Jack of All Trades

Thursday, June 20, 2019


After wandering down windy middle-of-nowhere roads, we pulled into a gravel driveway leading to my cousin's new wife's family's home (that was a mouthful, and I cut out the part where he's actually my second cousin, not my first cousin). A large door hanging in the middle of the lawn welcomed us to The Copper Door.  In the front of the house, a tiny entrance to what looked like an even tinier store enticed us with kitschy signs.

My cousin's father-in-law directed us to park in the back and we all settled into celebrate their marriage which officially started an hour prior.  Jane, my new cousin-in-law's mother, stirred potatoes and shouted orders to her husband in preparation of dinner, still dressed with her hair beautifully done.  My mom couldn't contain her curiosity and asked about the store in the front of the house.  Jane shrugged, indicating it wasn't much of anything, but her niece Jenna stepped in.

"C'mon, you guys gotta see this," Jenna said, ushering us down stairs into a large basement where she informed us the arrangements for the store were put together.  "Luckily, we have this space because we've largely been using it for making cookies." (Sidenote: Cookie Tables at weddings is a huge Western Pennsylvania tradition.  It's fantastic.)

Jenna led us through a side door, leading me to a meticulously maintained hair washing station.  "This is a...hair salon?" I asked.  "We also do nails.  Actually, I do the nails!" Jenna proudly declared.  "Oh, I thought this was like a store or something," I said before noticing a further larger entrance that opened up into the most endearing country store I've ever seen.

I walked through and stared at the obvious skill put into arranging the store.  To the left a beach theme greeted me.  In the center of the room, country farm decor exploded into the space.  Off to the side, a 4th of July theme edged for space. 

"Wait, Jane has a country store and a hair salon?" I twirled to find Jenna, who had a smile plastered on her face.

"Yup, Aunt Jane loves both businesses and she figured, why not do both?"

"And she does it all from home," I commented and ran my hand over a painted cow Jenna proudly told me was crafted by Jane's husband.

I wandered through the aisles, with my eyes darting back to the hair salon.  Two completely separate passions operating within inches of each other all by the same owner.  "She must have been doing this for years.  When did she start this?"

"Oh, only about 5 or 7 years ago maybe? This is all pretty new. She just decided to go for it and both are doing really, really well," Jenna responded with genuine pride.

I want to be a writer, and a reseller, and a website designer, and maybe some type of social media marketing or public relations person, or even a data analyst because I am a dork who likes numbers.  I'm so terrified of picking one but as I found myself in yet another room full of faux floral arrangements, I realized maybe I don't have to choose just one. 

For a long time the saying, "jack of all trades, master of none" dominated my thoughts.  I feared if I didn't pick one thing to master and spent my time fanning the tiny flames of all my passions, I wouldn't accomplish anything at all.  BUT, if I did pick only one path to pursue, would there be pieces of me left unsatisfied?  I felt stuck and stressed that I'm 30 and still don't know what I'm going to be when I grow up.

Jane's hair salon and county store weren't competing passions.  Both businesses fulfilled her so she pursued them both and in the same space so she could devote time to each as needed.  I can follow more than one career path if I really want to.  I'm never going to be too old. All it takes is a little mental reframing, belief in myself, and a bit of a middle finger to the traditional career pathways. 

And if there's one thing I love, it's a middle finger.



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