I spent last week working on a job application for the position I’ve been filling for the past 4 months. I hate writing job applications as a rule, but this one was both harder and easier than previous ones–easier because I *knew* without a doubt that I could do the job in question, harder because it was something akin to writing a deeply personal note to someone and then having to actually *be* there when they read it. A little awkward.
But this time around I noticed something: as I worked on my application–and in the months before that, really–I kept seeing how my previous experience fed into this seemingly completely unrelated job. In the end, my resume became more than a job history, it became part of a story about what I’ve learned from all these different experiences. And that got me thinking.
Have you ever thought about the term “curriculum vitae”? We all know that a CV is sorta-kinda-a-resume-but-with-a bit-of-other-stuff, but if you look at the actual words, a new and fun definition emerges (yes, I know, I’m a language nerd…but bear with me).
The word curriculum is derived from a word that refers to the course of deeds and experiences by which children grow to adults–deeds in and out of school, experiences planned and unplanned. The word vitae means “of life,” so really, an alternate definition of curriculum vitae could be “the actions, decisions, and life experiences that have made you who you are today.”
And that opens up a whole new field of exploration.
What are the experiences and choices that have made you the person you are today? What are your stories?
What is my curriculum vitae? What are the stories that shaped me?
Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, my life is transformed into a patchwork of experiences, each of which shaped me. And I shift from being a person who feels utterly ordinary to feeling like a completely unique constellation of stories.
- -I worked as a pita-roller and met 2 famous musicians (well, famous in Canada, anyway) and my first fiance.
- -I hosted a fashion show, and it was terrifying
- -I was a martyred girlfriend for one agonizing year in university
- -I hosted my own campus radio show for 4 years on 2 different campuses
- -I once participated in an amateur strip-tease. I was awesome.
- -I danced in the same performance as the legendary Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington (and they complimented me on my choreography)
- -I taught dance to one little girl in her parents’ basement…and I’ve watched that little girl grow up. I got that job by letting loose and boogieing with said little girl at a wedding.
- -I dropped out of the first university I attended because living in New York City shrivelled my soul and nearly killed me.
- -I entered a ballroom dance competition with a team of near-beginners. My partner and I won 2nd in tango and 7th in rhumba, but I maintain that it was the participating that counts the most.
- -I travelled across Canada by myself on the train, journalling the whole way. I still treasure those journals
- -I was proposed to and was the propose-r
- -I signed up to go to France for my junior year of university…and then transferred to a university in my home city at the last minute instead of going. Now I see that it was because I was completely and utterly terrified.
- -I married my ex’s friend…who was also my friend’s ex.
- I worked as an advertising assistant and created a radio PSA that everyone HATED (it featured music by Celine Dion and it was played on a university radio station…oops)
You get the idea. And that’s just a sampling. We haven’t even mentioned that whole “parenthood” thing yet. Some of these things were amazing and some were terrible. Some of them I leaped into on purpose, and some just…happened. But they’re all part of me now.
It’s so easy to think that we’re nothing special, or to look at someone else’s collection of stories and think “Oh, sure, THEY did cool stuff, but they’re Brave and Special and Not Me. I haven’t done ANYTHING.”
And that’s crap. We all absolutely have stories–I do, and you do. I know because you’re alive, because you have been alive for years, and because people can’t live without having experiences and making decisions. We do it every day. You just have to recognize them for what they really are.
What is your curriculum vitae? What are the experiences that have made you the adult you are today?
And, a bonus question that’s shaping my thoughts these days:
In ten years time, what stories do you want to be able to tell?