Though 2 out of 3 of my fellowships were in aerospace engineering, I looked up at the steep uphill climb toward an impenetrable "Boys Club" of that field and thought, "Ugh, this is not how I want to waste my time or energy." It'd be 10 years later that I'd find the words to express how I felt, "Why swim upstream? I am not a salmon!"
So I used my last fellowship to test the waters of a new field: energy research. I've always loved the ocean, whales, and sea turtles. I'm a masterful minimalist, with a super low carbon footprint. My dissertation project in junior college was on energy efficiency. My proudest volunteer project was on solar energy. Yes, methinks becoming a tree hugger is a grand idea!
I felt so good with this Energy Researcher skin on. I was so driven from within. I knew that Earth deserved to be treated consciously and wholesomely.
I taught myself everything I needed to know to handle very expensive and sensitive research equipment. I wrote and tested complex algorithms. I converted tons of data into energy saving devices or materials, from solar panels, to glass window composition, to smart sensors.
I even attracted the attention of two mentors, both women (woo-freakin'-hoo!) who were so open and generous to guide me down this path. I even translated the data into beautiful Powerpoint presentations to inspire people or companies to switch to energy saving devices or materials. My supervisor even offered me a full-time position after this fellowship.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
– Ellany Lea
Letting Go / Walking Away
But I let it all go. Who does that?!? Who stares straight up a red carpet lined with full-time job offers and amazing female mentors, and walks away?!? I guess I do. Was I mad? At the time, it felt like yes. Only now can I see how my saw of discernment was being sharpened at each re-invention.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. I had no idea that was the test... until 9 years later when all my coaching clients repeated that same sentence back to me. "I hear your voice in my head, Ellany, telling me, 'Just because you can, doesn't mean you should,'" they'd say.
Working in a laboratory was luxuriously peaceful for my inner hermit, but also incredibly dull and isolating. Just because I was passionate, even talented in my own way, about the environment, doesn't mean I should pursue a full-time forever career in it.
Oh and I was working within government. Bleh. So slow. So much needless debate. Near zero action or propulsion forward. Bleh. Never again.
Fears / Emotional Rumble
Fear of not making a big enough impact or a meaningful enough legacy
Mild shame at not fitting the "tree hugger" archetype for this career (ie not fierce and "Green Peace" enough)
Fear of perpetual loneliness as a lab rat (this was a microscopic peek into the World World III that would take place inside of me between the inner Hermit and the inextricable need for human connection)
Fear of research never turning into concrete, tangible application (stuck in the cogs)
Agony of having to start all over from scratch, at the bottom of the ladder in a new field
Heavy pain of lost time and sunken cost
Pride at not having told anyone about this career change to minimize criticism
Dread of having to write endless grant applications for funding
Multi-potential identity crisis of "I could do anything, if only I knew what it was!?!"
FFS what now?!? You invested 9.5 years of training to become an electrical / mechanical / computer engineer and now you want to go hug trees?
When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?
Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What the f*ck is wrong with you?
At this rate, you'll never amount to anything.
Unfolding Destiny / Lessons
Grit: 7/10 | Grace: 3/10
It is a subtle art to discern the difference between resistance (the natural rite of passage to master any skill) and fighting against destiny (the self created suffering from going against the grain on a path that is not yours to walk on in the first place).
Though my teenage years and early 20's shoulda, coulda, woulda been for experimenting, dabbling, and having fun, I did not have this privilege or luxury. It was all so painful and confusing. Through my UN volunteer work, I witnessed teenage girls in Subsaharan Africa deprived of an education and married off or put to work for their family's financial gain.
Me, I got an out-of-this world privileged education. I wasn't married off. And yet I had the same "put her to work for her family's financial gain" on my shoulders. None of it made any rational sense.
Everything in my life after age 14 was do or die: I succeed or my family dies. I was less worried about them dying of hunger and homelessness. I was more terrified of them dying of "shame upon the family!" had I not over-compensated for the challenges of my parents' immigration, with money, fame, money, status, money and money.
Even so, my greatest lesson and takeaway is the awe of how much we don't realize is happening in the background of our lives. Even though I was piercingly lonely, depressed and lost, the Universe was:
- sharpening my clairscentient discernment skills, like a wet stone on a sword's edge (which I'd only realize 9 years later)
- fortifying my resilience to criticism and crisis, like a blazing fire, and
- melding a delicious intimacy with my soul, like butter melting on a skillet.
If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?
Sacred Brand Archetypes
Only in retrospect was I able to see why I was so drawn to this career 180, even though it made no rational sense to me or anyone around me. I felt the deep calling to stand up and advocate for Mother Earth, with sincere belief that I could make it shiny and new again.
It'd be another 15 years before I fully comprehended the nature of our soul, which is to express itself organically, regardless of egoic control. Here, my soul expressed itself through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Humanitarian (primary) and Innocence (secondary). Who knew?!?
In this series...
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Computer Teacher (Part 1/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Developer (Part 2/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Industrial Machinist (Part 3/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Banking Officer (Part 4/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerospace Engineer (Part 5/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Energy Researcher (Part 6/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Systems Designer (Part 7/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an International Aid Worker (Part 8/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Global E-Strategist (Part 9/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a United Nations Consultant (Part 10/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Design Agency (Part 11/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Success Coach (Part 12/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Wealth Mentor (Part 13/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerial Yoga Studio (Part 14/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Psychotherapist (Part 15/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Spiritual Guide (Part 16/16)