Hindus believe in reincarnation: after death the soul is reborn in a different body, living a cycle of lives until it ultimately attains enlightenment.
The funny thing is, since adolescence, my life has been a series of living reincarnations. Yes, I know that everyone goes through changes, and life doesn’t stay the same for anyone, but I think maybe I have chopped and changed a lot more than the average thirty-something out there. I seem to have a thing for reinvention.
Part of the reason for this, is my ‘puttylike’ personality (see my former post on multipotentiality). I have always had a lot of interests, and found it so difficult to find a specialism. At any one given time, I have about ten or more ideas and projects that I am working on, or swimming around my head, and this has made it incredibly difficult for me to be pinned down at any point.
Whenever I think back to one of my past ‘lives’, it is with some surprise and even a little disbelief – “Did I really do that? Was that really me?” and when I talk about some of those past lives to friends, everything sounds so surreal. Have I really lived through more changes than the average person? I’m not sure, you be the judge. Here is a brief run-down of my main incarnations:
This is one I have not grown out of. I was no ordinary nerd. I was a super nerd. My main domain was the school library , where I obsessed over Thomas Hardy, the ancient Greeks, time travel, and Apartheid, among other things.
Suddenly I’m alternative and a bit frightening. Even though I ended up studying design, I was always more of a Fine Artist. During this incarnation, I traveled to Paris, Amsterdam, Spain and Germany. I traveled around Northern India on my own, completely ignored my body’s circadian rhythm and spouted leftist politics.
3.Small time Editor
Out in rural Oxfordshire, I started working for a company that produced magazines about recycled printer cartridges?? I worked in a shed in the middle of nowhere, with an outdoor toilet. I walked for miles through the English countryside to get to work every day. People stared at the color of my skin, and I learned to be competent with computers, talk to tech people, and fix printers.
Back in London I actually worked as a personal shopper and stylist, not just to frenzied teenagers, but stars. I have stood in the same dressing room as Liz Hurley, hunted down dresses for Kate Moss, and taken care of Jamie Oliver’s pregnant wife. I did on-stage makeovers, dressed models at shoots, and attended fashion shows. People would take pictures of the way I dressed for papers and magazines (I still have copies of them!). More importantly, I would think nothing of going into work wearing a sequinned dress and pink stillettos. This led to my next incarnation…
2. PR girl / designer
I worked as a booker at a modelling agency. My most glamorous, vacuous, and least suitable job. This basically involved being yelled at by photographers, booking models on jobs, and attending social events with them. This meant hobnobbing with very famous, and sometimes very obnoxious people, and consuming very expensive food and drink. In order to save my soul, I made and sold T-shirts in markets around London with a friend. This was a time when I actually was asked to attend a party thrown by Justin Timberlake!?
3. Teacher and academic
Fashion was just not me. Inside I was still a nerd. I started to volunteer my skills at schools, and realized that I loved to teach, and learn. I studied pedagogy, researched about gender roles within Art and Design education, and really enjoyed working with middle and high-schoolers.
4. Stay at home Mommy
Settled in the suburbs with two kids and a husband. How on earth did that happen? Suddenly, I started feeling a real empathy towards my own mom. I have been known to spend hours in the sand box at my local park with my kids, smelling faintly of spit-up and banana, sporting unbrushed hair and cereal stains on my shirt. My gigantic purse would contain diapers, wipes, ointment, baby sunscreen, milk, snacks, two extra sets of clothes, a medical kit, no cell phone (I could never remember it) , and no mirror 🙂
5. Small business owner, blogger, artist, author and a bunch of other things.
Enough said. I’m still working on this phase.
Actually, after writing all that, maybe all of my different incarnations are not really the abrupt changes I thought they were. Yes, there is a pretty big difference between the ‘fashionista’ and ‘stay at home mommy’ lives, but I realize that a little bit of each phase is still with me.
I’m still pretty geeky (medieval history, and Harry Potter are pretty high on my list of interests), and I have a socialist streak. I still make Art, and am interested in fashion.
Okay, I don’t work with celebrities any more, or go to glitzy events, but I’m ok with that. I’ll definitely get back into teaching one day, misbehaving printers don’t phase me, and I LOVE playing in sand boxes.
So the cycle of lives has made me what I am. I just hope enlightenment is on the way.