There's this kind of assumption that comes with being a professional, that our careers are more than jobs.
It's the first thing we say 'Hi, I'm [NAME] and I'm a [JOB TITLE]', like our job titles or industries somehow describe us.
I spent so long working my ass off to qualify as a lawyer and when it happened... there was no particular fanfare or sudden feeling of smug satisfaction. I walked out of the office a paralegal, I walked back in a solicitor. Nothing changed. Not even my salary (ahem!).
Have you had it yet?
That creeping feeling of 'is this it?'.
Maybe some of your colleagues have already cracked jokes about getting pregnant or running off to some foreign island where is costs almost nothing to live. How they might give it all up and go work at the supermarket because the stress isn't worth it.
As I came up to qualification there was this slow realisation that maybe being a lawyer wasn't the be all and end all of my life and that, maybe, there should be something more.
That's how I ended up buying a small jewellery making kit one Saturday afternoon.
I was on call, which meant sitting at home next to a mobile phone (damn you Nokia ring tone you still give me nightmares) and a laptop, ready to log in at a phone call and give legal advice.
24 hours on call.
Fabulous way to top up my income to where it should have been.
Quick way to discover that I wasn't actually agoraphobic and get ansty when I couldn't leave the house.
I would get bored just sitting and reading or watching tv, couldn't cook or bake because; phone, and I despise cleaning.
So I decided to give this whole 'hobby' thing a try. After all, my CV had read 'extra curricular: I like reading, going to the theatre and cinema and travel' for far too long and it was far too much BS.
Picked up some charms and earring wires and a pair of pliers from ebay.
7 years later I still make jewellery, and many of you have picked up a pair of cufflinks or earrings from me.
I LOVED what I did, adored it. I would drive my partner crazy showing him my latest designs, would talk my best friend's ear off about new resin effects... but I was deeply, deeply ashamed.
I would laugh off what I was doing as somehow 'less than' my work as a lawyer, even though it gave me so much satisfaction to be able to create something.
It became my dirty little secret. I would show people and then immediately put myself down.
Like I was signalling 'don't think less of me because I like to play with girly stuff! I'm a big tough litigator and glitter resin doesn't affect that, honest!'.
I was terrified I would be struck off the roll or disqualified from practice or seen as a flake or a phony if anyone found out I loved something more than the law.
[This says SO much more about my anxiety around my work and imposter syndrome than it did about my clients or the ability to be a multipassionate professional]
The cognitive dissonance was strong with this one so, when a local lifestyle magazine asked to feature my jewellery in their November issue, I was flattered.
I hadn't taken into consideration that print copies of the magazine were distributed in the most affluent and well to do areas of the city.
You know... where the barristers tended to live...
So, when I turned up to a training event at Chambers and one of the barristers I instructed the most turned to me and, in a wide smile and a voice that seemed impossibly loud' asked
'Leah.... are you Leah Steele of RogueJewels Steampunk Jewellery Designs?'
I died on the spot.
No, of course I didn't.
I went bright red and confessed that yes, I was the woman with the resin and the cogs and the copper leaf.. and shit how did you know?
Sweating profusely, embarrassed beyond measure.
My god it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
My biggest fear came to life.
And I survived.
Here's the thing.
Your career doesn't define you.
It will very rarely sustain you alone.
You are free, and should be, a well rounded person who has disparate and dynamic interests.
Accountant who spends 4 nights a week en pointe at ballet practice? She loves it.
Lawyer who loves to raise chickens and is training as a yoga teacher - I know one and she's bloody fabulous.
You may not realise, but you are SURROUNDED by multipassionate, multi-interested and multi-faceted people.
Their passions don't diminish or degrade their work.
They enhance it!
Their passions give them energy, drive, focus, the ability to build resilience.
So if you're holding back on experimenting, trying something new or giving in to the thing you're truly passionate about, I've got to ask - what are you afraid of?
PS Introducing... Passion Project! In this 12 day home study course I am going to be sharing with you my journey to becoming a multi-passionate woman, I will be sharing the common blocks and beliefs that cause us to undermine ourselves, compartmentalise our lives or even suppress what we truly adore, and help you blast through them!
Whether your passion is your career, an art, a science, a hobby or something that you haven't yet discovered yet, creating clarity, time and space around passions is going to give you the shot of energy you are DESPERATE for, the inspiration you CRAVE and build resilience, mental flexibility - and it may just revolutionise your career too!
Right now you can join for a ridiculously low price, fast action takers only, and once those places fill, well, you know the drill.
Click the link in the comments below to find out more and create your own Passion Project.