A friend recently posted this quote on my social media timeline…
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity”.
(It looks like this quote, commonly attributed to Dorothy Parker, was actually said by Ellen Parr)
My friend was prompted to share from a chat we had where I said that I’ve found I can’t date men who aren’t curious about the world. It’s not about height, or looks, or financial status. No. My line in the sand is whether their mind is full of questions and interest in what’s going on around them. Turns out that makes finding such a creature on Tinder & the like is a bit like trying to find that proverbial needle in a haystack. But that story is for another blog, another time!
I’m really blooming curious. And also, by virtue of that, very rarely bored which has certainly been useful in 2020.
It’s taken me a long time, perhaps surprisingly, to get to a place where I celebrate this rather than berate myself for being too much of a magpie, being too easily distracted, a jack of all trades and master of none.
We’ve all read or heard the TED talks about how if you do something for 10,000 hours you can master it. Blimey. That’s a bit intimidating to a curious lass like me. How can I ever spend that long on something and ignore all the other fascinating, pleasing and inspiring things around me?
This isn’t a new wrangle. As a kid I’d see some child prodigy on the telly and decide, Right! I’m going to be a prodigy! And I’d throw myself into a hobby or challenge… until the next interesting thing came along. I learnt the Greek alphabet at the age of 8 because Blue Peter had a kid on who could speak ancient Greek. I also attempted to beat the world record set by some prim 10 year old in reciting Hamlet’s soliloquy in the fastest time. A rather strange introduction to Shakespeare but I was aiming for the top! Of course, I came nowhere near the top.
I actually did work experience at Blue Peter when I was 17. My further ed college where I was doing my A Levels was rather laid back about organising anything and just said we should find somewhere to do a week’s experience. I found a directory of Theatre and TV names and addresses in the library and started writing letters. Blue Peter and the Guilgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue are the ones who got back to me. The experience at the theatre, working Front of House, was interesting. I narrowly missed an introduction to Kevin Spacey whilst there… hindsight making the narrow miss a good thing perhaps.
Blue Peter was a different experience. I shadowed one of the producers… we went to the Science Museum to measure up a steam engine to see if it was big enough for the keyboard for D:REAM’s performance the following week. I stuck 500 holographic stickers on a bit of gauze so the screen would twinkle whilst a pair of good looking twins perched on stools singing about love. My favourite job was hanging about in the garden all afternoon making sure George the tortoise didn’t fall in the pond, which apparently he did repeatedly, whilst they filmed a bit about the world junior ferret racing champions.
A curious girl’s dream, right? Actually... no.
At that time they were creating two live and one pre-recorded episodes a week. It was a curiosity factory. There was utter fascination in something and then, a moment later, once it was filmed it was dropped and they were on to the next thing. It felt really hollow. I came away from that experience realising that fast moving TV was not the place for me.
That memory has been useful for me recently though, as it shows that I’m not innately flighty: I’ve got lots of interests and will definitely not be a supreme master of one thing, but I also spend time on the things I love. I can read a book cover to cover (although that's harder than it used to be). I can spend hundreds of hours creating a piece of beadwork or bead embroidery. And, I can commit to nurturing and developing my skills so I can really be the best I can be in work.
I’ve really been wrangling with my work recently. I do lots of things: I really thrive from having fingers in lots of pies. At the moment I’ve got my Life Coach practice, two social enterprises (See Think Make and Mrs Magooty) and a freelance portfolio of work as a Creative Producer/Facilitator/Consultant in the arts and heritage. It’s been feeling like a bit of a jumble, especially when I’ve been trying to share more on social media about what I’m up to. I’ve been telling myself it’s too scattergun… it’s all over the place… how’s anyone going to get who I am if I’m posting about beadwork one minute, a heritage animation the next and then life coaching after that?
Well in October I had a break through. My curiosity has led me down the path of building this amazingly varied and interesting work portfolio. I’m really blooming fortunate as it suits who I am. It isn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite, it’s wonderful and now I’m going to celebrate it. My eclectic eccentricity is my branding.
Urgh. Sorry. I used the word branding and now I’m feeling a bit nauseous.
As part of my break through I’ve decided to catch myself every time I use the word ‘should’. Especially around things like (deep breath) branding, promotion and marketing. Of course, I need to do these things and try to make them good. I work for myself – if I’m not getting the word out there, there is no work! But I am resolutely going to do them my way. A way that doesn’t feel awkward or leave a little taste of sick in my mouth. No more will I berate myself with a sentence that starts “I should do it this way”. Says who?! Nope. No more. Should is going in the bin.
And for me, it’s all about telling stories. It always has been really. It’s why I realised I wasn’t destined to work on Blue Peter – the stories never had a chance to unfold. You just got the opening paragraph before it floated away and the next story was there.
I do love stories.
If you’re a bit of a curious magpie like me, I’d love to hear your story too. You can book a half hour chat with me here and we can share a cuppa and talk about interesting things.
Honestly. I’m totally offering that time to you no strings attached. I do this because the more people I talk to about stories, the more I want to tell them and hear others. It’s one of the best professional development things I think I can do right now and it might be a useful thing for you too...