If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that it’s focused on my utter lack of focus. I have dabbled in nearly everything, and have grand plans to attempt the rest of it when I retire. Here’s a paragraph from my professional bio:
Donna studied writing, film, and theater, and has been employed as a jazz singer, copywriter, set designer, sound engineer, choreographer, makeup artist, actor, web designer, joke writer, dancer, costume designer, show doctor, model, bartender, videographer, theatrical director, graphic designer, club promoter, interior decorator, and DJ.
When I pursued each of those things, I went at it with a single-minded obsessiveness that would make your head spin. But then weeks or months in, once I felt like I had gotten pretty good at it, something completely different would catch my interest, and off I’d go on another adventure of learning and making and doing. On my best days, I found this circuitous, jack-of-all-trades path my life has taken to be funny. Most of the time, though, it’s been a source of great anxiety and self-criticism. Until the blog, that is. I now feel like my interest in everything has finally paid off (figuratively, if not literally), and it enables me to offer a fairly wide variety of subjects to attract would-be readers.
But even though the blog has given me an excuse to be interested in every single art form I encounter, it still sticks in my craw (that’s right, I have a craw. You don’t know.) when I see artists like Nick Patten whose paintings are clearly the result of great talent paired with great focus or OK Go, who channel every ounce of creativity they have into their One Big Thing (wildly-imaginative music videos set to very listenable music). By flitting from one thing to the next, even if I do spend a year or two obsessively focused on something, I never get enough experience to feel like a legitimate artist. I never get to consider myself a real professional at anything creative. It’s infuriating, and it’s been making my stomach hurt since sophomore year of high school when I was asked to choose between art club, dance troupe, and glee club. (Rather than choose, I punted and joined a musical production at our brother school which happily took up all my time.)
My art teachers were convinced I was going to be an artist. My music teachers were 100% sure I was going to pursue music. My literature teachers firmly believed I was going to be a writer. But while many of my talented friends became professional photographers and filmmakers and performers and artists, my inability to choose a path resulted in me taking a desk job. Yes, it did eventually turn into a career, and one from which I do derive some satisfaction, but it’s been a real struggle to find ways to inject some creativity into my daily paper pushings.
However, if you can believe writer and artist Emilie Wapnick, maybe I’m not just a giant, unfocused blob of indecision after all! I’m not a screw up, I’m a multipotentialite! The first time I watched this video, all I could think was YES! I finally feel understood, and I think I may understand myself a little better, too. I only wish I could go back and show this to that high school sophomore. It might have changed everything.