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Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Curse of 1000 Directions

We are given free reign in this country to be whatever we want. We are told from the time we are born that our choices are endless, and we can do it all

We are so lucky in so many ways!

We have freedom of religion and speech, our choice of career, spouse, and where to live, and the luxury of having spare time and the ability to choose what to do with it.

But there is a bit of a dark side to all this freedom. 

If we think we don't like one of our choices, we easily hop to something else. For example, I used to be a makeup artist. I not only did weddings and events, but I eventually worked for Sony Studios and several very well-known photographers in NYC. The money was great and I could choose the jobs I wanted--or did not want. 

The I got bored--or I thought I did.

I decided I wanted to try something else. To be honest--I can't remember what I hopped to that time--but for a few minutes I'm sure it was just as exciting as it was the first time I walked into a glamorous photo shoot in Manhattan. And I'm also pretty sure that I thought I got bored with that too.

Although I was unaware of it at the time, I had a bit of an addiction. The Next New Thing was my version of cigarettes and heroin. No one was there to stop me, and I took full advantage. I also like money--and the idea that the next thing might make me even MORE money than the thing I was already doing was very seductive. 

But in reality it was not about the money--it was about my own inability to take things to the next level. To get through the inevitable doldrums that happen as you become proficient at something, and your natural talent develops beyond what you are born with.

I was not trying to avoid work, but I was unconsciously trying to avoid becoming an expert at anything. Being an eternal novice has its advantages.

Keeping my "new guy" status gave me the ability to shirk true responsibility--in the field and to myself. How could I be expected to know what to do when I just started? Of course I can't help you...I don't know what I'm doing yet!

Yeah--ew. 

Not easy to admit, but when I realized what I was doing, (with the help of a friend and endless conversations), I thought long and hard and put the breaks on.

I thought about the things I wanted to accomplish, and what I really had to be doing to get them done. 

I could no longer twitch my nose and start over. I had to work my tail off at ONE THING--whether it was fun, or I was tired, or I had a headache, or (one of my favorite personal excuses), someone was knocking on the door. There were no longer 1000 directions to choose from. In fact, the path became incredibly narrow. I suddenly had to use laser focus and not allow distractions.

Funny--this was always my worst fear. To be "stuck" doing one thing--no choices, no freedom, no fun. I would be missing everything going on in the world around me. What I failed to admit was that I was missing out on plenty. Missing out on developing something and seeing it through to fruition, becoming very successful at something I loved, and having the satisfaction of becoming an expert at something.


I have been writing and illustrating exclusively for five years now. I have a routine--GASP--I never thought I would utter that sentence. I am "stuck" every day going into my studio and getting down to work. I do the same thing day in and day out--and I have never felt more liberated.

I do not have to wonder what I will do next or what I am missing. I realize there is an interesting freedom to sticking to something and becoming truly good at it. I am allowed a different view--the experiences of the next level. The deeper insights and conversations that come with knowing more than entry level information, and the satisfaction of finishing work that is MINE.

Maybe I am a late bloomer, but there is something to be said for the experience of life too--better late than never. But maybe this is just my time.

4 comments:

  1. We're living in a world where "everybody gets a trophy" and children are no longer told what they are good (OR NOT GOOD) at. It has made everyone an expert in everything and those who work hard and study, remaining in their own lane) are lost in the shuffle of self-crowned know-it-alls who never paid their dues. It's easy to become distracted and stray from our true calling. It took me many years, certificates, two degrees and job hopping to finally put a cap on it and learn to stay focused and ALLOW others to be better at something than me. Now, I like it this way.

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    1. Yes! There is nothing wrong with guiding our kids!
      And getting distracted is the curse--OOOoo!! Look!! Shinyyyy....
      Also--I realized it is OK to do something for ME--and not put every. single. other. thing. FIRST.
      Thanks Brooklyn. xo

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  2. Some life lessons take their time getting ingrained into us.

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    1. Oh my gosh William those words are TRUE. We can't know what we don't know--but the good thing is that some things hit us like a ton of bricks.
      Always happy to see your comments.

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