Take Charge of Your Genius to Survive The Identity Crisis

Recently I watched the TED Talk “Your Elusive Creative Genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert talks about a problem we, as a universal society, have accepted; the concept of the emotionally unsound artist. Too many creative minds are distraught with deep, negative and destroying thoughts. Gilbert points out that this acceptance and numbness to this reality is wrong. There doesn’t have to be an “emotional risk” for creative minds.

In her TED Talk speech, Gilbert talks about how creative minds can and should keep moving forward with their work after the passing of what might be their biggest and only success. I thought Millennials and young professionals could easily apply Gilbert’s teachings from the TED Talk to the threat of an identity crisis.v We may not all have the emotional risk of being a creative mind, but we all do have the emotional risk of succumbing to the pressures of being a twentysomething emerging into adulthood.

As a young professional there are many pressures in our lives – career, finances, self-improvement, and personal lives. We can be negative about our current job, apartment, bank account, or whatever our current situation might be. We worry about the future. Asking ourselves, “Will I ever be successful?” “Will I ever make something of myself?” These are similar dark thoughts to that o father creative mind Gilbert refers to.

After what Gilbert calls her “freakishly successful” book, Eat, Pray, Love, many people would come up to her and ask,

Aren’t you afraid you’re biggest success is behind you and you’ll never be as successful ever again?”

Gilbert admits this is a terrifying thought and a very possible one. Twentysomething young professionals have a similar thought wondering how they will find a job, advance in career, find a husband/wife, how they will be able to afford things like a house, etc. It is possible we may fail and not knowing is absolutely terrifying. That’s the reality.

To find a way to move forward in her career Gilbert knew she needed to create a “protective psychological construct” to create distance between work and anxiety. I believe twentysomething young professionals also need to create this construct between themselves and anxiety.

In Gilbert’s search for finding a way to create this construct she looked back at past societies to see if they had a better way to deal with the emotional risk of creative minds. This search lead her to Ancient Greece and Rome. At this time people didn’t believe creativity came from within a human, they believed it came from the “divine attendant spirits of creativity.” They believed it was an out of body source or creature that came “from a distant and unknowable source for distant and unknowable reasons.” The Greeks called this creature a “deity” and the Romans called them a genius.”

When a performer had a moment where the genius would provide a glimpse of divinity through the performer the crowd would shout, “Allah! Allah!” “Allah” meaning God. Later, through the lost of pronunciation and culture, “Allah” became “Ole”. “Ole” is still something we shout today a sporting games when an athlete does something amazing or to support our favorite team. People used to understand where this talent, ability or creativity came from. The origin of the source was just lost over time. The Renaissance is where the idea of creativity coming from an inner source of the individual person came to be a new concept. Gilbert believes that is where we, as a society, went wrong.

If creativity does come from a genius and not somewhere within the individual then an immense amount of pressure is relieved. We also can’t be corrupted by pride if we cannot take credit for the talent(s). The good, or the bad, performance would be attributed to the genius. Everyone would understand that concept and accept it. The emotional risk would be taken away from the creative minds because they would not drown from the anxiety.

If we young professional can accept that there is an uncontrollable big picture we will be free from our pressures and anxiety as well. I personally believe my talents were given to me by God for a reason. I do not know the big picture, I cannot control what happens in my life, but I can use my talents to the best of their ability. For me, utilizing my talents and performing them to the best of their ability is my acceptance to the big plan and a thank you for receiving the talents. I accept i have no control or notion of what’s to come but i work as hard as i can with what I have. Whether you believe there is a genius, a gift from God or some other unknowable source, I believe acceptance is the key for young professionals to avoid their emotional risk and taking charge of their identity crisis.

After explaining the idea of having a genius, Gilbert goes on to explain different ways creative minds have dealt with this genius. Poet Ruth Stone told Gilbert about when she was younger and worked in the fields how she would literally feel the ground tremble beneath her. Every time Stone felt this tremble she knew it meant she needed to get to a piece of paper and pen fast. When the tremble caught up to her it felt like a windy storm was streaming through her. If she got to the paper and pen in time the poem would flow out through the pen and onto the paper. If she didn’t catch Stone said she felt the storm pass through her as it went off in search of another poet. During the moments when she almost lost the storm she would reach out with one hand as if to grab the storm by the tail and slowly pull it back in as the other hand wrote the words. Stone said that in these instances the poem would come out flawlessly, but completely backwards from the last word to the first.

