5 Reasons Why Having a Nonlinear Career Should be Normalized
Updated: Mar 5
If you are anything like me the graphic above is a clear representation of your career; an unexpected, colorful nonlinear journey. It's taken me my whole adult life to actually accept that my career path is one of many twists and turns. I am a creative, and like many creatives finding innovative ways to subsidize ones endeavours is basically a pre-requisite.
The nonlinear career path is both a choice and a calling, and one I often find hard to articulate particularly when someone asks me about that old chestnut, "what do you do for a living?" Frankly, I never know what to say. I mean, I could answer with "I'm an Actor, Singer, Songwriter, Content Writer, Producer, Social Media Manager, Marketing Manager and Owner of an Online Store". However, I fear my answer is not a "normal" answer and risks falling on deaf ears. Instead, I generally reply with whatever my main focus is at the time - I don't like doing this because it can feel like I am selling myself short but it's certainly a resolution to a potentially long-winded explanation.
This leaves me constantly wondering; why cant we start normalizing nonlinear careers? Professional landscapes are changing rapidly so why can't individual careers be given the same licence? Don't get me wrong, I am sure many of my own insecurities come into play when expressing what it is I actually do. However, pursuing alternative careers while moonlighting in another profession to make ends meet or pursue a dream is still a valid career path.
It's time for society to normalize nonlinear career paths and here are 5 reasons why.
It's Too Expensive to Live. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the cost of living is astronomical. It seems that no matter where you live, too many people, too often are chasing their tails when it comes to paying their bills. For this reason, many people actually need to create alternative ways to make ends meet that won't interfere with their 9-5 job. The silver lining is that there is something refreshing about someone turning their hobby into a profitable enterprise. I mean, as the Dolly Parton song goes, "Yeah, 5 to 9 you've got passion and a vision."
The World is More Accessible. Technology has opened up a world of monetary opportunities that can be accessed from our very own home. We no longer have to open up bonafide shops that drain us with high rents. We can sell our very own treasures to people we will never meet in person and market it accordingly all thanks to the World Wide Web - now that's a way to make a living!
People Change. You know the saying that people never change? Then why are people always changing? I am not the same person I was 10 years ago and certainly not the same person I was in college and I highly doubt you are too. Life is about change so it's only natural that the trajectory of our careers will change too. I rest my case.
We Want to Pursue New Interests and Talents. When I was in drama school I had zero interest in producing, social media was yet to grace the stage and I had absolutely no interest in writing of any kind. Fast forward many years later and a sizeable portion of my income has come from projects I never knew I had a talent for within industries that didn't even exist way back when. That's life. That's what makes it interesting.
People Can do More Than One Thing at a Time. To know a woman is to know a multi-tasker so when I hear people say don't be a "Jack of all trades, master of none," I literally have to stop myself from eye rolling but then go and eye roll anyway. Who makes these rules? Where does it say I can't write a hit song, produce a successful play, sing my heart out in a studio, and help companies build their brand awareness online while learning lines for a film I am about to act in?
Sorry but not sorry. It's my career, it's proudly nonlinear and I hope yours is too (if that's what makes you happy).