Since I was selected to learn violin at the age of 7, my dream has been to become a professional musician. Or, at least, it’s been one of my dreams. You see, becoming a musician is more than difficult. It’s one of those careers that’s almost impossible to make a living from. Especially today, with income from music sales so low. I didn’t come from the kind of family that could throw money at me until I was famous, so I had to find a way to make a living. So naturally, I looked at design.
From wanting to be an architect during my teenage years, to studying graphic design at university, to working as an animator; I’ve continued to bounce from one idea to the next. I find so many pursuits appealing, that I’ve never been able to settle. When I graduated from university, I had a mish-mash portfolio of started ideas and a Jack-of-all-trades skill set. I saw others around me who had really honed their skills to create amazing work, and here I was with multiple unfinished projects. I’d tried animation, illustration, interactive design, and just about anything else that I could get my hands on.
After my degree, I worked in a catch-all media role that included animation, graphic design, film production, website maintenance, social media, you name it. It was nice, but surrounded by others who were not familiar with my area of work, I had no mentorship, no real clue about what I was doing, and no motivation to get better.
I knew I had to study again. I knew I needed mentorship and direction, and to develop new skills. But even this was a difficult decision. Do I focus on animation, since it made up the majority of the work I was doing? Should I develop in a totally new direction?
Even now, as I wait to start my Masters, I find myself wanting to use my spare time to develop my skills, yet I am so undecided on what to focus on that I do nothing at all. A classic case of analysis paralysis.
So how do I face such a decision? This is where being a Jack-of-all-trades really becomes a problem. It’s hard to focus when I’m equally alright at a number of things. I want to use my time to develop my artistic skills in drawing and animation, but I want to develop new skills in programming and delve into 3D design.
There’s nothing wrong with having a broad skill set. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple careers, or even inventing your own. You don’t have to “find your passion” and become amazing at one thing. But to become even good at anything, you have to dedicate time to it. And if you spend all your time just deciding on what to dedicate time to, then all you dedicate time to is deciding.
I think the best way to work out this idea is to focus on what will be most useful in the immediate future. It’s important to remember that there is plenty of time to develop new skills later, not just in your youth. So what will be most useful now?
For me, the answer to that is learning programming. The course I’ll be starting in just a couple of weeks doesn’t require that I have a programming background, but there’s a steep learning curve if you don’t. In particular, I’ve been advised to look at learning Java as a start. I’m sure it won’t be the only language I have to learn, but I’ve had my question answered for me.
So that’s that. Over the next few weeks I’ll be focusing on picking up Java. Here goes nothing…