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I really wanted the job.
I don’t remember what company was offering the job, but the position was “Analyst.”
The interview was going well, I thought, until they asked a question I still think about to this day. It went something like this:
“You’re an art dealer. You have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter an art museum in which there are 100 pieces of art. You get to choose one piece to keep for yourself. Your goal is to find the most valuable piece of art in the gallery. The catch: You can only go through the museum once, and you can never go back to a piece. How do you choose which piece to bring home?”
This job was an analyst position, right? I figured they wanted to watch me analyze something. And boy, did I analyze the heck out of this question.
I told them that I would look at the first 10 pieces and estimate an average price. Then, I would look at the next 10 and see how many of those pieces were above the average. And then I said something about choosing a piece that was a certain standard deviation away from the median of the averages of the….well, the rest of my rambling answer went something like that.
The hiring team waited patiently as I finally wrapped up. They said, “You’re an art dealer. You know great art when you see it.”
With this single question, the hiring team could gauge if I would immediately jump to a mathematical solution when there was a simpler answer available: trust myself.
Would I overthink things? Or would I feel the answer?
I didn’t get the job, unsurprisingly. But something cracked open within me that day—like the first peck an unborn chick gives to its egg home.
Over the years, I’ve shared this question many times with friends and family. I like to see how they answer it. A lot of people say, “I don’t know,” but now and then, someone jumps right to the obvious and says, “I’m an art dealer, aren’t I?” It stuns me that some people’s brains work that way from birth. I usually then decide I want more of that person in my life, as they beautifully complement my Yang (logic) with their Yin (intuition).
I grew up honing my masculine side (reason, structure, organization, linear thinking) and slighting my feminine (intuition, flow, creativity, insight). My parents supported this, particularly my dad, who was himself in the business world. He liked that he could offer me advice, which I often sought when I had questions or problems in the business world.
My dad helped me think through issues with a detached, linear lens. For example, when I was teased in school, he walked me through a game-plan. He didn’t spend time on the emotional or healing aspect—those things aren’t in his wheelhouse, and I wouldn’t have expected it.
When my oldest daughter was about six months old, I received an attractive job offer with good pay and even childcare (I must’ve done better at this interview). But I struggled with whether to take the job or stay home with my daughter.
“Draw up a pro-con list,” my dad suggested over the phone, and I dutifully pulled out a piece of paper and pen. But I couldn’t do it. It seemed ridiculous to decide something this life-changing by counting up tics on a sheet of paper.
I’d grown up believing that if you face a problem, get it down on paper and start working your way through it. For the first couple of decades of my life, this worked fine.
In the early years of raising my girls, I relied heavily on doctors and books, with their logical steps and reasonable solutions. I was obsessed with measuring my girls’ monthly progress against the “baseline”—and then either worrying or celebrating as appropriate.
But occasionally, a softer, quieter voice would speak up from within me, and I would trust that my daughters needed this and not that, and it didn’t matter what someone in authority said—I knew what I knew about how I felt.
I owe most of the opening of my intuition and self-trust to my time in the yoga, spiritual, and healing communities, where the crack became a gap, and eventually, a true window to shine my feminine side through. With that new light, I reminded myself that I’ve always appreciated the arts—reading, writing, imagining. I acknowledged that I would prefer to read a fairy tale over a profit and loss statement. It felt good to finally accept this truth and stop living against the grain of my true self—my true feminine self.
I reflect on my childhood sometimes and wonder about the path I might’ve walked had I been encouraged to explore more of my feminine side at a younger age. But in my family, masculine energy—which was about drive, will, thought, and reason—was the energy we used to survive.
Recently, I mentioned to a couple of friends that I used to be a computer programmer. They couldn’t imagine me being that left-brain dominant. But for people who knew me only back then, I’m sure they’d be surprised at the person I am now. My politics may be moving further left over the years, but my energy is moving further right.
More and more, I’ve awakened the feminine in me—the energy that creates, imagines, inspires, and moves from a place of intuition and self-trust. From this place, I know that a problem can’t always be solved with an equation, and the best solutions don’t always arise from thinking it through.
My masculine side will always be strong within me. I still love a good, clean spreadsheet. But the voice of my intuition has grown more trustworthy, and trusting myself has become more intuitive.
Someday soon, the feminine in me will grow into full-blown crone energy. A crone, I can imagine, who wouldn’t analyze that interview question 10 ways to Sunday. She’d simply reply, “Christ, I’m an art dealer, aren’t I? I think I can find a piece of great value without having to analyze the sh*t out of it.”
Or better yet, she’d bellow, “Find the most valuable piece, you say? Alright, when and if I find something that has value in my eyes, I’ll take it.”
I’ll be her, someday. I know it, intuitively.