Handy famously wrote that the sin of modern life was reducing things to their component parts. Life is a mixture, he says. Work doesn’t neatly fit into five days of eight hours. Money comes from many quarters in many different ways. And no one person or organization has to own you if you create collection of different work units that has a theme to it. It accumulates by choice, not by chance.
This approach to life goes by many monikers. We’re called crofters and freelancers and scanners and polymaths and triple threats and multi hyphenates and portfolio workers, to name a few.
But the reality is, the label we give ourselves doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We reject the notion of a single, permanent role, and instead using our varied skills and interests and achievements to create a diversified, integrated, interdisciplinary existence that makes a living, makes meaning and make a difference.
We construct a multiplicity of creative identities based on a unique mixture of activities we love, the combination of which leads to our deepest satisfaction. And we’re not defensive or apologetic or guilty about it.
Instead of shutting off meaningful parts of our personality that aren’t related to work, measuring only a fraction of our whole person, we find a home for all of our talents. We allow ourselves to move forward on as many fronts as we can. We achieve distinction in more than one genre. We work in a place where the law doesn’t interfere, where we can stretch out and be ourselves.
And that gives us freedom. Because we’re not supposed to be one thing in life. Instead of focusing by doing one thing, we focus by being one thing. We’re not hammering one nail all our lives, we’re hammering lots of nails, one way, all our lives. We are both/and kind of people. We are high achievers and wide achievers. We have depth and breadth. We achieve mastery not because we are the best at what we do, but because we are the most of who we are.
And so, next time somebody asks the dreaded question, so what do you do, hoping to quickly and neatly compartmentalize you into their nice little box, simply say, I do lots of things.
Fuck declaring a major. Choosing is losing. Do everything.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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