In this world we live in, being talented isn’t necessarily an asset to your lives. I have artist friends who still get asked about ‘commissions for exposure’. Everybody has a phone, making photography incredibly accessible, and to find the talented ones you need to wade through a thousand ‘Dominic Jane Photography’ pages (Two innocent names put together, no shade (they may belong to two of my favourite people ever)). Influencers rule Instagram by taking and editing their photos into unrealistic pictures and even with yoga, something accessible to all with an emphasis on progress through imperfection, poses are altered for the camera so it becomes dangerously difficult for beginners relying on them for guidance.
An example of that would be headstands. I’ve recently been taking a few conditioning classes and been working hard on handstands. I had no fear of tumbling and twirling and throwing myself off things to see if I could fly, but when I was five or so years old, I attempted a headstand. On tiles. In the kitchen. I wouldn’t advise it.
Since then, I have had an increased fear of falling, and never managed to bring myself to try out cartwheels and flips and the like. In doing my acro jams and conditioning class, I’ve learnt that to do a headstand, you should already have the upper body strength to hold yourself in the air on your forearms with your forearms slightly angled, before lowering yourself onto your head and allowing more pressure through your neck, slowly building the strength through there over time. I do not have that upper body strength and I doubt I’ll be willing to risk the sprained neck again, any time soon!
Little tangent aside… My point is, being talented gets you noticed. But what about when you aren’t particularly talented? What if you’re just… average?
I wouldn’t say I’m particularly talented. I have interests that I do until something else interests me. Normally, I do something until I consider myself having mastered the basics and then I look for something new to learn. I’m trying to stick to things these days.
I have my acro, which I’m now borderline for the intermediate class but I’m holding myself back for a little bit because of the aforementioned fear of being upside down and spraining my neck again. I’m focusing on conditioning before I move up, which personally I think is a good idea. To me, acro is consistently challenging me and so it’s kept my attention longer than most.
I have my reading, where I’m pushing myself to read more than just historical fiction, books that challenge me and help me grow. For me, I can read a book a night if you let me, and if the mood takes me. So I need to focus on not speed reading it all and to slow down to take it in. And I have my music where I’m trying to keep with learning new, harder songs so that I am beyond the ‘kindergartener’ level.
I have my community shows through Scouts Australia, where I’ve been performing for four or so shows now, which kept me fit and healthy and introduced me to my acro. I always loved singing and dancing but was so shy about new situations that it never really happened when I was younger. Joining these shows helped me with my confidence and self esteem when it turned out, hey I’m actually not too bad at singing and acting (Dancing is a whole other ballpark! But I improved!) I’m currently helping to write the new show I am a part of, and I am usually working on some badgework scheme as well.
As you can see, I have a range of interests, but I haven’t ‘specialised’ in one particular interest. My latest two interests are carving and fire twirling: carving because I think that could be interesting (and hopefully I won’t lose a thumb) and fire twirling because I’m making some friends in that community recently who have invited me in, which is lovely. At the moment I’m just rolling a stick up and down my arms and trying not to drop it!
I think everyone wants to believe they are special. That’s why people post niche photos online, because that’s the algorithm and they can get more followers that way. Validation via social media is a powerful thing. I’m not knocking it, god knows I love me some likes, but it’s interesting to take a step back and look at it impartially. But I’ve always struggled to stay with one thing.
My partner is the same. He will make some wine, he will make mead, he does weird things in our laundry sink with metals oxidizing in old glass bottles and he loves the challenge when I present him with a DIY idea but I haven’t a clue how to start. He’s currently focusing on building a Dungeons and Dragons world. That will keep him occupied for a while. Like me, he throws himself into a project until he is happy/thinks it’s done for now, and then moves on to the next.
There is a word for people like me and him (and yes, that is grammatically correct, no ‘him and I’ please!)
I love it. While a lot of definitions refer to ‘intellectual or artistically gifted’ people, that’s not really the definition I see being attached to it. Essentially, it’s people who have varied interests and skills but they enjoy the learning of a new skill. As a result, they often end up with a mishmash of interests that they can pull out for their dinner party repertoire. Think of the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”. That phrase throws a little shade towards the jack, making less of his accomplishments because he can do multiple things adequately but has not specialised enough to have mastered a talent. That derision is only found in this shortened version. In the full quote, “Jack of all trades, master of none but better than a master of one” turns the phrase around, suggesting that it is better to do more things ‘well enough’ instead of focusing on one thing to excel at it.
We all know people who only have a couple of topics they can talk about indefinitely. I don’t claim to be above average intelligence or that I am better than other people because I have more interests but it supposedly means that I have a wider understanding of some things because I’ve dabbled instead of basically cutting myself and my social circle down to, say, just dancers who talk about dance or just musicians who just talk about the upcoming concerts, etc. Even when I’m just talking with my partner, we have had some very odd conversations because between us, we have enough hobbies that we can bounce from metallurgy to gardening and DIY to dancing and singing techniques to primitive technology ideas to cooking… The list goes on.
And in this world we live in, where ‘average’ isn’t good enough and we all strive for perfection and talent, being comfortable in your skin and your interests is a very good thing. In a society that is filled with people who want to cut you down so they feel better about themselves and their talent, surely it is better to be average and happy with that than being a big fish in a small pond and on the lookout for any fish that might grow bigger than you?
I’m comfortable in being a ‘multipotentialite’ because it means I can be much more diverse in what I do with my life, and I’m not restricted to one particular role or hobby. I’ve had many an existential crisis where I can’t find anything I’m good at, because the society we live in teaches us that to be worth something, we have to be the best, the very very best. I think there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way I do, where they just ‘aren’t good at anything!’ and it really affects your self esteem and self worth in your own eyes. Personally, it has been very beneficial to me to have a word I can apply to myself and helped me realise that just because I have an array of hobbies and haven’t specialized, doesn’t mean I am worthless or less important than anyone who can sit down and paint like Bob Ross.
It’s simply a matter of changing your values and placing importance on what you deem important.
*~I hope this has helped anyone who may be struggling with thoughts and self worth as mentioned!~*
A/N: This is just my thoughts on the idea of perfection, anxiety regarding social media, and multiple interests vs single interests. It’s not my intention to upset anyone, and I applaud anyone who has actually stuck with hobbies long enough to develop them beyond ‘well enough’! To read more on multipotentialism, check out where I first heard of it: https://puttylike.com/