Hello, my name is Ryan and I suffer from what I have termed “jack of all trades syndrome.” You know those people who know exactly what they want to be when they grow up, go to school, and then do it for 50 years until they keel over? Yeah, I’m not one of those people.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of respect and admiration for people with that kind of laser-like focus. Those people get shit done. The world needs those people. But people like me, who suffer from JOATS, don’t think like that.
I like to explain it this way: I have intellectual ADHD. I just can’t imagine devoting my time and energy to learning or doing just ONE singular thing. My curiosity always gets the best of me. There are so many things to do and learn and try in this world, and I want to try as many as I can.
Here’s a perfect example. Right now, I have 27 books on my desk. Here’s a random sampling of them:
- Essentials of Geology
- Astronomy: A Beginner’s Guide to the Universe
- What To Think About Machines That Think
- Caribou-Poems by Charles Wright
- Spanish For Dummies
- Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
All of those books represent a dream, interest, or curiosity in some way. And even though I have a “career” as a nurse, I don’t see myself being a nurse forever. Or even another decade. I’d love to try a lot of other things. And as my reading list here demonstrates, my interests are varied.
I’d like to teach. I’d like to be involved in some kind of research. I’d like to publish a book. I’d like to try my hand at some kind of trade. I’d like to invent something. I want to learn to paint. If I could, I’d go to school and get degrees in physics, linguistics, theater, Latin, and philosophy.
Obviously that isn’t practical (or affordable). And I’m fine self-teaching myself a lot of subjects or taking a random class here or there. But the idea remains the same: there’s so much to learn! I can’t commit to just one thing. It would seem almost a crime–nay, a tragedy!–to focus on just one thing.
I can’t imagine a life where I do the same thing over and over, day in and day out, for years on end. I can see the appeal of that kind of life for some, though. It’s safe, it’s predictable. And there’s a certain measure of pride in being a true expert in something. I get all that. But I like the idea of doing something, conquering it, and moving on to the next thing. I like the idea of always trying something new, of having a lot of variety in my pursuits.
I just like the idea of soaking up all that the world and universe have to offer. There’s so little time that we humans are gifted in this life and so much to learn, experience, and try. And I intend to embrace it all. I want to be a perpetual student of the world.