Inexplicable Longings

When I finally got serious about getting out of law, I worked with a career counselor and therapist who specialized in lawyers. As a matter of fact, he was a Yale Law graduate, had worked on not one but two journals there, and held some fairly impressive law and politics jobs before getting his counseling degree and opening his coaching and therapy practice.

I mention all this because I’m pretty sure those two careers are not what most people think of when they think of alternative careers for lawyers. You certainly don’t need a law degree to do either. Yet there is no doubt my Yale friend is much better at his job because he has a law degree and experience in the law.

The message here (just in case some beating over the head is required) is that you need to really open up your mind and tell your biases to pack a lunch. I know that’s so much easier said than done. When I was in Mr. Yale’s office, I tried so many times to articulate the things I would like to do, if reality were no problem. I knew I liked visual things — pretty colors, interesting images, cool fonts — but I had zero idea how those could translate into a job for someone with no demonstrated artistic ability. And at the time, I did not even say out loud that I wanted visuals to be part of my career path.

Fast-forward five years from then, and I found out I adored editing magazines. For me, magazines combined a love of words and a love of visuals, with a dash of analysis thrown in (What message does this artwork send? Can we create a sidebar on something in this article to break up the page and make it more interesting? What kind of article would our readers really love to read that we aren’t giving them?)

So listen to those crazy voices in your head that say, I’m really interested in singing. Or machinery. Or animals. Or the great outdoors. You may not be able to leap right into a job with that element, but you can certainly find one eventually if you know to look in the first place. Don’t try to explain what you want and long for, just pay attention, write it down, and one day, it will make sense.

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