Gilbert had a chance to interview musician Tom Waits for a magazine pieces years ago. Waits shared a story with Gilbert about one of his encounters with an outer body source. Waits said he would hear an enticing beautiful melody that would be his inspiration, his storm. One time he was driving down the freeway in LA when he heard this enticing melody. Waits anxiety started to creep up inside him again, worrying that he had no way to capture this melody and it would haunt him forever. Instead of allowing himself to be engulfed by his anxiety Waits looked up to the sky and said,

Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving? Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you, otherwise go bother somebody else today.”

Stone’s and Waits’ interactions with these out of body sources of inspiration helped change their work process for the better. They were able to release themselves from the emotional risk, the anxiety. They didn’t have to feel regret about missing moments to capture a poem or a melody. Gilbert said she herself was saved by this practice of interacting with the source. While writing Eat, Pray, Love she said she encountered one of these dark moments of anxiety and instead of succumbing to it, she took Waits’ approach. She spoke out loud towards a corner of the room about how if this book wasn’t a success it wasn’t entirely her fault. She showed up for her part of the job and she expressed how it would be great if the source or genius would show up for its part.

Millennials and twentysomething young professionals can change their work process and thought process by using these methods. I think the first step is to accept. Accept the reality that we do not have control and we do not know what the future holds. Then we each need to find an individualized way to deal with this reality any time anxiety and negative thoughts emerge. You can go with the talking out loud approach, or something different – praying, meditating or talking to a counselor.

Creative mind or not, be grateful for when your inspiration and your moment comes. When things finally align and you understand the big picture a little better, be grateful. Before, during and after your genius allows a glimpse of divinity to shine through you, show up to do you work. Show up every day and give it your all.

“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your effort then ole. And if not, do your dance anyhow and ole to you nonetheless. I believe this and I feel like I must teach it. Ole to you to you nonetheless just to have the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

How will you take charge of your genius to control your identity crisis?


6 Job Search and Application Tips

Summer is coming to a close and companies are starting they search for new hires. If you’re looking to apply to a job think about these 6 tips during your job search.

1. List What You’re Good At and What You Like

Before you start sending out applications to any hiring company, know yourself. List your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals and dreams. You’ll waste much less time searching aimlessly online when you know yourself better. You can be more specific in your job search to find a job and company that suits you.

2. Find Something That Suits You and Makes You Happy

Now that you are properly prepared you can start the search. Find a position you can succeed in. Even better, find a company you can support and advance in. Finding a company you can support will give your work meaning and purpose. You’re passion about your work will give you the drive to make an impression and advance through the field.

3. Gather Your Experience and Qualifications

Narrow down what experience and qualifications you have that apply to the job. Think about what you’ll use in your resume, cover letter and portfolio. Do you have any online presence you can included? Or other “outside of the box” qualifiers? You don’t need to list everything on a resume, only items that most apply to the position and create a story about you.

4. Find A Way To Stand Out

When that big pile of black and white resumes lands on the employer’s desk, how are you going to stand out? Will you stand out by the design of your resume? The story in your cover letter? An unique experience? Come up with something creative so you will be remembered.

5. Represent Yourself Correctly

Sometimes we can get caught up in the formality of the job search. Don’t lose yourself in all the paperwork. Make sure you’re presenting yourself in the right way. Don’t sell yourself short. Show some personality and what you can bring to the company. You can do this through what information you choose to share on your resume and cover letter; how you design your resume; and your online presence.

6. Complete The Process

You can find numerous articles and resources on how to create a resume, write a captivating cover letter, properly dress for an interview, and how to prepare interview question and answers, so I won’t dwell on that. Just remember when you are doing the professional thing, be the charismatic you. Show your true self. Let the interviewer get an idea of you are. Genuine personality is more attractive than dishing out answers you think they want to hear.

