Archive for February, 2010

dealing with a past

February 23, 2010

as i speak to friends and strangers who are either applying for jobs or schools i realize that many of us have to deal with accounting for the past.  and that can be intimidating and daunting. so many people are filling in the spaces of their experience for job interviews and application essays.  how do you account for your past? how do you make it appear linear since that continues to the be the preferred path of experience for people hiring or accepting us into various institutions and companies.  what saddens me is the fact that many, if not most, people have non-linear experiences in education, work, and life in general.

there is absolutely nothing wrong with a non-linear path, but accounting for it is the chore.  in a perfect world you wouldn’t have to account for your wanderings, disconnected experiences and adventures, and the “real life” motions that you have gone through along the way.  many healers that i ran into in boulder, colorado would present a much more soothing image of what others consider a predicament.  they would see it as your path’s natural progression, your destined journey, a necessary non-linearity that was “meant to be” for whatever reason so that it could teach you the life lessons you are “supposed to” learn along the way.  or perhaps we can say “were intended to learn” along the way.

inevitably, those that have followed a non-linear progression have myriad fascinating stories of places, people, successes, and failures. they are quite engaging and whenever i’ve run into them, whether they were teachers or someone working in an office, they had more to offer (a broader experience) to the job than quite a few people who had just moved “logically” from step A to step B. 

it is truly too bad that there is not more respect and encouragement for varied life experience.  a non-linear path is certainly not an easy one to live or follow.  it happens and failures can drag you down, but it also toughens your skin, weathers you (in a good way) with experience and wisdom. yet many are still compelled, for practical and even urgent reasons, to account for non-linearity in a linear fashion to “make it all make sense” and give such an experience “clout.” 

“are you reliable? will you stay the course?” are the questions that we are attempting to respond to when we account for our past in such a way. and the answer should be simple: “but of course i am. especially because i have gone through so many different experiences over time. especially because i followed what had to be and had to take place despite its non-linear progression. and i’m proud of that wisdom and energy.  i’m even proud of the failures.”

(and then there’s the tougher question: “who from your past will support you as you attempt to progress… what has your relationship been through all of this?”)