Episode 45: Learning to Thrive as a Multi-Passionate Creative with Summer Kelly

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Learning to Thrive as a Multi-Passionate Creative with Summer Kelly

Episode 45


Do you feel like there was something wrong with you because you can't choose one passion? Last month it was photography, this month its digital design? Then you are multi-passionate and it's time to embrace it.

I sit down with a woman who epitomizes the word multi-passionate: Summer Kelly. A mother, researcher, educator, budding photographer, and so much more. After trying to fit a model of success that required her to deny who she is, Summer is defining success on her own terms.

If you remember nothing from this episode, remember this: Stand in the light of what you do well. Thank you Summer.


Summer’s Journey (and Lessons) through Education

  • How getting laid off from a job that Summer was excelling in reminded her “I felt defeated. I felt like I gave so much of myself to this place. It changed the way I worked for the rest of my life. I was able to take it personal, but not personally.”

  • “If you don’t like what you’re doing, stop doing it. It’s very simple. Unfortunately, it took me 8 years at one place to figure that out.”

  • “You have power. Even though you’re not the CEO, whatever you do you can master that space and own that space.”

  • "Network. My relationships with folks has gotten me here today. If people trust you, if you’ve made them feel like you’re trustworthy then they are more willing to take chances with you. Even if you don’t have the exact skillset and expertise in the area, they trust that you will get better as it goes. Other people saw things in me that I didn’t see.”

Summer’s Honest Take on Identity, Creativity, and Motherhood

  • “Your babies come and your time is gone. As soon as your baby is here, you priorities shift. My priority shifted over night and I rearranged my entire life from how I lived before.”

  • “It took me a long long long time where I’m understanding who I am again.”

  • “You get so immersed in your children that you lose a big ole chunk of yourself. It’s really hard to figure out who you are anymore other than being a mother. I’m a mom, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I was really into pole dancing and I had little stomach muscles. Then I got pregnant. I might go back but is it essential to me being me, I don’t know. So as a mother, how do I ensure I’m spending my time in a way that is beneficial to me, and to my children, and to my husband.”

Why Summer Defines Herself as a “Scanner” and Why That Title Was Hard to Embrace

  • “I am definitely a Scanner. I do feel like it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that. I’ve always been surrounded by people who just always know. I was operating from the deficit model, thinking something was wrong with me, because I cannot choose. These people are 10, 15 years in their career and I just changed my mind about what I want to do yesterday. I was operating from a deficit model which was a detriment for so many years trying to figure out what was wrong with me instead of standing in the light of what I do well. Now, I’m the flower in the right sunlight.

How Summer Re-Embraced Her Innate, Creative Talents

  • “Photography has been a hobby for my entire life. I had to recognize where I had talent because I was really hard on myself. It’s a place where I find a lot of joy. It feels effortless and it feels joyful to share these photos with people so they have memories of themselves, their families, or an occasion.”

  • Summer shares her incredibly diverse loves of photography, reproductive education and justice, and reading. She’s a perfect example of what it looks like to embrace all your interests, your critical mind, and your love of many loves.

  • “There were so many instances where I had an idea, did nothing with it, and then saw someone else taking the initiative

  • “While I don’t know where I’m headed professionally, I feel like I’m about to graduate high school. I am on the precipice of graduation.”

Summer’s Take on The Beauty of Being an Amateur (One my of Favorites!)

  • Summer celebrates the beauty of being an amateur: “You don’t have to be an expert and that is so refreshing. I feel like the things you do have expertise in or studied, I feel very close to those things so it’s harder for me to take feedback. Whereas something like photography, I’m like “Yeah, I’ll take that feedback I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” I just feel so less defensive of the work.”

How Summer Is Defining Success on Her Own Terms

  • “The greatest surprise about myself is defining success for myself. I was defining it based on what other people did. I had a ginormous comparison problem to the point where my husband said you have to stop doing this. I’ve been in these environments, Ivy league schools and I’m comparing myself to friends wondering where did I go wrong. I do not understand why these opportunities are not presenting themselves to me. I’d go home and I’d talk about people getting awards or on TV. I got stuck thinking “Where am I going wrong.” I had to take a step back and ask what does success look like for me.”

  • “Success for me looks different. I want to live in a world where we’re working as a community to build each other up. To see the value in the people that are around you. To be with your community and to help each other. I want to live in a space where I’m helping someone’s life easier today.”

  • Summer’s incredible advice for the other multi-passionate creatives who are not sure what to do with all your incredible energy: “I’d steal from Nike: Just Do It. It sounds so simple and I know that it’s not. But if I had just done it 10 years ago, where would I have been now? If you’re out there doing it, and somebody sees you doing it, even though you’re not at the level you want to be it, they might find value in where you are and then they pay you for it.

Books Mentioned

intro and outro music: danosongs.com

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