A Generalist in a Specialist’s World
Jesse Gardner
81

Man, I feel every word you wrote. This is something that is *always* on my mind. It’s as if there are two of me, with wildly competing values.

Part of me wants to be a specialist, which is another way of saying, part me of wants to live (what I consider to be) a *focused* life. To settle down and and raise my kids in one place and commit to a town and get to know the neighbors and stick to a budget and a daily schedule and get really good at something and to find my *place*, as it were, in the world and in life.

And the other half of me, the part that always seems to win, is never satisfied. This part of me is always chasing something new. Reading books and taking courses just for the sake of learning, indulging my insatiable curiosity, switching careers every two or three years, following whatever path my constantly changing desires lead me to follow.

I’ve never been able to reconcile these two people that are always at war inside me. Every time I’ve tried to focus on one thing, I always get bored. I’m not a *long haul* person. I’m a starter. I love figuring out a solution to a problem and then moving on to another problem. I’ve never been able to stick with something past the point of debutante skill. And I’ve always thought of this as negative. A defect. A character flaw. But after 36 years, I’m still a ball of various interests and nothing I do seems to change that.

I’ve tried to adopt the philosophy of playing to my strengths, rather than focusing on me weaknesses. And that’s just it. I don’t know whether this is a weakness or just a personality type with which some of us are blessed/cursed.

I really appreciate your article, but what I’d love know is how you reconcile this within yourself. The specialist path seems to me to be the nobler path. The higher road. Maybe that’s because of how I was raised or the types of people I was taught to admire. It’s one of my biggest struggles in life and something I deal with daily.