October 4, 2012

Variety or Success

Variety or success: Pick one. As I near the middle of my life, I'm having to come to terms with a lot of the choices I've made. One that occasionally frustrates me is that my success is not commensurate with my potential. But when I think back on what I could have done differently, I realize that, faced with the option of single-minded pursuit or variety, I always chose variety.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to try cheerleading.
That's me on the far left.
One reason I chose to go to Sewanee was that they didn't require me to declare a major until my sophomore year. Looking back now, I do wish I had maybe majored in art, but at the time, I had studied so much art already, I was eager to try all the things I'd never tried before: film history, cheerleading, religious studies, Greek life. I was eventually forced to pare down my activities because there are only so many hours in a day, but I continued that eclectic approach to my studies for the rest of my time on the Mountain, taking electives in choreography and Japanese.

Making an ice cream cone out of feathers wasn't part of
the official curriculum at AIA. This was a project for a
creative club my friends & I started.
When I realized that I needed to go back to school to get a job in the field I was really interested in, I chose the Art Institute of Atlanta over the other available art schools mainly because their new Multimedia degree program let me take classes from several different disciplines: design, video, animation, and web/interactive. I did well enough there that I got a good internship, which turned into a good job. But once I was settled there, true success eluded me because, once again, I couldn't make myself focus on one thing to the exclusion of all else.

I could have taken off on my own to create a start-up, as some of my co-workers did, but that would have meant putting all my time and effort into that one thing. I wanted to keep playing in a band. I wanted to have a boyfriend, and get married. While I do regret some missed opportunities, I don't regret any of the things I did. I don't know that I could have made any other decision and been happy.

My career, such as it is, has been like crossing a stream by hopping from rock to rock. There's no particular goal in mind other than not falling in and drowning, so when one rock seems about to tumble away beneath me, I hop to the next closest one. I figure as long as I'm safely above water, I'm doing all right. And now that I'm carrying a family with me, jumping in and letting myself sink or swim isn't a viable option.

So I'm trying to find peace with the fact that I just don't possess the sort of single-minded drive required for true success. I am grateful for all the wonderful life experiences my pursuit of variety has given me. I need to remember that gratitude, and somehow translate it into happiness and contentment, because at this point in my life, I am who I am, and I don't expect I'm ever going to change.

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