BY ELLANY LEA • SEP 30, 2020 • 6 MIN READ
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerospace Engineer (Part 5/16)
Someone out there is able to study the cosmos thanks to aerospace telescope parts that I made with my two bare hands. But keeping the awe of the cosmos in my heart isn't the same as spending an entire career climbing uphill toward an impenetrable "Boys Club."
Not yet knowing about introversion, I went back to the sciences from banking thinking, "Ugh. I'm not a people person. Keep those whiny customers as far away from me as possible."
The year I applied to university, based solely on grades, it was harder to get accepted into Electrical Engineering (EE) than it was into Medicine. In our first EE course, they did the classic, "Look to your left and look to your right, one of them won't be here next semester." And they were right. A heap of peers switched to business, finance or another easier program.
Two years after my 4 year program, I wanted to jump ship too. I dreamed of studying nano-neuro-psychology or international women's right, or even baby whales. I so envied my white friends who were told, "University is for trying a whole a bunch of things, just go have fun, dear, enjoy yourself!"
The only way I could keep going, and not toss away those two arduous years as sunken cost, was to do fun things with Engineers Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity and the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. I don't know exactly how, but I seemed to always be thrust into leadership roles. That combined with straight A's earned me 3 prestigious fellowships for women in S.T.E.M. at Canada's national research institutes.
I remember thinking, "FINALLY!!! A perk for being a woman. ONE single perk! Woohoo!"
I moved from East to West coast of the country for my first fellowship. Like I said in career no. 1, ever since I could remember, I had this unshakable feeling of wanting to get out, even though I didn't know out of what. For that glorious summer, I got out!
I worked at an astrophysics research lab, perched on top of a mountain, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lakes. My fellows and I had soooooo much fun together: BBQs, waterfalls, hikes, ferries, and using million dollar telescopes to watch the meteor showers.
There are at least 2 telescopes, maybe more, out there in the world with custom designed metal parts or glass lenses that I made with my two bare hands. Someone out there is able to study the cosmos thanks to these two hands. How cool is that?!? I could fluently speak design (conceptual, simulation) and manufacturing (practical, physical), which is so rare in engineering. I also fluently spoke electrical and mechanical, which is also very rare. I had this genius within me. I could have made aerospace engineering into an incredible career.
LETTING GO / WALKING AWAY
But I let it all go. Again. Even just writing this series makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time, out of hysteria and lunacy. And we're only at career 5 of 16! Gosh, if you had told me there'd be 11 more re-inventions, I would have just fainted right then and there and never woken up.
My boss's boss was generally pretty cool, but my direct boss, not so much. Yes, I landed in this world thanks to a "Women in Engineering" fellowship. But nowhere in the program brochure did they mention how I'd be surrounded by seas of males who lacked passion, vision, creativity, leadership, emotional and/or social intelligence.
I couldn't stand being micro-managed by old white men, who treated me like a secretary. It's as if my inner feminist piggy backed my inner non-conformist and told my inner genius, "Listen. I know you'd thrive in this career. But we're not doing this. Period." Lol!
FEARS / EMOTIONAL RUMBLE
Hopeless despair that even aerospace, the coolest subfield of S.T.E.M. was not fitting right
Depressing confusion at not know what would fit right and fulfill me
Anger at myself, "Why can't I just pick this, stick to this, and call it a day?!?"
Fear of a never ending stream of lame bosses if I stayed
A constant uphill battle with an impenetrable "Boys Club" if I pursued this career
Titanic pressure to chose a specialty, get a high paying job and retire my parents within a one year window (my parents had kids late)
Listlessness from being surrounded by listless colleagues
Fear of being controlled and perpetually patronized if I stayed
Fear of never having my talents acknowledged or rewarded
Dread of having to constantly push paperwork to secure funding
Why can't you just stay the course in engineering?
Just pick one already, FFS!
When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?
Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?
UNFOLDING DESTINY / LESSONS
Grit: 16/10 | Grace: 5/10
Though I kept the awe of the cosmos in my heart, I never wondered, not even once, where that career might have lead me. I think it's because my soul somehow knew that my genius would quickly find another shiny object to play with. My soul wasn't worried about me.
I followed my longings for freedom and sovereignty, but the freaky part is that I had no clue I was even doing that! It'd be another 7 years before I ever learned about such things as values, inner compass, and fulfillment through my professional coach training (in career no. 12).
Those words never even existed in my vocabulary or consciousness, in any of the 4 languages I spoke. I just felt and was repeatedly told that I was crazy, too much and not enough. I mean, how can you be too much and not enough, at the same time?!? Methinks the critics are the crazy ones...
My greatest lesson and takeaway is to discern and keep passions and career separate. I can be fascinated by something, research and play with it, but protect it dearly and even sacredly by not turning it into a career.
SACRED BRAND ARCHETYPES
Even though I couldn't articulate it at the time, I felt like a modern day Leonardo Da Vinci, tinkering with software and hardware, playing detective with the cosmos, through experimentation and scientific rigor.
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 Explorer (primary) and Sage (secondary). Who knew?!?
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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)