Today I will be posting more articles and tips on job searching, applying and interviewing on Ask the Young Professional’s Facebook page! Follow today! 

What other job search and application tips do you have?


Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

Related Articles:

3 Tips to Wake Up Better

Are you the type of person who repeatedly hits the snooze button in the morning? Or who could just sleep all day?

Here are three tips to get you up and going in the morning.

1) Put Your Alarm Clock Out of Reach

Moving your alarm clock to somewhere you can’t reach it will force you to get out of bed. This will prevent you from hitting snooze and turning back over under the covers. Try putting it under your bed or across the room.

2) Take a Shower in the Morning

Taking a shower in the morning can jolt you awake. I like to take a nice cool shower to wake me up. My Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub also helps wake me up. The little bursting scrubbing bubbles have a fresh tingling sensation that really helps my face to wake up. That’s my bonus jolt of energy for the morning, a shower can help with or with out the face wash.

3) Eat Breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Eating breakfast gives your body nutrients to get moving. It’s like putting gas in your car to get going. Running on low or no gas won’t get you far, and a quick gulp of coffee won’t get you through the day, just like a quick gas fill up won’t get you through your whole road trip.

These are three simple and easy tips o add to your daily routine. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Katie, this sounds like I’ll have to wake up even earlier, why would I want to do that?” Trust me, I never called myself a morning person, but I found myself more productive and awake by trying these three easy steps. I first tried waking up 5 – 10 minutes earlier to see how my day would go. My day was less hectic because I was on time. I wasn’t stressed running around trying to get ready in a rush and then hustle off to the next part of my day. Instead, my day started off calm and relaxing.

My Personal Morning Routine

My morning routine goes something like this… (I have to be to work at 9:30 and I’m about 45 minutes away.)

  • 7:30 Alarm clock goes off.
  • A quick morning prayer and/or read of my daily inspirational quote app.
  • Take a shower, brush teeth, all that good hygiene stuff !
  • Get changed, do make up, get pretty and awesome looking! Sometimes I put on a country music playlist in the background.
  • Make and have breakfast. It’s usually about 8:00-8:10 around this time.
  • 8:25 Start packing bag, putting on my shoes, grab keys, wallet and phone. I usually have my lunch in the fridge and key necessities in my bag ready to go.
  • 8:30 I’m out the door! Giving myself a little 15 minute window to be a little early or plan for the unexpected.

This is a normal daily routine for me when I’m going to the office. Some days I have time to sit and watch some morning television while I eat breakfast. Other days I make a breakfast sandwich or grab a granola bar for breakfast on the go. It all depends on how much I leave to do in the morning or how early I need to get into work.

Bonus Tip!

If you haven’t tried the app Sleep Cycle, download it! This app analyses your sleep cycle all night to wake you up during your lightest sleep. Waking up during your deep sleep cycle is probably the hardest thing to do. I love this app because I feel light and easy waking up instead of heavy eyes and a drowsy body.  If you use this app, you won’t be able to use tip #1. You need to have your phone charging and laying in your bed so the phone can run all night and analyse your body. I think it was free when I downloaded it, but now I think it’s a dollar. I think it is worth the try if your body really fights you hard in the morning.

Don’t think any of these tips will work? Try them for a week or at least once. Come back and tell me what you think!

How do you wake up in the morning? What is your morning routine?

Top 10 Management Tips

This blog is suppose to be all about sharing learning experience I’ve had and advice I have received from others . We can learn so much from others, especially from those who have been in the work field longer than us. For this reason I am going to share the top 10 management tips that have be revealed to me.

1. Accept that you will not be always “a part of the group”.

As you move up in your position there will be more be more people and outcomes you will be responsible for. It is natural for you to stray away from the group whether it is your intention or their’s. Keeping your workers’ respect and loyalty is most important, and this may cause a line of division socially between you and people who work below you.

2. Take responsibility of all your decisions.

Own your decisions. Make good purposeful decisions and follow them through, even if they fail.

3. Know why you told someone to do something or why you made a certain call.

Make each decision you make meaningful. Even the smallest decision should be motivated by a purpose. Also, be sure to share your reasoning with workers so they can trust and understand your leadership.

