If we turn around and look back on our life, we will inevitably find a mess of different paths. We’ll see dead ends, places where we’ve doubled back, some roads will be overgrown with weeds, others will face the wrong way but, ultimately, every one of those paths led us to where we stand at that moment. Along each of those paths there will be intersections, points along our journey where we made a choice to do one thing or another. Sometimes we have to go through intersections multiple times to find out the best direction. All these paths and intersections make up the beautiful, unpredictable mess, that is the journey of our life.
When I look back I see several different clusters of paths, many of them far away from where I’ve ended up. But, for the most part they all lead in the same general direction. My first degree at university was a Bachelor of Engineering. Though, rather than what one might consider ‘usual’ options such as structural, mechanical, or chemical engineering, my major was Product Development. Thus we were taught a holistic view of the entire development process of many things from marketing projects like logo design an aesthetics of packaging, all the way through to programming robots, and the design of environmentally conscious housing. My current role using little specific knowledge I learned from the degree, but my understanding of the design process has been relevant in every job I’ve had since.
The second qualification I achieved was a one year Certificate in Business Communication. Pretty self explanatory. But, the communication skills apply to a much wider range of interactions than business to customers.
My third qualification was a Bachelor of Teaching conjoint with a Bachelor of Arts. The communication skills and work ethic learned from my previous study helped me dive in and take in as much as I could. I found I really enjoy being in a classroom where I see myself as teacher and student just like everyone else! Understanding different ways of passing on information has helped me in many different jobs, when coaching ultimate, playing D&D, and even making decisions about what to have for dinner.
I currently work in the fundraising department at the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, in an accounting role. This is a fair distance from jobs my fields of study would traditionally lead to, but there are crossovers. The donations I process go towards informing New Zealands of the risk of Stroke and ways to reduce the likelihood of having one, as well as to staff out in communities supporting survivors and their families. Every day I communicate with colleagues in my team and the wider organisation, and talk on the phone with supporters who have queries to be solved. Everything I’ve learned has a place, if not specific to my current role, in the process of learning and communicating.
Each change of direction took courage to make and a willingness to follow it through. If I looked only at my student loan from studying more than one qualification it could seem dire, but I’ve learned a lot. Resilience, communication skills, awareness of my own and others wellbeing, unflappability. Every one of this skills will help me as I get closer to publishing books and releasing music into the wild.
Sometimes the path I was on was difficult to veer away from, even if I knew it was in the wrong direction. Familiarity is comfortable, easy. It is not an environment for growth. For me, prayer and conversation with God helped me understand when I needed change, and how to go about making it. I’m still a work in progress and always will be.
The key difference between now and when I was in the midst of study? I’m excited about the future, and whatever direction I go I’m going full steam ahead.
Have you recently hit an intersection in your life? Unsure which direction is the best one?
Keep your heart and mind open and you’ll figure it out.