They say whatever happens, is always for a reason, and usually for the best.
As a child I used to think, who is the they, how do they know? Nonetheless this stuck with me. I would tell myself this repeatedly over the course of my life, sometimes not knowing what that really meant, most times not convinced that it was true. It helped to say it though, think it, and so somehow I would believe it?
But today something interesting happened, and I’ll get to that in a moment. Let me back up a bit. It hasn’t been until recent times that I’ve truly embraced my own life, my thought in shaping it, my role in making it. This has made me more appreciative, even grateful for where I am, of who I am, and those that have played a role in this journey of mine.
Lately, it had started to feel like I was in a race, not against anyone, but against myself, my past, my own time. It was as though I was telling myself, “You’ve lost a lot of time not being you, not living up to your life. You now have to make up for it, do more, be more, in half the time, double the effort.” I know you’re thinking that’s not a bad thing, one can always be better. 100%. But race against time is one, no one has won.
What was I trying to achieve? Turns out I was actually trying to find something, not just anything but something really meaningful – in fact, it was my meaning, my why, my reason, to my life. A few steps ahead in my journey, I have come to realize that you’re not supposed to beat time, you’re supposed to be with it – spend it wisely on doing things that make you happy, that bring you value. To each their own.
For me, it means being fully dedicated to my work, being of value to it; it means cultivating my passion, my writing, bringing value through it; it means being with my family, bringing value to them.
Something I’ve not written about before, but is important to understand the context of my story today, is about my work. Those of you who have been reading my stories would know that I’m obsessed with stories, always have been. I believe in the power of a good story, and am always looking for one. You would think I would be working as a journalist, or a writer/blogger, when in reality I work at a media agency. I took up the job as challenge to myself, because it was something I had no prior experience in (remember my race to do more). Recently, I was promoted into a new role, again something I have had no prior experience in, but solely because I have built a relationship, with my Director, Hugh Prysten, my boss, my mentor – who has a huge influence on my life, who inspires me to be better, to do the right thing, and do it better.
This new role needs me to be involved hands on in data validation and analysis, information design, and the way I look at it now, storytelling. When I started out, I remember being so unsure about how this was all going to play out, my own interest, ability, growth, and the connection of all of this with my greater passion. But I told myself there was a reason and it would be for the best. I trusted Hugh, and I was determined to work hard. I was also curious to find out this reason for once.
That brings me to today. Today, I found it, this reason, my reason.
I came across an exhibit by IBM – Hidden Portraits, an initiative of Arts by Watson. I encourage you to take a look at the website to get a deeper understanding, but I would summarize it in a simple way – a deep analysis of data on famous personalties to draw insights that the world would never have known about them, communicated through experiential installations in collaboration with artists.
An interactive part of the exhibit was answering questions for Watson while he analyzed me based on a few traits using highly complex tools like Tone Analyzer, Visual Recognition, Personality Insights, Natural Language Learning (I don’t really know what they mean either!). Within a few minutes a picture of me was printed out, made up of emojis that reflected my personality. MIND BLOWN. For the first time, in that very moment, I felt as though this was exactly where I was meant to be, what I was meant to do.
All of it suddenly made sense – why I love stories and design thinking, and why they are connected, why I took up this job and why I wanted to work with Hugh, why I was intrigued by Tableau and why I work on it today, why I came across this IBM exhibit event on Facebook and why I decided to go visit it. The thought, that maybe someday you’ll see one such exhibit that I have worked on, that I designed based on insights I drew from people and their stories, from experiences and their meaning, it made me realize that what I really want to do, is to tell stories, and the way I want to do it, is by marrying data and words and experiences. That thought right then is the reason my life has taken the course it has.
They say whatever happens, is always for a reason, and usually for the best. They say the truth.