The flaws of focusing on one thing
Throughout my whole life, people have told me to choose one thing and focus on it. Whether that’s choosing one extracurricular activity, a major in college, and a career path, I’ve always abided by this rule but have internally struggled with the concept. Why do I have to pigeon hole myself into “one thing” when I’m interested in so many different things? It felt restrictive as if I was closing the doors to possible opportunities. As an adult looking back, this whole system feels somewhat wrong. The more I think about it, this rule seems like it was made up by people of power to mold other people into top notch resources they can utilize to grow their businesses.
Why do we have to choose majors in college when a liberal arts education is supposed to provide you with an opportunity to learn more about yourself? Let’s step back a little and think about the concept of grades. First of all, I think grades are pointless. Secondly, I think tests are even more pointless. And because our education system solely focuses on these two superfluous systems, children only learn to memorize and regurgitate information efficiently instead of thinking outside the box. But that’s not the worst part. They become so obsessed with the letters on their report card that they end up choosing to take classes that they already know they will excel at, instead of taking a class that actually interests them but might suck at. Eliminate any risk that can potentially lower the GPA. It’s a calculated strategy game to prove to someone else that they are in fact, worthy.
If I could go back to college again, I would do it very differently this time. I would stop obsessing about my grades and take classes to try to improve myself. As an introverted science-y type, my worst enemies are public speaking, writing, negotiating, and selling, which means I would take classes in all of those. Art has always had a special place in my heart so I would also take painting, sculpture, and architecture classes. I would put in a lot of effort into each class, but would not cry over a C+. The only thing that counts is if I learned something new, not if the professor thinks I’m talented or not.
Why limit myself to specialize in one career field, when there is a possibility that the industry I’m in can some day become obsolete? As a software engineer by day and a hodge podge creative by night, I may have learned more valuable skills at home than at work. I have to admit, my coding skills pay the bills but who knows for how long? I know a lot about how to write testable, clean code that is easily updatable and is also efficient to run, but will those niche skills matter when I get replaced by AI or engineers from India and China who are dirt cheap but work 3x as hard? Probably not.
On the other hand, I’ve learned so many lessons from my creative pursuits that I may not have learned from my cushy day job. I’ve learned how to protect myself from people trying to take advantage of my work and audience, the ways in which I can ensure people to pay me for my services, the importance of communication and continuous updates to provide peace of mind for my clients, cold calling and negotiating when reaching out to brands for partnerships. Yes there have been many ups and downs emotionally but I’ve always come out stronger and wiser on the other end. I’ve also learned cooking, video creation, painting, woodworking, photography, mixology all on my own. Anything that interests me becomes a new obsession.
What I’ve decided for myself going forward is to ignore the focus rule and to celebrate the fact that I am a multipassionate and lifelong learner. Honestly, I would rather be someone who can easily adapt to a new career and forge my own path so that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s time to stop suppressing your interests and submitting to being stagnant. Go out and jump into things that scare you, push the limits of your comfort zone, and go learn about every thing that excites you!