Don’t Stay in Your Lane

Prompted by a short video by one of my favourite actors, Idris Elba, that I watched on Instagram.

I have experienced the very same thing, job-wise, but in my private life, too.

I studied engineering and got my diploma, when I found out, that I could not find an interesting job, because in the early 90s we had way too much engineers in Germany. I also noticed that imagining working for the rest of my job life as engineer scared me, felt like it would bore me slowly to death.

I know many happy engineers, but during my studies I had pursued a variety of interest: sports, university politics, languages, writing. I felt like my true self was the artist, my parents had suppressed, because they feared I’d be a “starving artist”. So I had different jobs, in a book store, in Tech Support, as IT coach, in telemarketing, as financial consultant – and every time I applied I was asked why I’m not working as engineer. Every time I was asked if I’d stay longer than 5 years. Even 18 months ago, with the job market over here changing rapidly, I was asked if I’d stay 5 years or longer. When I did not commit to that – because I tried to be honest – they told me “no” – and that was kind of a tipping point.

See, that’s something I don’t get: I am highly flexible and able to learn very fast – because I love doing different things, trying new stuff, jobs or hobbies, whatever makes me feel alive. Staying in a lane for 5 years or longer may sound safe, but it’s not what I long for, it’s not how I want to live.

So, don’t get me wrong, I know many people who crave the job security and love to stay – and that’s okay for them. What I don’t get is why I have to explain a decision I made in 1995 over and over again. And I remember one or two HR people criticizing me in front of a group for my CV.

That was the point when I decided, I do no longer care and do my own thing. Do what I love and try what I’d love to experience, be it in a job or somewhere else.

We have one life, and it’s shorter than we think. I am going for the things I’d love to try, like singing, writing my book, coaching, learning Spanish, trying to design and many more.

I agree with Idris: it’s our birthright and we have to claim it. If someone is constantly criticizing you for the way you live – stay away from them. Don’t defend or explain yourself. It’s a complete waste of energy.

Go for the things you love and live your life to the fullest. Get out of your lane as often as you want!

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