What if I told you that I want to be a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, poet and a writer?
If that scares you, you belong to the vast majority of people who believe the modern day mantra of specialization and say that a Jack of all trades is master of none.
But if it gets you excited, then you are like me.
Maybe you too find it hard to specialize in just one thing and want to be both sculptor and poet – not just sculptor or poet.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
The list I started this post with was the resume of one of the greatest minds in history, Leonardo Da Vinci. And here’s another one:
I have no idea what an ophthalmologist does, but I have huge respect for this guy, just like anyone who doesn’t suppress his curiosity but goes all the way exploring all the different things he finds interesting.
Wikipedia lists dozens of recognized polymaths, so if you want to know more about people like Da Vinci and al-Haytham, I suggest you grab a cup of coffee and start digging. But don’t forget to come back to this post when you are done with Wikipedia.
A blessing or a curse?
During the coming weeks, months, and who knows, maybe even years, I’ll write more posts on how we can be true to our insanely interested natures and be polymaths or Jacks of all trades in the modern world. But today, I’m sure you’re itching to know whether I will diagnose you as insanely interested in everything or not.
Once you have read this post, let me know if you agree with your diagnosis, and whether you think being interested in many things is a blessing or a curse.
Then, if you want to know more about the topic, subscribe to my RSS feed – there’s more stuff coming up (and you don’t want to miss any of it).
Let’s start digging your mind
You’ll be the shrink, so be honest. Think about each of the following clues and create a diagnoses for yourself: Are you more of an expert type or a generalist type? Forget all about other people’s expectations and just concentrate in your own thoughts and feelings.
You might be insanely interested in everything if…
- You admire everyone who is following her dream: I just found out that my friend Kaisa has a blog about her business of making new clothes from recycled materials (in Finnish). I don’t think anyone would call me a fashion expert, but I still found her work fascinating and subscribed to her RSS feed.
- You find every new job opening exciting: Just about a week ago I was counting all the job descriptions I have had during my three and a half years at my current company and realized that my job has changed more often than once per year. Not to mention the three or four internal job openings that I considered applying for but didn’t.
This kind of “job hopping” is probably one of the clearest signs that show that you are insanely interested in everything.
- You always have a new project going on: For as long as I can remember, I have always been doing something. As a kid, I loved to write my own music, but I also enjoyed writing scripts for movies and directing them. And that’s not all: I was the editor of my own magazine. My brothers and I did an animated movie. I loved programming on my Commodore 64. When I grew older, I started building web sites and web based projects. Then game programming. And finally blogging.
It’s just a part of who I am. I need to try out new ideas as they pop into my mind.
- You keep wondering if some other career choice would have been better for you after all: I work as a programmer, but I also enjoy writing, so every now and then I spend time thinking if I should switch to writing and leave software alone for good. Some days I’m thinking that maybe I should apply to a school to become an architect. But then I have a day that reminds me of how much I love programming too.
I enjoy so many things that it’s hard to just pick one and stick to it.
- You can spend hours surfing at Wikipedia: Or if you are more of a fan of analog data, you spend time at your local library reading magazines such as Scientific American, Time, National Geographic, or Wired, looking for inspiration and new information to fill your curiosity. You are hungry for all kinds of information.
And here’s a quick test: If you clicked on some or all of the Wikipedia links at the beginning of this post, you probably just passed the test: you are insanely interested in everything.
- You see being laid off as an opportunity rather than a disaster: I don’t exactly want to be laid off, but some days ago I realized something. Mari was telling that someone she knows is forced to find a new career path because of allergic reactions to the chemicals she needs to use in her job as a hair dresser. It was supposed to be a sad story, but I was just thinking of all the different alternative career paths that this person could now explore.
In order to be polite, I need to fight myself and remember that not everyone sees these situations the same way I do.
- You find it difficult to maintain a focus in blogging: For a long time I wanted to start blogging, but didn’t, because I didn’t know what to write about. I had too many options. And when I finally started this blog, I decided that I would write about software engineering.
It’s now been months since my last software engineering post, but I’m happy, because I think I have at last found my focus: this is a blog about how you can make being insanely interested in everything a blessing rather than a curse.
How did you score?
I’d love to hear your experiences and how you realized that you are interested in more than just a few things. What would be especially interesting to hear would be whether you feel being a polymath is a burden or a blessing.