by Maja S. Todorovic
We all know that career as a definition and societal phenomena has undergone many changes and I do believe that today it has become very personal thing. A stay-at-home mom, having three kids and raising her family can be very satisfied with her life. Or someone who is working every day in an isolated lab, researching and developing new formulas can be very proud of their life. It all comes down to what we perceive that we are good at and what we consider success in life.
But we also have to keep in mind that many factors influence our decisions and how we see ourselves – especially in early adolescence. In my culture, technical sciences were seen as a crown of any scientific advancement and many of us were conditioned to make our educational choices according to that premise. Not what you are talented for, not what you liked to do – but rather what job markets needed.
And there is nothing wrong with having that factor in mind, but also trying to find that middle ground where you can really express your talents and true nature – in meaningful and contributive way, is what you can do best for yourself (especially when you have a lots of interests).
What all that has to do with poetry, you might ask? Nothing and everything – depending how you look at things. As we practice writing poetry, I do believe that at the most deepest levels, while training ourselves to observe the world, we also observe ourselves: our feelings, needs, inclinations, behavioral patterns, habits. When you write in the first person, your attention is focused on yourself. You are learning about ‘real you’ and from there what kind of life you want. Poetic language is condescend, emotionally ‘pumped up’ and may contain hidden messages that in regular writing we would easily omit.
Free writing and journaling are quite straightforward and direct. Poetry very much relies on metaphor and figurative language. What we actually see and perceive, once expressed in metaphorical speech can also serve as a basis of developing new reality we want to experience – in any aspect of life. It can trigger ideas for solutions and new approaches to problems, even when it comes to your career choice.
Instead of saying:” I’m confused, I don’t know what I want, what I want to do”, we can also say:
“Everything is blur and fogy around me,
I can’t see clearly.
If I walk I might trip and fall.”
This kind of perspective can further opens door to new possibilities instead locking us down in our own thinking, leaving us feeling deprived, depressed or miserable. The above metaphor might apply the need for taking cautious, baby steps, trying to focus on one thing at the time (trying to find direction in dense fog and search for light).
This kind of approach can lead to development of healthy narrative identity, as defined by Northwestern University psychologist Dan McAdams. As further described in this article McAdams says
Narrative identity as an internalized story you create about yourself — your own personal myth. Like myths, our narrative identity contains heroes and villains that help us or hold us back, major events that determine the plot, challenges overcome and suffering we have endured. When we want people to understand us, we share our story or parts of it with them; when we want to know who another person is, we ask them to share part of their story.
How we perceive our lives also leads to “narrative choices” we make. If we are able to see anything good in our past experiences and have that internalized narrative that sheds a light of growth and improvement, is the key to crafting a positive identity, having control over your life and that you are able to overcome life’s obstacles.
And I often like to say “we can’t change the past, but we can rewrite it”. Poetry can help us to tell a different story about ourselves. Our capabilities, our desires, but also understanding of different perspectives. But most importantly, as poetry ask you to access your deepest and most hidden thoughts and parts of your personality, it can help you realize what you really want, what is your potential and how to realize it.
Guest post contributed by Maja S. Todorovic. Maja is an educator and writer from Belgrade, currently living in in the Hague, Netherlands. After finishing her PhD in Organizational Sciences and years of academic work, she switched her scientific pen for more creative expressions. With 3 books and 2 dissertations published, now she helps people find their writing voice and experience creativity through their own words. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.