Picking one thing to be good at

A blog is supposed to be an extension of a personal brand, an outlet where people can see the “real you” and connect.  At least, that’s what all the career services and career advice people are trying to tell me.  At the same time, all this advice tells me to “edit myself” to a 30-second snippet that has the most important essence about me that will draw people in.  This is one thing I am NOT good at – I can’t even commit to a focus for this blog. 🙂

When I was in high school, I taught myself to play the flute, trombone and french horn.  I also played in city & school orchestras (violin), city & school choirs, concert band, piano lessons, and participating in the school newspaper and the yearbook.  My mom rolled her eyes every time I asked to do something new, saying, “why don’t you just pick one thing and be good at it?”  She was right about one thing – I wasn’t ever really notably great at any of those activities, but I was in it for the knowledge, not the distinction.

This “problem” has grown with time and disposable income.  I get into things for knowledge, I get out of them without much distinction.  I gain a lot of marketable skill in ways that dots can’t sensibly connect.

This has made personal branding excessively difficult – how do i start to tell a recruiter why I spent 6.5 years studying engineering to go into 10 years in education, culminating in a technology position that I am not interested in furthering because I went to business school?  Oh, and I also knit funny hats for fun.  (See picture above: Roscoe is a funny-hat model.)

The only one-phrase tie I can commandeer to describe myself is that I can “make it work”.  Like my hero, style maven Tim Gunn.  I can do enough of everything to fix anything.  I am not lacking in talent or ambition, usually sufficient motivation all I need to get me going.  (Motivation, ah, the fodder for another future musing.)

Is THIS my personal brand?  Making it work?  Other than the fact that it’s someone else’s signature phrase, of course.  I’m going to change my blog title and let that percolate for a bit.

Starting in the middle

I didn’t really want to start a blog in the “middle”.  It’s a bit like starting a book in the middle – you enter, take a few pages to get your bearings, and decide if you want to restart at the beginning and find out the whole story.  However, there’s no beginning here, and no formed direction yet.  A little like my entire life right now.  What better way to get a hold of where I’m going by taking stock of my choices in words?  I’m going to resist the urge to fill in all the back-story right away, and try to stick to what’s on my mind.  However, I only have marginal success in achieving that in real life, nevermind in print.

Things I think about a lot and therefore may decide to write about over time:

  • Vault 31 – our 10+ year horizon “project house”/lifestyle/source of impending continuous marital dissent
  • Crafting – knitting, sewing, building things that are hilarious, yet completely un-sellable due to the inadequate potential compensation for time and materials.
  • Cooking and Eating (and Fitness) – my lifelong dilemma about eating “healthy” yet refusing to give up things that are delicious.  “Healthy” usually loses out.  I also have a bit of a focus on the cultural implications that are imposed upon us by things being labeled as “healthy”.
  • Music – these days, it’s mostly nostalgic waxing about someone else’s musical genius.  That, and a lot of karaoke.
  • Career – this never-ending search for a new career to “define me”, and/or the grand decision of whether or not the role of my new career is to define me or just to provide me with the capital and moderate purpose to sustain the rest of my interests.

And of course, being a “bad Asian” – I can’t be the only one a little lost in the Asian diaspora.  I am 30-something and marginally living up to the Asian stereotype largely misunderstood by media and loosely defined by the movie the Joy Luck Club.  I spent so many years growing up largely white-identified and wishing people wouldn’t see me through Joy Luck glasses.  Yet, when I finally married Soy Sauce guy (see: Joy Luck Club movie) I kept my last name, fearing that it would strip me of the Asian identity that I had taken so many years to develop.

So here it is.  The first steps of my chronicles as a Bad Asian.  My mom always thought I was the “bad child” anyways.