Earlier this summer I spent one week’s worth of my 9-5 back in the classroom. I attended a Content Creation Seminar as part of my master’s program. The course focused on building quick-turn, scrappy graphics and videos intended for publication on social media. It was the first time I was hands-on with video editing, Adobe products, even Canva, in a few years.
It was reinvigorating.
I made a mini-podcast and an infographic that, all-in-all, I was content with. (No pun intended. We don’t do that here.) I also created two short videos but…I won’t defend the quality of those, let’s just say.
The new environment, the change of pace and the spark of creativity continued from there. In the next week I sold my first batch of custom sugar cookies, I designed a print as a birthday gift for my boyfriend, I brought new energy to my client work. Hell, I started pursuing a woodworking side gig.
I went from reinvigorated to burnt out, fast. By the time the next week reached an end, I had to turn in a final project I was largely disappointed in and my anxiety went through the roof. I’ve never had much patience and I’ve never tended to take things slowly, but this was taking things to an unprecedented level. There’s value in trying new things, and in being willing to be bad at something. But, there’s also a risk in spreading yourself too thin.
Is it better to be good at a lot of things, or to be really great at one thing?
It’s not a new question, but it’s one I haven’t held myself to over the past few years. Whether due to a shortened attention span or to subversive self-sabotage, I’ve picked up a new hobby every few months. I’ve gotten good at some of these things, but I know that good is only going to take me so far.
And I think we all have a complicated relationship with that one thing we want to be GREAT at. I know I do.
What’s your one thing?
For me, it’s writing. It’s the first talent I remember feeling confident in. I wrote “magazine articles” for fun as a kid. When I needed to talk to my family about something important, I wrote them a note instead. I let this aptitude lead me to journalism school and into a career that I felt would provide a good balance of writing as well.
Yet, admitting to you that writing is my one thing feels fraudulent now, because my actions don’t mirror my words on this one. Apart from what I’m writing for clients at work or for my grad school assignments, it’s rare to find me practicing the trade. I have a hard time holding myself to a habit of daily journaling, let alone submitting essays for publication.
But the back-burner dream of publishing my work lives on. I still find the “writer” identity I craved after reading Joan Didion in high school tempting. And it’s not much, but here I am writing, right now.
I’m not ready to give up on my one thing. I’m not quite ready to focus in on it, either. But I am okay with admitting that, deep down, I still aspire to be a great writer. So for now, I’m going to frame my tendency to choose a hobby-of-the-week as part of the process rather than a distraction from it. Let’s hope it will make for great content someday.