I’d asked her if I could come over and watch her make pies. She was known for making particularly good ones. It was her name, always, on the sign-up sheet next to a number like six whenever a quantity of pies was needed for a social gathering. Somehow, doing the very thing that made most other people cringe was what made her day: baking pies. I knew, even in my tween-age mind, that she was the one I should learn from next. Since I had a penchant for pie making, myself, I’d taken to standing beside anyone I could find who made them well. Watching and learning, I was fascinated by the way each woman would arrive at her finished pie in a slightly different way. Soon, it was my name next to a quantity of six when the sign-up sheet was passed around. What had started as an interest, had now become a skill.
Miles upon miles of chain stitch. That’s what came from my balls of yarn in my early younger years. My mother had taught my sister and I that foundational step of crochet, and chain-stitch we did. What seemed, in my mind at the time, and inordinately long expanse of time between learning chain stitch and learning the next step of single crochet, was in fact, an opportunity to get the sometimes tricky aspect of proper tension down pat. From single, to double, to triple crochet, and then on to knitting from there, maintaining proper tension was never an issue, thanks to those months-long miles of chain stitch.
Construction drawings, site visits, design plans, architectural history, design history, color theory, drafting, economics, business management, writing, communication - by early adulthood, the subjects of my interest had changed, but the way I gathered skills hadn’t. I still stood alongside those whose work I admired. Still repeated over and over the basic steps until I’d woven the feel of it into my muscle memory. Formally or informally, my education and experience came, filling the blanks, giving me something that I could, in turn, offer the world.
If you come to a day in your life when you feel out-of-pace with the world around you, like you’ve been somewhere else while all the other people have gained all the skills and experience, have the best to offer, and are doing all the things, stop right there. Take a moment. Then, go ahead and unpack the pockets of your person and examine what you’ve just laid out. Something of a personal skills and experience inventory, it is, I suppose. This is nothing like the employment history section on your resume; it’s much more telling than that, and, in a sense, more true. Make note of what you’ve loved to do from the time you were little. Make note of what that became as an adult. Notice the underlying skills and experience you've acquired in your profession, as well as the obvious ones. Notice what do you well (and love to do). Notice what you became adept at in what you thought was a side interest or hobby.
Look at this rich compilation. This is you. This is what you already have, a wealth of transferrable skills, experience, and insight. Take it up and apply it anew to what you currently do, or put it into a different context entirely. Re-fuel yourself with your already-won strengths and abilities.
Do what you can with what you have.