I sometimes think the happiest people are those who have found a pigeon hole for themselves, something that specifically and entirely defines them.
I am not one of these happy pigeons.
Staring at life from the other side of 45, I can not give you a succinct definition of who I am, what my company does, what my hobbies and interest are or what I do for a living. I also can not tell you truthfully where I see myself in five years or what my retirement plan is, though this has possibilities.
I am not in a pigeon hole, partly because resisting that pigeon hole allows me to have varied interests, to do things outside of what people expect me to do and remain flexible enough to accommodate and affect change.
But, this resistance to being pigeon-holed comes at a very steep price. My blog is hard to keep on focus, my résumé does not sort neatly by sorting software, speaker introductions are always being re-written to remove irrelevant material, warranty cards are tough to complete and on and on. The world has not yet labeled a pigeon hole “Gerard McLean” as the target population of pigeons is negligible. Ok, only one.
Simple questions like “So, Mr. McLean, what do you do for a living?” at a party becomes a very difficult question to answer truthfully without becoming a bore. I sometimes make up stuff like, “I launder money for Columbian drug lords” or “I’m a licensed bum,” both of which stop a conversation cold, causing the conversation-initiator to look uncomfortably for the soonest break to get away. In the event it actually does start a conversation, it becomes a lively one that could lead anywhere, but mostly truthfully about who I am and what I do. And most of the time, it is with someone else who is also not a happy pigeon.
Simply put, from the outside looking in, my life appears to have no focus. I am not a teacher, doctor, plumber or construction worker. I don’t have a sound bite occupation like “Joe the Plumber” as I am simply “Gerard the… ummm.. well..” though I do frequently hear people refer to me as “that guy who walks those two dogs every day.”
The fact that I am not in a pigeon hole hits me every time I sign up for a newsletter or Digg an article. The industry choices are not quite what I do. The Digg topics* are never quite the topic of the blog entry. Yet, I sense that there are a lot of folks for whom the topics and titles work perfectly. They are the happy pigeons.
Why am I sharing this? I dunno. Partly because I find a ton of irony in being in an industry that purports to support the randomness of varied interests, yet constantly asks you to define yourself through the values of a drop-down menu. Partly because I needed an excuse to write off-topic. Partly because I needed to justify changing my tag line above. Mostly because I needed an entertaining, interesting and authentic article for this blog.
I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I enjoyed driving.
*My choices for this? Offbeat, animals (pigeons and dogs), lifestyle… see what I mean? It just doesn’t fit.