Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dragon, Fish, and Chameleon in the Middle

Recently, I read a magazine advertisement by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Please put aside that this is a boring big 4 (or is it 5 or 6) accounting firm. The ad features a woman (in accounting?), Gail Vennitti, a principal at the company, explaining how her placement in the family line up – middle child – make her well-suited for her job. This is exciting to me. I am also a middle child, and most of the time the connotation of being in the middle is not good. To complicate matters, I was boring in the year of the Dragon, under the zodiac sign of Pisces, and on the Day of the Aerialist. I am by all accounts a dreamy-eyed wandered. Yikes! Who the heck am I???

Gail takes a unique spin on her middle child attribute. As middle children, Gail and I have at one time or another had to be all things to all people. We have to negotiate in a variety of situations – sometimes were the older child, and sometimes we’re the younger child. We are forced to be empathic; to operate in an ever changing world. We fight to be individuals, though recognize the value of being part of a group. In short, we grow comfortable with ambiguity at an alarming rate. Like chameleons we change ourselves to suit our situation, never once being disingenuous. We change when change is needed.

To complicate matters, my Piscean sign and Chinese year make me equally interested in art and science, with an intense imagination and a fierce sense of love and loyalty to causes and people I care about. I have passionate opinions, and love beautiful things. I have a somewhat split personality – there never seems to be an end in what interests me. I can fit in with a batch of surgeons, and in the same breathe address a crowd of cartoonists.

I used to be embarrassed by all of this. I wondered why I could never seem to have one defining interest, and people nearly always seemed confused by my dual-nature. As I get older, like Gail, I am beginning to see my duality as a bonus. It’s the ability to live in the world of the imagination with my feet firmly on the ground that I hope will ultimately lead toward a fulfilling and rewarding life with tangible results that at one time could only be dreamed of.

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