Dear Vicki: This isn’t exactly a relationship question, but I really need help. I’m 23 and just finished my Masters program. I recently began reading about the Five Elements and took a test where I scored very high in Water and 30 points lower in Metal. I feel that I understand myself better, but now I’m disheartened. As a child I loved painting and writing, but my parents told me that my artistic side was useless and I should focus on something else. So I put those aside and took a degree in international development, anthropology, and political science hoping to help society. My concern is that I don’t feel very connected to my Water element anymore, but have chosen a career path that doesn’t appear to mesh with my inner Water personality. I’m looking for work now and trying to figure out my life. Can I use my Water in ways that will help with my professional goals, or are Waters just meant to be artists? Also, is there a way to focus on my less dominant Metal traits and increase them so I feel more comfortable using my educational skills? This has really thrown me and I feel bogged down by the negative traits of both my Water and Metal. I guess I’m asking if I can be more than my primary element. Signed: Lost Graduate
Dear Lost Graduate: Thank you for writing. This is a relationship question – it’s about the relationship between our primary and secondary elements. That’s something we all deal with, and when we understand their interaction tendencies, we better understand ourselves. Also, please remember that while written tests are excellent tools, they reflect where you are at the time you take the test. For example, if someone close to the test taker has just died, the test taker could be in a more Metal place than usual and answer the questions through that filter. This could make them seem like a primary Metal, which may or may not be accurate. The best way to truly know your elemental make-up is through ongoing observation of yourself and the way you move through life.
So, let’s start with your last question: Can you be more than your primary element? Yes! Remember that we have all five elements in our wiring. That means that we can, and do, draw on each element at various times and to different degrees every day. You are more than just Water. According to the test you took you’re a secondary Metal, and based on your stated desire to help society, I suspect your third is likely a healthy dose of Earth. Both Water and Metal tend to be loners, but Earth is all about close connections with others. This will make it easier for you to connect with the right people to support your career goals. Earth is also all about balance, and balance is going to help you manage the apparent contrasts between Water and Metal (endings vs. beginnings, flow vs. structure, etc.). The fact that Water and Metal relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle also tells us that your primary and secondary elements can work well together.