Monday, April 8, 2013

To be a polymath

I've got a beef. Not a big beef, just a little niggling, I-keep-thinking-about-it-and-want-to-get-it-off-my-chest beef.

I love to learn and I love trying new things. My skill levels vary across a multitude of areas - but all things which interest me or have interested me at some point.

At the moment I'm studying British Sign Language and Psychology - because I've wanted to learn sign language since I was about fourteen and because I read psychology text books for fun so I figured I may as well keep reading them and work towards a qualification at the same time.

I've also done a lot of different jobs. I've been the CEO of a not for profit organisation that I set up because I saw a clear gap in support for GBLQQTTI youth living in Calgary.

I've worked in administrative roles, done project management, and been a fundraiser. During all this time I've expressed my creative side in various ways. I sculpt, paint, and draw. I make costumes. I paint custom shoes. I've also been employed as an animator and gone on to do some animations as personal projects.

Since moving to London I've begun flexing my design muscles and this year I am officially a professional graphic designer, working as an artworker on the comms team at a charity and doing freelance logo design, among other things.

I am a writer and have been since I was physically capable of it. I've written several young adult novels and most recently wrote my very first non-fiction book. I learn by doing and decided I'd do my own layout and formatting of this book to build on my design skills and because it's something else I can add to my super fantastic list of life accomplishments.

Now here's my beef:
I tend to get called a 'Jack of All Trades'. That's fine, but the unspoken second half of that phrase is 'Master of None', which implies a certain failing on the part of the individual. Like, sure, you do a lot of stuff but you're not particularly good at anything.

This is a beef for me because I get told I shouldn't showcase so much of what I do. That I should only put one or two things out there. But all these things show the diversity of my skill, the flexibility of my style and the variety of ideas I have. It's also not to say I haven't mastered anything. The Miscellaneous Youth Network is a thriving organisation. I don't feel the need to still be involved or to set up another not for profit. I did it, successfully.

Sometimes it's not about reaching mastery. There's nothing wrong with dabbling just for the sake of trying something out. Or I have gotten the foundation in place so I can spend the rest of my life mastering it because some things change and grow so much and so fast that learning is constant. For example, my ongoing creative projects all feed into my design work - and anyone in the design industry will tell you it's always growing and changing. I am improving every day and I wouldn't have the flexibility that I have if I didn't explore multiple mediums.

I'm going to be 28 soon. As someone under thirty I realise I'm still considered utterly youthful and inexperienced. I know I have a lot to learn - but not because I'm young - because life is full of constant discovery. There is so much to do and learn and life is shorter than we realise. I want to be eighty and still have a lot to learn and still have the passion and drive to go do it.

Call me a Jack of all Trades if you like, but for me life would be utterly boring if I only got better at doing one thing. I like to think I'm a master of life and if life is about growing and doing and experiencing - then I figure I'm doing pretty damn good. 

All that being said, this past week I finished painting this spiffy pair of shoes:

Finished laying out the first draft of my book:

handed in my first psychology assignment three weeks early,
and completed four more briefs for my current clients.

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