I grew up hearing the phrase “you never stick with anything, what’s the point” a lot. I’ve always been attracted towards seemingly disconnected interests, and gone through phases of being really into something. But eventually my interest would fade and I would move onto something else.
Or at least that’s always how it’s been phrased for me, by others. Now I realize that my interest for the old thing didn’t fade so much as my interest for something new outshined it, and that’s vastly different.
I was always made to feel bad about it, with every abandoned endeavour I was told I needed to stop starting things if I wasn’t going to stick with them. I was told I was wasting time and money picking up these random interests and abandoning them after a year.
So eventually, I stopped picking things up. I told myself “what’s the point, I’m going to give up in a year anyway”. Even worse, I started dismissing every new interest, because I had no way of knowing if my interest was “real” enough or just another passing phase. I stopped trying new things, I stopped looking up stuff that piqued my curiosity, and having chronic depression made it really easy to leave everything on the dirty floor of neglected ideas. The more they piled up, the more depressing it was. All these things that could be nice, but I just can’t take care of them.
I realize now how bullshit that kind of thinking is. So what if I stopped doing karate after a year? That’s one more year of karate than most people I know. And in that year I learned discipline, I learned to listen to a teacher, something I had never done before in all my years of private education. I learned the true meaning of respect, that it’s something you do out of faith at first and maintain as it’s reciprocated, not something you do blindly and regardless of how you’re treated.
It gave me the foundation for the determination and grounding I needed to practice yoga. Another year. Not enough to be good at it maybe, but again a year more than most people I know and a year that is not lost, but gained. I learned balance, I learned to listen to my body, I learned how to let go of emotional tightness through physical stretching.
And then iaido, only a few weeks because I couldn’t afford to keep going. The year of yoga I had done a couple years previous had given me a better starting point than the other newcomers to the class. I already had balance, I had strength in my legs and I had better posture. In those months I learned the importance of precision, the true definition of efficacy, the zen state that is incessant repetition.
Did I practice long enough to get good at iaido, and yoga, and karate? No. Of course not. It takes years to become proficient and decades to master any of those things, but I learned other skills and those skills were an invaluable part of my growth both spiritually and emotionally. Likewise for my forays into painting, sewing, graphic design, film. I’m a photography student now heading into my second year of school, and every single second of practice I have in those other disciplines has given me more experience in those areas and made learning easier.
Skills carry over. They intersect and connect in ways that are sometimes unexpected. Nothing is ever lost, experience is never a waste of time or worthless or stupid. Allow your focus to wander, reflect on what you learn, and consider how you can keep using it in other aspects of your life. Stop telling people their interests aren’t worth their time.
‘A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one’
^^^^The real jack of all trades quote if anyone’s i interested.
For a week I was super into making LED arrays.
For a few months I was really into costume makeup.
For a year I was into sewing clothes
For a few months I was into sculpting and molding and casting
I’ve always had a sustained interest in animals, but the hyperfocus on birds in particular made me very familiar with feather formations.
Couple months I loved the idea of engineering moving sculptures.
Add all that together, and hot diggity shit, that’s some SOLID basework for making costumes, cosplay, and other impressive props.
For a week I was into welding and took a welding class.
A year of interest in woodworking and fiddling with the tools means I’m fairly good at that as well.
Add that to the engineering from earlier and the focus on balance and stable structures means I can make my own furniture – Couches, shelves, desks, just give me the material and tools and I can make it happen.
Brief interest in business law meant two classes taken in college, and an accidental qualification for a business degree.
Those same classes let me point out some serious litigation bait in a friend’s startup company.
A wide array of interests means I also have a TON of little nitpicky facts about how the world works, which translates into amazing immersive writing.
I know how it feels to use a chisel, and the delicate precision of electronics. I know the smell of forests and barns and old yarn being put to use again. The bloody smell of a freshly slaughtered chicken, and the anticipatory fear moments before skydiving.
The pattern of a bad weld and a good one, and the careful calculation of load bearing walls when building underground.
Anyway, this world is HUGE and really cool. Why on earth would I want to stick to learning ONE thing, when there’s HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of things I could learn?
Learn all the things. Satisfy your knowledge dragon. ❤