I did this test today. One of those career tests that tells which facets of you personality are dominate and which fields you should focus on for life satisfaction. Unsurprisingly mine where ‘Thinking’ and ‘Creating’ as dominate traits. Pretty much on par with each other.
The banker and the inauthentic self
Prior to becoming disabled I was a banker. I was damn good at it, despite being the fact I wasn’t reliable or dependable due to the fact I had unmanaged chronic pain that was wildly out of control. Led to some issues. But I was good at my job.
Was I satisfied with it? No. I do not like sales or customer service. And while I learned to be proficient at it, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. It was something I did because I couldn’t do what I wanted to. That was because my health had declined and I couldn’t pursue my academic career so I found an alternative one I felt I could Do (I was wrong- any full-time work was sort of not good with that amount of pain but I sure as hell tried to prove I could and made it so much worse). You sort of get stuck with a disability in a workplace though. Too sick to work, too sick to find something else (not exactly someone people seek to hire) and not willing to be officially disabled.
Anyway, I got severely depressed. And major depressive disorder is not at all uncommon with chronic pain. Sort of seems inevitable. And, hell, I can add on a lot of other reasons why I am prone to depression. Being creative. Having a high IQ. Pick a statistic. Or add them all up and smoosh them together. Even migraine disease amps up the likelihood of depression. I hit a lot of stats. Yay? None of that means it was inevitable. Just in my case it happened. I would say chronic pain being the main factor there. Not creativity. That is my main coping skill.
The authentic self in my past
What occurred to me when I looked at the career test and the outcomes for me was that when I was younger at university… I was my Authentic Self. I was majoring in philosophy and this satisfied that ‘thinking’ category immensely. And I also loved to write which satisfied my creativity.
When my health declined and I fell back on doing banking as an alternate, to just do something for the sake of paying the bills, I was not my authentic self. I didn’t dress the way I dress. I chose clothes solely on what I perceived I should wear for that job- loathed them. I developed a ‘work persona’. A fake smile (necessary one to hide the pain). I did my job well but I didn’t thrive and I had no real ambitions in it. I just did it to make money to live.
Aspects of it appealed to me, of course. But overall satisfaction wasn’t really there.
Depression and the inauthentic life
I wonder if we live a life that is not authentic to our core values and personality if depression seeps in there. We have this facade and it wears us down. I’m not saying chronic pain wasn’t a massive factor in my depression or pushing through the pain to work and the stresses of that. It was. I’m just saying I wonder if without it- if depression would still have been there to some degree? Does an inauthentic life and living against your core values create depression? Or at the very least a sucky life satisfaction? Definitely it would affect life satisfaction levels for sure. And I wonder if enough life satisfaction factors are low if depression is the result?
Disabled but authentic
And now that I am disabled and completely unable to actually work because not only the chronic pain but also chronic vertigo I can be my authentic self again. I have no facade to maintain. I can dye my hair purple (as it currently is). I can wear what I want. I am a writer. I do freelance work. I blog. I do my indie books. I am an artist- still an amateur but I can let my creativity flourish and grow because I Can. Writing satisfies my creativity and thinking both depending on the type of writing. And I feel more Me now than I ever did then. Like I did back in university. Like I am permitted to be Me all the time.
And not just in my ‘free time’. Not like a tiny slice of time I can be me. And when I was banking, that slice of time I could be me was very, very narrow because chronic pain and working sucks all the energy you have- nothing is left for any other actual thing you want to do. So say good-bye to a social life or hobbies or any other thing. So, yeah, life satisfaction is a big No.
It is immensely satisfying. I may be disabled. I may be low functioning so I do not have much of the day I can actually function and to many people that wouldn’t seem like much of a ‘life’ at all. Maybe they would think my life sucks since I have to rest so much after so very little and can do so little in a day. But the life I have, the gleams of sunshine I can have, brings me contentment. And that is pretty important to me. Fulfillment. Sure, I would love to have more functionality and more of the day I can do things. Just More. Less limitations. A whole lot less limitations. But I will take what I can get.
I may never be able to work again. But at least I have more life satisfaction in the small things I can do. And if I am not disabled forever this does give me a wee hint on where I should aim myself for a future career. Not that I am not self-aware enough to introspective enough that I didn’t already know these areas were quite likely a good fit for me.
Like this test said one that follows my values: (because creativity was my top score)
With these types of tasks
- Creating Art
- Expressing Ideas
It mentioned jobs like writer, journalist, Desktop publisher, computer programmer- all of which I have had interest at one time or another. But mentioned there are many others I may be inclined to as long as I focus on my values.
Anyway, moot right now. Since every task I do requires like an hour of rest or a nap. But still one can hope I will be more functional one day.
Still I wonder if we all lived more to our authentic selves and truly found jobs that aligned with them would we be happier? Would our life satisfaction be so much better? I think it would. But we get lost along the way. Told what to do. What not to do. Or in my case… chronic pain dictated what I could or could not due and I just struggled to find A JOB I could do. And failed at that too because chronic pain simply doesn’t care what job it is- it will torment you either way. Now though, I wonder if I could have gone back to school and found a different career option that I could have done With my disabilities. A lot of computer programmers- now- work from home, for example. If I had made the choice to follow my personality instead of just a job I though i could manage with pain- I might have found something that made me happy and I could do with my disability. Such is life.
Anyway, it made me curious about what we do for a living and our life satisfaction. Our personality and what we choose to do for a living and whether they mesh or whether they do not at all work for us. And how often we end up just falling into something that just doesn’t work well for us but we need to do Something. We all have obligations. Sometimes we fear change and uncertainty as well. But they do say people change careers 5 times in their lives now… so worth thinking about our life satisfaction these days.