Most of us have probably been down that career road…the one we started happily driving along, only to desperately realize at the last possible minute that it wasn’t the right road for us. Our directions had somehow been horribly wrong. In fact, many of us have felt lost and alone, not sure how we went wrong and got ourselves so darn lost. I know I’ve felt this way before in my career and now that I have a job in Career Services, I see more and more people in the wrong career field, not sure how to make a change or whether they even deserve a change.
This was my reality for a long time…hating my 9-5, struggling with anxiety that held me back from the things I really wanted and desperate to find change. I’ve finally found a new position, after years of struggling with interviews and applications and now I’m ready for that next step, trying to find my ultimate passion.
I’m taking a graduate course about discovering work as a personal journey and this book was one of several books I had to choose between. This one spoke to me right from the title and the book description cemented my decision.
With poetry-esque prose Tama Kieves teaches her readers about taking that one career leap into the unknown to find what you’re meant to do. Not only does Kieves walk us through her own journey from a Harvard educated lawyer with a prestigious law firm to the writer, and follow-your-passion guru she is today, she also offers advice and support on the pitfalls of being an “artist” of any kind.
Tama’s writing is beautiful and lyrical, offering both artistically beautiful sentences to ponder and wisdom for advancing down the path toward our own creativity. While on our journey we will certainly encounter obstacles from people who don’t support our new path to our own self-destructive, distracted selves who have bought into the world’s take on what it means to be successful. Hint: The world thinks it’s money or prestige! But it’s really it’s happiness and love, and listening to who you really are.
Tama breaks down these walls, offering us an honest view into her own process of transforming her career from one that dragged her down in despair to one that lifts her up and offers her satisfaction each and every day, including her huge leap into the unknown, filled with both trepidation and yet, certainty that she was doing the right thing. She shares her story with humor, offering important lesson along the way.
So many of these lessons resonated with me! I consider myself an artist who has not been practicing my art nearly enough in the last year or so and while my career is finally more in line with my passion, I’m still not quite there yet. I understand Tama’s feeling of being in the wrong career, the depression of knowing you’re not in the right place and the fight it takes to make that change.
In particular so many of Tama’s lessons resonated with me as a fellow writer. The struggles we writer’s face are numerous, from getting ourselves to sit down and write to feeling unsure about the marketability of our work. Tama’s been through it all and she shares her journey with us, touching on frustration, procrastination, following fear instead of love, the struggle to take time for ourselves and our dreams, our desire for material possessions as a means to distract ourselves from our unhappiness with our lives or careers and more.
In one poignant scene that really touched me, Tama describes walking into a book store, only to see a book on the shelf that is very like the book she has been working on for years. This book is glossy and filled with praise from celebrities and Tama, of course, feels that sudden sinking feeling that she may be on the wrong path or that she should stop writing her book. I know so many of us writers have felt that sinking feeling before! But despite her fear, she pushes on and puts her book out into the world anyway.
She describes her decision to push on this way,
“But I had looked behind me at a star-strewn path and I just had to believe that the same road up ahead would lead to gleaming outcomes as well. Love does not call us to dance, only to deny us chances…Trust and move on. You have never known the way. You will never know the way, but the way knows the way. Remember, love would not have carried you this far to let you down.”
I was intrigued because I also just read Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck and I wonder if this is the book that Tama happened to see that day. While Finding Your Own North Star is a wonderful book and offered very concrete steps about finding your passion, Tama’s book fills its own niche by offering some of the same advice and additional advice and wisdom in a very different format. Her book is poetry for the soul, for finding your passion and an emotional reveal into the life of someone who is unsure exactly what she wants to do, even though she knows she wants to write. I found an emotional connection to this book, as if Tama were opening herself up to the reader with honesty and heart. As a fellow writer I have encountered so many of the same obstacles and each sentence resonated with me.
Here’s a few fantastic quotes from This Time I Dance! (very hard to pick just a few!)
“And often I cringed to think of myself as a “temperamental artist,” reckless, adamant, dream-headed, and out of touch. Truth is, I craved commercial recognition. But I’d found that all my sentences had the sex appeal of cardboard when I tried to dress them for success…You can’t dive into the deep-down, belly place of pure creativity while peeking over your shoulder to monitor the preferences of strangers.”
“I have come back to my writing with teeth-clenched and eight-hundred-pound feet. Yet all of a sudden it’s as though a lion crouches down at the computer and types in fierce and clear roars.”
“But criticism only sparks a fire when we provide the wood.”
“I’d been there before, in the place where ideals just crush you instead of inspire you. It’s like you stop looking at the North Star as a guide and you start looking at it as a benchmark of your own light instead. Comparing your business potential or art to those who have already established themselves is cruel and pointless. Nobody starts out as a gold medalist. Nobody begins at the Grammys.”
“Do it. Find a way to take a time out…Then inclinations start to tap you on the shoulder. Then dreams. Then means. Just clear the space. Consciously let go of what tires you, and what inspires you will take its place.”
“How could I ever feel peaceful again, not devoting my precious resources to the purpose and promise of my life? How could I ever see my time-robbing, monopolizing, and lobotomizing job as “safe” just because it paid well? …Only by living your dreams can you dispel your ghost. Your gnawing is your knowing…No salary ever pays enough for us to leave our truth behind.”
I highly recommend this book to artists, writers, career and passion seekers of any kind! Tama’s words will inspire you to sit down and write or draw or dance or do whatever makes you happy and alive. Through her story and the many lessons she shares, she’ll give you the strength to seek your true self and the work you love. After all, she inspired me to sit down and write a blog post, for the first time in months, and here I am. While this post may not be in true Angst fashion of the past, it’s where I am right now, in a thoughtful introspective place, and that’s important too! This Time I Write!