I’ve always considered my father a jack-of-all-trades. He knows something about everything and is, at the very least, competent at everything he does. As a child growing up around him it was awesome because I cannot remember a single thing that he didn’t know, at least something, about. It’s pretty amazing even to this day.
I’ve always wanted to pattern myself after that. I’ve tried to learn something about everything, and it is the most infuriating aspect of my life. To be proficient at everything, generally speaking, you can not excel at any one thing. There are, as always, exceptions to the rule; like my dad. For myself, on the other hand, that idiom holds entirely too true. I have a novice level of proficiency and understanding in a myriad of subjects. I’d say that on a scale of 1-10, 1 being no practical understanding, I have a 3 or a 4 in most things I come across.
It may, in fact, be a statement about the caliber of people that I associate myself with, but there is always someone in my life that is better than me at whatever particular thing I’m into that week. It’s insanely demoralizing and a bit of a catch 22. I feel like, for instance, if my wife writes better than me, my gut instinct is to not write anymore. If she’s better, then why should I keep trying? Some people have a certain natural aptitude for things that I don’t have. Why not leave it to them to do the job? I’ve lived my entire life by that standard. I’ve been playing guitar for around 15 years now and my 8 year old nephew who’s been playing for just a few months knows things that I don’t. There are absolutely times where I want to give it up, even to this day. If it wasn’t for my band, I probably would have.
To me, it is incredibly hard to be proud of anything that I do. It’s an even harder thing to come to grips with when there is someone close to me who, comparatively, is a prodigy. I have so many passions and interests in my life that it’s hard to feel successful or knowledgeable about anything. That’s not including the things I have no real desire to know, but feel like I need to; things like home improvements and car repairs.
What little maturity I have developed over the years has taught me that no matter what I do, someone will do it better. I can accept that. I’m never going to play guitar like Hendrix. I’m never going to sing like McCartney. I’ll never be as funny as Kevin Smith or a hilariously brilliant as Lewis Black. I won’t have the millions of readers like R.A. Salvatore or Penny Arcade. I have come to grips with these truths. I just want to be better than what I am. There’s a strong fire burning in me to do more than I am doing and I have such a hard time dealing with that. It’s hard to be successful. That is the damned truth. That’s why so few people see the level of adoration as the aforementioned comparisons. It’s hard to see your best friend be exponentially better than you at something when you have a stronger passion for it. It’s hard to suck it up and not quit when you feel bad about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
What I’m going to have to do is to put a few points into my sticktoitiveness skill and soldier on.