Joyce Of All Trades
The thing about learning is...the more you dive in, the more you realize there is to learn.
I was a learning sponge as a kid. I made everyone read my books to me over and over, completely rapt every time. I walked around looking at plants and bugs (from a safe distance of course). I loved art, and writing, music, and science. I loved homework and projects and book reports because I learned so much in the process. I wore my Millet public library card out (mostly on science fiction and Garfield comics). I latched onto dance. I learned to ice skate (like all Canadian kids, because it's mandatory), and swim, and make friendship bracelets, and tell jokes. I memorized movies and repetitive commercials. I learned to cook and hand sew, and play sports, and make mix tapes. I learned to be charming in different ways around different people: cool kids, older cousins, dance peers, teachers, friends' parents. I loved and still love fun facts, and finding self deprecating ways to make people laugh, and books.
In my early 20's, I learned the phrase "Jack of all trades; master of none". It crept into my subconscious--a nice thick root for my worthiness issues to take hold of and run with. "Oh no," I subconsciously thought:
"I didn't train far enough in dance or music to be successful."
"I never learned any Tagalog, or how to surf, or play guitar."
"It's too late. I'm f**ked."
It never sounds as whiny as it truly is when it's casually drifting in your mind.
What an insane thing to be afraid of--not knowing enough.
Not being specialized enough; not picking up a dozen other strategic skills in a finite amount of adolescence; not honing a talent enough to be at prodigy-level. Like it's too late to learn the things you're still interested in. Like being the best at something is the only way to enjoy that thing. What a crock of baloney.
I believed it though. I still occasionally fall into the trap.
The truth is, if I had spent less time worrying about the choices I'd made and how they didn't live up to arbitrary standards, and spent more time just learning, I would have made a lot more progress, in literally any skill or field I desired.
When every new ability or thread of information is treated as a chore, or a sad amateur hour, the learning process slows, and your mind swiftly becomes cluttered with shitty old beliefs instead of cool new ideas. The world needs the latter, and definitely not the former.
Today I had another acting gig with CreatorUp, got a green light to write a new article for Dance Plug, learned a couple more chords on the ukulele, played frisbee for an hour at the park, and sang karaoke while I organized my bathroom drawers. In a half hour I took to update my Instagram profile 'highlights' (the circular buttons with archived stories), I flipped through my stories from the past year. My archive was filled with dances, songs, drawings, recipes, workouts, costumed characters, travel, and links to stuff I've written. For the first time (in maybe all of my adult life), I realized that I'm a Joyce of Many Trades, and it suits me. I would much rather be constantly learning everything I'm interested in than obsessing over one form of expression or one exclusive goal. I would much rather be in many phases of mastery than one. Most importantly, I am allowed to hold as many art forms and sciences and skills in my heart as I feel suits me, as mastering one of them is not 'the goal'. Delicious, endless learning is 'the goal'. It's the way I want to live. And if that means taking up ukulele and hydroponic gardening while exploring film school options in 2020, so be it. I no longer see myself as a lost, forever 'late blooming', master of 'none'. I see myself as happy, and diverse, and open to the life in front of me: a life of endlessly crossed mediums and fused genres and evolving forms of inspiration.
"Not knowing" should never be a blockade to starting the learning process. It simply is never too late. We put so much emphasis on the deftly honed skill or fully realized brand that we often fail to realize that there are little delights in every phase of the learning journey. Just stumbling through a song on the ukulele after less than an hour of practice gave me enough dopamine to honor the day. Because life isn't all tallied points and checked boxes. It's a creative, evolving learning experience, made human by our expression of it.
Wherever you're at on your learning journey with the things you love, whether it's handstands, or photography, or botany, or creating online content: embrace where you are, and embrace the unique hobbies, skills, body of work, and experiences that set you apart, even if you're still a novice in some of them.