4. Be honest about your own mistakes.

Own up to your mistakes. It shows you are responsible and your workers will trust you. Trying to cover up your tracks will only make you look weak and unprofessional.

5. Get feedback.

Feedback is always good. You will hear what management practices have been working and how you can improve communication with workers. Feedback can only give you room for improvement for yourself and the work environment you have created.

6. Find your person to mentor. 

It is important to have someone to train. It is important not only because you will share knowledge that will help form someone else’s career, but it will also leave room  for you to move up. Having someone who is trained to move up to your position leave you free to think about how you can advance as well.

7. When giving constructive criticism be specific and make sure to listen.

Constructive criticism can be tricky. Be careful with your word choice. Get to the point and make sure you listen to their response.

8. When you encounter a problem try not to be reactive.

Instead of emotionally reacting to a problem be calm, cool and collected. Take emotion out of business and only deal with the solution, especially in time of a crisis. There will always be time to look back as to what caused the problem.

9. Be fair in giving direction and assignments.

Make sure you are evenly dividing work and being fair in enforcing the rules. Not everything needs to be completed right away and there is no need to micromanage.

10. Don’t be afraid of confrontation.

Confrontation will happen. You will have to make people unhappy. Listen to what he/she has to say but stick to your decision and explain calmly.


Do you agree or disagree with any of these tips? Or do you have any management tips you would like to add?

How to Get the Job

Resume? …Check!

Portfolio? …Check!

References? …Check!

Cover Letter? …Check!

Impressive Professional Outfit? …Check!

You have everything they told you was required… why haven’t you been hired?

Chances are you have all the content, but your writing might be why someone else is getting chosen over you.

Having the right qualifications, easy to read formatted resume and praised recommendations are all important necessities when applying, but the cover letter is what separates you.

Picture yourself as an employer. You have two twentysomething applications in front of you. Both are from Ivy League schools, have the same GPA and meet all the qualifications. You only have the budget for one new employee. Which one do you choose?

You choose the one who most resonates with you; the one who wedges his/her way into your memory; the one who told you a better story.

“A good story goes further in the twentysomething years than perhaps at any other time in life.” ~The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay (p. 62)

The cover letter is your opportunity to capture your future employer’s attention. Instead of telling a chronological explanation of your highlighted experiences and accomplishments, create an engaging story. Grasp their attention. Make them want to read your cover letter because it is different from the tens to hundreds sitting in the same pile.

Go back to the basic writing skills you learned in English class about a story arc. Do you remember this chart?

story arc

Try to use the story arc to tell your professional story. Be selective and share specific moments that can form pictures.

“As a twentysomething, life is still more about potential than proof. Those who can tell a good story about who they are and what they want to leap over those who can’t.” ~The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay (p. 62)

This was hard to hear the first time I read this. I was very proud of all my accomplishments in college. I thought my experiences set me up very well. To think my experience meant nothing kind of hurt… It took my pride away, but only for a moment.

I realized the point wasn’t that the experience gathered as a twentysomething was not important, but that it was more important to showcase traits that can be improved upon. 

When an employer is looking to hire a twentysomething most likely they are looking for someone to grow with the company. Someone who has the fundamentals to be a good employee. Someone who can listen to directions and improve over time. Someone who can be easily trained.

How can this be reflected in an a cover letter? It sounds like something that has to be demonstrated in person and perhaps over a period of time.

The answer is in the story. Your well written story will show that you have the two most basic, yet highly necessary skills needed of every employee; communication and reasoning.

Having good communication means you can receive direction, relay information, and express your own thoughts. Reasoning is important because it allows you to operate on your own and make key decisions. Having both these skills gives the employer something to start with, something with a success rate that can be molded into the long term employee they need.

In your story you can relay what type of person you are and what type of employee you can be. (I think both are important.) You can reason out how you can be a key aset to the company and how you want to grow.

“Stories that sound too simple seem inexperienced and lacking. But stories that sound too complicated imply a sort of internal disorganization that employers simply don’t want.” ~The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay (p. 62-63)

This is why I would suggest outlining your thoughts first. Organize them in a manor that pertains to the position and to each other. Then you can get a better handle of capturing the best illustration of yourself and keep it all on one page.

