
Multi-passionate: Bravery, boldness & balance