We all know those people who walk around saying, “Someday, I’m going to ______” and then they have the audacity to go out and actually do it. I have lots of flippant comments about why goal setting is a bit of an issue for me, not the least of which is having worked for The Man for 20-ish years.
[Editor’s note: She is not indicating that Private Ryan is not The Man. He’s more THE Man.]
If you’ve never worked for The Man, then chances are a bit smaller that you have never been required to write out your “career goals” year in and year out. Do not mistake this exercise as a Dream Big opportunity. These are your Career Under The Man’s Thumb goals — no deviation into, “Well, currently I’m a medical transcriptionist but someday, I want to go to clown school!” And in this requirement, they are missing some serious joy.
What, exactly, can your career goals be in a place where your role is solidified to be exactly what it is?
If you could get ahold of all of my yearly evaluations, you would see that every goal begins with “Continue to…” because I’m not redesigning my position. (You would also see that at certain positions in certain years I had certain bosses who had me write my own employee reviews. This is how I ended up with the last thing on the last The Man evaluation I hope to ever fill out says, “I super like working here.” That’s how disinterested I’d become and definitely a solid sign it was time to leave.)
The point is that I hereby honor the goal setters, the ones with cemented plans, the ones for whom achieving always remains a thrill. I honor the people with resumes that make some semblance of sense. “Here is my career arc and it is a beautifully symmetrical half circle.”
Because mine looks like an outline of the Rocky Mountains.
The reason for this comes back to the “Jack of all trades, master of none” label. Typically, this gets said by The Masters with a patronizing tone, a dismissal of sorts. It creates a fascinating superiority/inferiority situation every time for me.
Am I consistently aware of my scatterbrained approach to life? I am… at least until my attention shifts to whatever latest thing seems interesting. Does it make me feel bad that I’m not a master of something? It does insofar as I feel like people who master a specific thing can create grander outcomes.
The thing is that, for awhile, I think I sort of had the corner as a Master of a very particular subject area in a very particular field (in a very particular geographic region). There is no quantifiable evidence of this. It’s not like I published articles about my temporary time as the “foremost LGBTQ-focused psychotherapist in the tri-state area.”
I’ve thought about it a lot over the last couple of weeks now that I’ve had some space and time away from that period of my life (2004-2013, let’s say). I don’t have a lot of experience with imposter syndrome as it is defined by whoever defines these things – unless a version of imposter syndrome includes consistently stopping right before I would ever reach the level required to be held in that high of esteem. Because that’s what I suffer from.
While I am more a Jack than a Master, I did have a time in my life where I was both for awhile and it is exhausting to consider ever being that again. But I also wonder if I am, perhaps, an Imposter of being neither.