Take your time on your cover letter. Personalize them for each position you apply for. Select specific illustrated stories that most apply to the position. Get feedback (I’d love to help review your cover letter through email at asktheyoungprofessional@gmail.com).

This might not be your one chance, but it is probably your best chance to grab the attention of an employer.

I know I need to go back and update my cover letter. I encourage you to join me because it turns out our English teachers were right, our writing skills will always be important.

Related articles

How to Customize Your Life and Not Settle

  “You wouldn’t believe the jobs I can’t even get. I go for jobs and people just look at me like, ‘Why haven’t you done something by now?’ I wish someone had told me to think about my resume a long time ago.” ~31 year old female client of Dr. Meg Jay

“You can’t pull some great career out of a hat in your thirties. You’ve got to start in your twenties.” ~ 41 year old male client of Dr. Meg Jay, advice he wants his son to know when he is twenty.

Ian (the same client Dr. Meg Jay spoke of on the topic of a search for glory) was having trouble committing to a job for a couple reasons, not wanting to limit himself and not settling being the main reasons. Ian was led to believe he could do anything, so naturally Ian wanted something unique. He did not want to settle for the normal 9 – 5 desk job.

I have to admit, I was like Ian. I did not want to be limited or restricted to a desk either. It is part of the reason why I ended up as a film major.

I think it is common for twentysomethings to think this way, especially Millennials. We’re dreamers. We dream big and want to take part in something bigger. We want to be different by making a difference. Working a 9 – 5 desk job hardly feels like a way to fulfill that dream.

When talking to Ian about his hesitation to settle for the norm, Dr. Meg Jay had the following response…

“I’m not talking about settling. I’m talking about starting. Twentysomethings who don’t get started wind up with blank resumes and out-of-touch lives only to settle far more down the road. What’s so original about that?”

What’s so original about that? Nothing.

Still, it can be hard for twentysomethings to understand and accept this concept. In Ian’s case, Dr. Meg Jay found a way to get through to him by applying Ian’s passion of customizing his bike, to his life.

Ian’s main mode of transportation was his bike. He was not a dirt bike racer nor was he a mountain biker. He liked the customized bike because it was a way to convey himself to the world. He explained how he started with a generic bike and overtime he made the upgrades he wanted. After a while he got the result he wanted but he still has to put in some extra work to maintain the upkeep of a customized bike. To Ian the bike said that he was “a product of different parts, someone who cannot be defined by a label.”

Dr. Meg Jay took this opportunity to explain that…

“Ian’s life could be personalized and changeable, but it was going to take some time and effort – and he would probably need to start with some common parts. Having an uncommon life wasn’t going to come from resisting these choices, it was going to come from making these choices. Same as the bike.”

This resonated with Ian. He could picture starting somewhere and then being able to add parts to his career to get him to the uncommon life he wanted.

This is where the difference is. Ian was not settling; he was starting. We all need to start somewhere. Then we find the chances to customize our own unique life.

The best place to start is somewhere you have talents and an interest. In my next post we will talk about how to get started.

This starting process was true for me too. I got started by jumping on an internship at Sesame Workshop. Now I have a job as a Production Assistant. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the most basic entry level position in film and video. Nothing special about it at all and thousands of people do it. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful, I’m just saying that the position is not unique. It is the normal way to get started in the business. I now have the opportunity to learn new skills and experiences, the parts to my customized career. Maybe in the next year or so I can use those parts to make a bigger update with a change in position. Whatever happens, I cannot and could not make these changes without first starting as a Production Assistant  And I never would have been a Production Assistant if I didn’t start with an internship.

Hear what Ian had to say after he took a position in Washington D.C. as a digital designer…

“Above all else in my life, I feared being ordinary. Now I guess you could say I had a revelation of the day-to-day. I finally got it there’s a reason everybody in the world lives this way – or at least starts out this was – because this is how it’s done.”

This is how it’s done. Don’t settle, customize.


*All quotes from this post and this post series come from The Defining Decade and should be accredited to Dr. Meg Jay.*


Related articles