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.