I know I have been quite a few places over the past few weeks, but hey it was my birthday month! This weekend I got the chance to visit the exquisitely unique island of Antigua. Having been to quite a few islands in the Caribbean, I must say that each one of them is surprisingly very different, even though they are also so close in proximity. Antigua turned out to be one of the more chill places (in comparison to Jamaica or Trinidad (which I haven't been yet, but I hear they party hard)). The people there are so easy going and relaxed. I really can't blame them. One of the best beaches I've personally ever been to seemed to have a completely body numbing and mind-altering effect. While away from NYC, I do like to take the chance to reevaluate my life. I like to come up with new fresh ideas, see the world from different perspectives, and try to incorporate my experiences into useful anecdotes to motivate myself and others. This time around, I seemed to take an interest in what people on the island did for a living. I've always been curious about occupations in small towns and communities. A lot of people seem to try and find a skill they are good at, cultivate it over the years, and stick to that. Especially in closely knit places, people can end up doing the same one thing for years and years, never having a need or desire to do anything different (the town doctor, the town lawyer, the town butcher, etc.). I've never really been one of those people. I want to do a million things all the time. I can never choose just one outlet of self-expression. But is it ever really possible to be a master of all?
It's often very hard for me to pinpoint things that I'm good at, let alone great at. I've never really focused on the "getting good" part, I mainly focus on "the rush of trying something new" part. It's much easier to pick out things that spark my interest rather than hold it. Many people I have shared my views with have frowned upon this method of living. They say I need to pick one thing and stick to that. I never really understood why people were trying to limit my life experiences. "But I'm a Jack of all trades!" I would say (even though I do prefer the term polymath...or genius). One day, I was introduced to the second part of that saying... "Jack of all trades, master of none." It's not exactly a compliment! Some people have it in their minds that spreading your skill set too thin across an array of areas detracts from the expertise or mastery, you could have in just one specific area. Is this true? Probably. But who's to say which is better or worse? Would you rather know everything there is to know about America and nothing of the rest of the world or be at least generally well versed in a number of global issues? Is it better to only have one child and give them all of your love and attention, or have many and spread as much love and attention as you can amongst them all? Do these things even relate? Of course they do. Everything is connected! At least this is what I tell myself when I try and validate all of my many endeavors. I have many brain children that I have to share all of my attention with!
I think the main problem with JOATing (Jack of all trades-ing. Oh snap, did I just make up a new slang term??), is when we try to move on to the next thing without getting a full grasp on the previous thing. It's not necessarily about mastering a subject before moving on, but about understanding that learning is a continuum. Taking one singing lesson and trying to make an album is quite a bit of a reach. A beginners cooking course from Groupon should not make me have Wolfgang Puck style delusions of grandeur. I don't think anyone can know EVERYthing about any one subject, but there are certainly different levels of knowledge in each field. To be excellent at one thing is awesome, and can open many doors for specific careers and achievements. To be great at many things will also open up its own set of doors. I may not ever be the next Misty Copeland, but that doesn't mean that I will never be a great dancer in my own regard (and guess what, I am a great dancer in my own regard).
The word "mastery" is also a bit off-putting to people like me. What is mastery anyway? Who decides when we have become a master at something we are doing or learning? Is it the number of years we've been doing it? Is it how well we do it in comparison to everyone else? Mastery, like a lot of things, can be subjective at times. Just because one HAS been doing something all of their life doesn't mean that they've mastered it. A person could be completely passionless about something they've done for years and years. Where's the mastery in that?
Accomplishment is truly a great feeling. It feels amazing when you pass milestones of learning when developing your craft. It's also great to receive recognition and accolades for working hard at what you love. I believe this is why people strive to perfect what they do in order to excel in specific fields. It's quite easy to condemn others for taking a different path to their own version of success. I do think I will always have the urge to do a bunch of different stuff in this life. This is one reason why I try to focus on writing a lot. Writing can totally be all encompassing (even though some people still say I need to have a target audience or niche market). I also enjoy the video documentation aspect. I can still do everything I want to do, but writing and recording it seems to categorize what I do just a bit, which makes me feel not SO all over the place (even though I'm still very much all over the place). Hilariously enough, whenever I do travel out of the country, I never know what to put on my customs form when it says "occupation". I'm pretty sure I put something different every time. Anywho! These are just some of my thoughts on the matter. There is still so much more to be said. What are your thoughts? Are you a Joat like me or focused on one skill? Are you curious about the opposite way of living? There is no wrong answer, and don't let anybody tell you any different. If the spirit moves you to try a billion different things in life, then you try all 1 billion! Who knows, you may find that one of those things fits your lifestyle so much so that you might just want to stick to that and nothing else! The possibilities are truly endless. The world is YOUR oyster, so grab a knife and start shucking! Let me know your feedback!
P.s. One travel tip I will throw out there...if you are looking to not spend a lot while planning a vacation, I highly recommend going somewhere where you know someone. One of Ashleigh's friends is from Antigua, so that was the major factor in deciding to go there specifically. They let us stay with them, showed us around, and knew all of the cheap places to eat and have fun. This is a very inexpensive way to travel compared to going somewhere you don't know anybody.
P.p.s. If you are still feeling a bit down about being labeled as a jack of all trades, master of none, here is a list of EGOT winners! It's definitely possible for one person to excel to the highest level of recognition in a number of different areas!
P.p.p.s. I think this is why I've always been very interested in Broadway musicals. It combines many things I am interested in with unlimited creative possibilities (Writing, acting, singing, dancing, producing, stage direction, costume design, etc.... stay tuned for Gettin' By the musical by the way)!