Why Honing One Craft is More Important than Being Proficient at Many

Wednesday, February 4, 2015



I start, again and again, staring at the blank white screen. I've been trying to work on a PR assignment for some time now...and it's hard.

Not because I can't do it. I can and I have before. But I feel inevitably like a wolf in sheep's clothing, like someone trying on a sweater that itches and scratches, that's too small despite my best efforts. 

I sit back, exhale, and wonder if maybe...just maybe I try to fit myself in too many boxes. My field of study places importance in wearing many hats - in the workplace, we're told, the more skills you have under your belt, the more marketable you are. And I believe that. I do. 

But I find myself wondering why I took this class - not a requirement for my major - why I'm trying to fit myself into this class. It's a class of facts, of basic + bare bones skill - a good class. Good to take, I think to myself when I sign up in the fall. But I realize now that I never really stopped to think if it's good for me. 

I'm finally in a creative fiction writing class this semester and my feelings towards that class and the PR one are worlds apart. When I walk into my writing class, I come alive, I sit with a thrum of happiness running through me - a steady confirmation that this is what I'm supposed to do. It's my craft. 

Words have always been a great love of mine. But lately I've been concerned with practicality....wear all the hats, know all the skills. But I'm realizing I've been running everywhere, trying to fit in tons of boxes, instead of honing and polishing my natural skills of the box I love and feel comfortable, confident, and natural most in - writing. 

Writing with a voice, with emotion, with everything that public relations doesn't quite offer. Now, I'm not demeaning PR. There are people who love it, people who come alive when they're in the thick of it. But that's not me. I've never been one of those. 

But I think I've been trying to convince myself I can be. My inner perfectionist try-hard, know-it-all self wants to be able to do everything. But do I really need to? 

Do I want to be very proficient in everything? Or be great at what I do and love best? 

I'd rather be advanced and a master at my craft than average and shallowly knowledgeable in multiple skills. 

I realize what I'm saying is counter-culture. I've grown up in a society that tells me, "Be great at everything! Improve constantly! You should be able to juggle and wear twenty different hats!" Yes, you should be proficient in multiple skills and constantly learn and seek improvement. But I'm discovering the importance of knowing a craft, of diving in to a concentration and giving it your full talent and undivided attention, of saying 'no' to other things so you can say 'yes' to what you are good at. 

After all, if we were all great at everything, there'd be no need for other people. There'd be no teams, no collaboration, no joining of ideas and balancing out strengths and weaknesses. 

I've been so busy trying to fix all my weaknesses that I've neglected my strengths. And if I keep doing that, soon it will cease to be a strength. 

And I love writing too much to do that. 

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Grace Hincapie said...

Grace, this is great advice that I need to keep in mind especially this fall when I enter into the collegiate world. I am one that wants to get involved in EVERYTHING, so this a wonderful reminder for me to find where I belong and focus on that instead of trying to dip my toe into other things that yes, may keep me busy but doesn't fulfill me.

Carey Mooradian said...

This. So perfect.

Emily Elizabeth said...

Love this post! :)

Stephanie Therese said...

Thanks for this, Grace! This is so true, and is something I've been reflecting on lately too. It's tempting to try and dabble in a bunch of different activities to get somewhat good at them... and while it's not a bad thing to learn new crafts and gain new skills, sometimes it's good to just focus on the thing(s) that you really have a knack for and that make you come alive.
By the way, I just began reading your blog a couple months back, and I think it's so great!! I always look forward to your posts! :)
~Stephanie
stephanievitabellissima.blogspot.com

Susanna said...

What a helpful reminder! I have struggled with the same thing. The problem is that with young people there are always so many opportunities available. It is hard to turn them down. I recently was accepted to be an ambassador for a WWII museum and conduct video interviews with veterans. It was going to be a fantastic journey. However, it meant learning all sorts of video/audio and interviewing skills. It meant taking up a huge chunk of my free time, pretty much all of it, that I really needed to use to focus on my goal skill: writing. In the end, I had to turn down the job, despite the fact that I knew it was a wonderful opportunity. I won't say that I've never looked back with regret, but I will say that this post reminded me that I should be thankful. I have the time I need to really focus on what is most important to me.

Peregrin said...

What a deep, thoughtful post. Oh, how I agree. ♥
P.S. Why, yes, you ARE a master at words. :)

Elizabeth said...

Grace, I love this post! It's advice I needed to hear because lately, I haven't really been focusing on what I'm good at. As a college student, it's so easy to become involved in so many different activities and it's hard to step back and say no sometimes. Thanks for this great reminder!

Grace said...

I love this.

The Starving Inspired said...

This is just excellent. Thank you!

The Starving Inspired

Grace K. said...

Thank you, friend. <3

Grace K. said...

Very welcome, ma'am!

Grace K. said...

D'aw, you are too kind. Thanks, friend. :)

Grace K. said...

Merci, madam!

Grace K. said...

Thank you much, Carey!

Grace K. said...

Elizabeth, it's so hard to realize, I think! I'm just now starting to think about it and realizing how we've become a culture focused on multi-tasking rather than craftsmanship. So I'm in the same boat! Thanks for your comment!

Grace K. said...

It's hard to fight that impulse - especially as someone from a large family, much less a homeschooling one! We're used to trying to be good at everything...but forget sometimes to chase what we're truly passionate about.

Grace K. said...

Stephanie, thanks so much for saying hi!! I'm always so delighted to hear from new readers, so it's a pleasure to meet you. And sounds like you're one step ahead of me - you're right, it is so important to focus on what makes you come alive!

Grace K. said...

Wow, that is such an impressive decision - I'm not sure I would have had your wisdom and forethought to turn down that opportunity! I am unfortunately very good at talking myself into things that I don't have time or energy for...so kudos to you!!