Today’s post is a feature from Pantsuits guest contributor Morgana; tradeswoman, lady about town and friend of the blog. 

I’ve always been pretty terribly indecisive and a commitment-phobe. Which are bad. I’m also a learning junkie, which could be good?

Here in Canada if you come from a particular background and your parents make a reasonable amount of money, and you have a decent level of intelligence, there may seem to be no limits to the number of career avenues that are available. You are free to follow your dreams and see through your passions. Woohoo! The world is at your fingertips!

I could never say this is a bad thing, it is indeed a very lucky and very enviable place to be, but what happens if you want to do everything?

I’ve had it in my head since I was a kid that in order for you to be really truly successful, you had to find the one thing that you were passionate about and follow that, obsess over it and in turn dominate the world with it. Personal and social fulfillment through work was an important value.

My family is fairly creative, my mom was a painter, filmmaker and musician; my dad is a filmmaker, multimedia artist and teacher; and my sister is a painter. All really creative people who know what they’re good at and follow through, practicing, working hard with enviable focus and drive. Many of my friends are like this as well: very driven, practical people with fantastically creative minds.

Personally, I have always been a dabbler, and through my own comparison to the brilliant people in my life, it’s invariably felt like a flaw. I like trying new things, starting new projects, exploring new places, experimenting and then dropping them, or letting them fade away. A perfect candidate for a liberal education.

In university, I studied everything I found interesting: world literature, creative writing, anthropology, history, biology, languages, even comic books (giant nerd alert). I learned how to speak, how to write, how to research; all things that have proved invaluable to me in the dabblings I’ve pursued. Workwise, I’ve had a job with as a labourer that I just kept on doing so I could travel after I graduated.

And then four years passed, and now I’m 29.

Maybe it’s the looming end to my twenties and the inevitable question of reproduction that plagues women of a certain age. Maybe it’s societal pressure to find some kind of niche. Maybe I want the comfort of a respectable title to that annoying question, “and what do you do?” that always pops up at parties. I am kind of sick of telling people I’m a Zamboni driver. The Canadian cachet wears thin.

The list of job requirements in my head is fairly ridiculous on first glance:

  • Work that uses my head and my hands: One thing about getting older is you start to get to know yourself a bit better. I need a balance in my work life of the physical and the mental. I like problem-solving, but I have to be moving around while I do it.
  • Will constantly be learning new things: self-explanatory…work needs to be challenging and enables personal growth
  • Not be stuck behind a desk/ be in the same place: Hell = my own private cubicle
  • Be creative in my work: I want to utilize my abilities to make beautiful/new/society-challenging things
  • Feel like my work has a greater purpose: I want to be able to help my family and my greater community in some way. I want to contribute to making the world a better place
  • Be able to branch out into different types of work under the same umbrella: I loooove to keep my options open.
  • Be able to take off and travel at will: the ability to leave a job and easily pick up another, or have a really flexible work/life balance is really sexy
  • Be comfortable financially

So after some consideration, and soul-searching, I decided to become a carpenter.

Weirdly, impossibly, this career seems to fit or could fit all of the minute and niggling criteria I’ve laid out for myself.

I’m an apprentice carpenter now, working in commercial finishing. I install gorgeous millwork in law offices and put up doors in industrial warehouses. It’s challenging mentally, physically, and socially (I am literally the first woman to work as an installer for this company), but I see the potential in the work I’m doing for where I want to go in the future. My thought is, we’re only limited by our own creativity in what we can do with our knowledge, so hopefully I’ve got a decent imagination.

Morgana is an apprentice carpenter who likes learning new things about everything. She writes about navigating weird workplace dynamics, how to discuss uncomfortable politics with strangers, and high fashion on the construction site.