Life is a constant learning process. And one thing I’ve found as I carry on through life, is that it often seems that I’m riding a giant pendulum. Much like swinging on the play ground set, it’s rhythmic, nearly hypnotic, and as the world floats by you, it all seems so different, depending on where you are in your arc.
When I first discovered my love of learning, I thought “Specialization is for insects. The world needs more generalists.” More than a decade later, I still like to dabble, but more and more I find that specialization is where I need to focus my efforts. After all, no one wants to be “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Was my ten-year old self wrong in desiring to know a little something about everything? Well, no, not from my perspective at least. Throughout my adolescent years, I learned a great deal about perspectives, and how useful it is to be able to shift that perspective. There is no value in being didactic.
However, perhaps now that I’ve learnt enough to map my knowledge, assess my weaknesses and strengths, and obtain more detail where necessary, the pendulum has swung to where I am in the process of truly plumbing the depths of specific fields.
I used to be very certain I would spend my life alone. Mine was an intellectual life, there would be no illogical emotional attachments, there would simply be physical and emotional alliances, to be easily dissolved without retribution when the need passed. Yet here I am, married to a man who I scarcely understand at times, and the love I have for him is totally unsupported by logic.
I used to try to impress people. I liked to hear them ooh, and tell me how smart I was, how talented, how mature. I did this to reassure myself that I was impressive, though I never could quite manage to impress myself. Recently I have come to try to examine my decisions in a vacuum. If this were a completely anonymous action, how would I handle it? If no one could ever know I did it, would I still do it?
One of my greatest faults is that when I do something, I want to do it big. It’s not enough for me to succeed with the small things, and if god forbid, I should fail, I want it to be because I fell off the face of Everest, not because I stumbled over a mole hill. If I’m honest, I will admit that this is because I want people to think more highly of me for trying for big things. Admittedly, as faults go, it’s like one of those ones you put on your job application; kind of faux-self-deprecating.
But do I want to be the type of person that succeeds in order to preen for the cameras? That’s a pretty self-defeating way to go about success. It’s kind of cold comfort to succeed when everyone told you you couldn’t do what you did and you did it anyway. I know, I have many such victories.
I want to be the type of person who sets her sights high because it doesn’t occur to her to aim any lower, and I want to succeed because I had a determination to conquer a skill, acquire a specialty, complete a worthwhile goal. I want to be a person who measures her success not against the mean, but against her own personal best. What might that person achieve?
Here is my nomination for the all-time most inspirational quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Let there be light.