Jane of All Trades

Success is neurologically determined by one’s ability to stay focused on a task.  (TNT’s Perception)


Now, I don’t know if this is actually scientific theory, or if the writer of TNT’s Perception made up something that sounded like it could make a good theory (it does). Whatever the reality, the quote struck me. I mean, it really stayed with me to the point that I texted Pen with the quote, along with, “I’m so screwed.”

Apparently, successful people have the following trajectory (at least once they decide what they want):

Here’s my trajectory:


I think I might see the problem. I used to think that my knack for doing fifteen different things at once was a sign of me being well-rounded. I might have been hedging my bets a little, too– it seems logical that if you send out a lot of little “feelers” into the world, one is bound to hit for you.  Evidently, this is not the way of a successful person. They have one goal, and they direct all their energies at that one goal.

It brought to mind a girl on my freshman hall in college.  Like many people in my dorm, she came into college with a high school sweetheart who she planned on marrying and would be going to med school. Unlike the vast majority of the people in my dorm, that goal didn’t change after two months… or four months… or four years.   Today, she is a doctor. And unless my post-campus grapevine is incorrect, she married her high school sweetheart (and is still married to him). She knew with absolute certainty what she wanted.  She pursued it to the exclusion of all other options.

I know you want me to tell you that she woke up one morning with a mid-life crisis about all the opportunities not taken, but I don’t think she has. Of course, I’ve only seen her once in 20 years, so I don’t know that for certain, but I think she’s exactly where she wanted to be.  I envy that certainty.

I am still that person who looks around her and says, “Ooooh I could do this! And this! And that’s interesting! I should do that.”   I kind of like that about me (except for the “should do” part– “should” still takes up too big a part of my life).  And yet, my willingness to dabble with scattered interests isn’t the most useful aspect of my personality. I’m never going to hit that 10,000 hour rule to make myself an expert at anything other than my old profession– which, unfortunately, is an expertise I don’t value.

I am a writer.  I am writing. Great! But what would determine success for me is a much blurrier concept. Writing does not pay my bills. If it did pay my bills, I might think of that as a small success. Some of my writing has had a positive impact on people.  That is gratifying. Do I count that as a success? Is it a big enough one to grant me the opportunity to open the work up to a broader audience? We’ll see. But at the moment, I’m that starburst– hurling pieces of myself out into the universe hoping for something spectacular to happen (or even useful… useful would be good, too).


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