November 21, 2013

Jack of all trades

I was in the fifth grade when my teacher after reading through a lesson in BalBharti mentions, "Don't be like him, he was a jack of all trades but sadly a master of none" thus introducing us to the new idiom. It was put up as the thought for the day for the rest of the week high up on the blackboard.

I'd read it every morning, trying to figure out which master was I going to be when I grew up. I definitely didn't want to end up a loser like the fellow in the lesson. Confused, yet determined, I knew I would be great at 'something' one day.

Look at me today. I boast of having my own blog, I love playing violin, I am so happy I end up coding well, I can cook decent ( while most of the other girls of my age suck at it), I get above average marks, I sketch portraits, etc.
For people who are acquainted with me, often compliment "You're multi talented!" "Wow! You can do that too!" As I speak of this, I bet you can think of atleast 3 people of similar traits you think are good at everything, all-rounders as they say.

It is only I who knows how brilliant some bloggers exist out there, I play the violin only when I am alone at home to avoid the unbearable tune that follows, I absolutely suck at algorithmic coding (read: actual coding), cooking is something I definitely don't wanna do the rest of my life, I was way better at academics when I was in school, I cannot sketch a female portrait (yes, all attempts in vain).

Left me what? Something I didn't want to be - Jack of all trades, master of none.

For peers, its complex giving only for a while. Its tough for people like me to win in competitions of a particular skill. There are always 10 people who are masters of that art, bagging away the prize rightfully. All we are left with is the so-called great essence of participation everywhere. The metaphor applies to bigger things like coming across an interview too!

It is interesting to note how this phrase was not meant to be a derogatory term at all. Earlier it was the very positive context that a Jack of all Trades was refereed to. I don't even see the reason why:

  • Variety is the spice of life, isn't it? Why stick to a particular area and keep exploiting it till you get bored? And when you feel you're done, its too late to step out.
  • Steve Jobs was definitely not a better programmer than his Engineering Head. But what made him Steve Jobs was the overall knowledge from programming, designing and marketing fields.
  • Jacks of all trades are up for a show anytime. They are far more sporty than a master of one because I bet he would have tried at that performance sometime before in his life.
Well often these are just reasons I keep giving myself owing to the category I belong. The truth is, the world is too specialized to see that. The blinders of their area of mastery allows them to think only in One Direction (No! Not that band!).

In fact, it is not only me or that teacher of mine who sees this as a bad trait. The world today demands a 'specialized' person in every field. Tremendous respect and fat salaries await individuals with a specialization. Practically jacks of all trades are more or less treated as average mediocre crowd with no distinguishing factor at all. They have no reason in the word to be famous as things they do are ordinary.

What is it like BeingAJackOfAllTrades?
Honestly, when its showtime, we know we rule. But when it comes to making decisions, that's where we falter. If we knew what held more importance in our lives, we would left trying to do everything at once and set ourselves on the path to master that 'something'.
Precisely that is what happened when I was supposed to select a 'stream of study' after 10th grade. I could have managed with any field I could have taken. That is what is happening now, I fail to figure out if MBA or MS or No Masters would be the best choice for me. While its so easy for the others to pinpoint their line of action, its with considerable envy I say its too tough for me to decide. And then in the end, our choices, it doesn't even matter. Because whatever we choose, at the same time, somewhere we are polishing ourselves to improvise on the other choice too.

While it sucks to be stuck in such shoes, I cannot help convince myself that the reason why "Generals" in a Military force are called so because they see the bigger picture, innovate, plan, predict and ultimately climb to power the fastest.


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