Everyone knows someone who can slam dunk a basketball, kick a field goal, and serve an ace all with relative ease. It’s the same for the creative arts. Most creatives fall into the category of multi-talented individuals. We can play three or four different instruments and we can knit, crochet, and embroider with skill. A painter enjoys gardening, an actor masters arias, and a dancer can sculpt a mean tea cup.
So why don’t more people embrace their multiple talents? Why don’t we see dancers sculpting tea cups after their performances?
The problem lies in the fact that everyone constantly tells us we can only focus on one thing. We need to find our strength and stick with it. We need to find our niche and dig in. We can be a master of one trade or a jack of none (or however that silly phrase goes).
But is that how you were as a child?
My mother can tell you that I split my days between the important tasks of tooting on the recorder, drawing masterpieces in crayon, building terrariums for caterpillars that never made it into butterflies, and doing impersonations of Tom Brokaw (please don’t ask).
So if we are multi-talented as young children (or at the very least multi-passionate – because believe me, I had no talent at the recorder or at butterflies), why are we afraid to embrace that in our work? Why do colleges dislike people (like me) who pursue more than one degree?
Why are we told we can’t be amazing at two things – only one?
A few months back I had this itch to embroider. It was such a silly desire because the last time I had sewn, I was 12 and my grandma was teaching me how to make day-of-the-week tea towels. Besides, I was an illustrator! I didn’t have time to sew! And if I did have time, there was no point because it wouldn’t bring in money and wouldn’t I be better off bringing in food money?
Well, the itch turned into a nag and finally I caved. I stitched one of my illustrations onto a piece of fabric and posted a picture on my blog, feeling entirely stupid about sharing it. Within hours, my blog lit up! Everyone wanted to know how they could sew their own!
I had inadvertently created a new product line by following a whim. That itch, founded on one of my other passions, now brings in a whole field of new customers to my shop. I’ve added a new medium to my work, going from paper to cloth. Plus, they allow me to take routine breaks from my drawing and entertain my other love. But the best part is that these patterns and kits allow people to interact with my drawings on a much deeper level.
Pretty good for a whim, right?
If I had listened to that fear of wasting time and potentially losing money, I never would have created my embroidery line. (And I wouldn’t have given my grandmother something to share with her quilting circle.)
So if you love more than one thing, embrace it!
If you hear a little voice telling you to coach, to sing, to dance, to paint, to make tea cups, LISTEN! You never know where it could lead you.
Just please, for your family’s sake, leave the recorder to the kids. My brother investigated and there is no such thing as a professional recordist.