Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

I realized--once again--as we sat in the midst of some very dedicated blues fans at the International Blues Competition, that Jon and I aren't really experts at anything.  The people surrounding us at the competition were members of various blues societies and traveled across the country (and some from other countries) for this event.  They went to club after club throughout the week, listening to bands and keeping detailed notes on their favorites. They wore official looking badges and spoke in a sort of code that only they truly understood.  We, on the other hand, went only to the finals because we'd figured it would be good music and the theater was just down the street.  I don't think we enjoyed the music any less, but it was just another reminder of how we're not specialists in any particular area. 

We know a little about a lot of things...which makes it difficult to know a lot about a few things.  With the exception of Jon's beer and transportation fetishes, we don't really specialize in anything.  We are able to navigate in a lot of different communities, but we're not exactly members of any of them.  We are able to hold our own with running people, wine people, book people, football people, technology people, political people, artistic people, writing people, traveling people, food people, music people, etc., but we're nearly always the students and rarely the teachers.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; we get to have a lot of experiences and meet lots of interesting people.  It's just another facet of the breadth vs. depth debate.

I, for one, have always felt this way.  During my final year of high school, for example, I ran cross country and track, played basketball, performed in Forensics, was in National Honors Society and Students Against Destructive Decisions, and  danced.  It should come as no surprise that my senior superlative award was "Most Involved."  College was no different, as I was a member of Cardinal Key service organization, Bacchus and Gamma (responsible drinking organization), Phi Eta Sigma honor society, the student affiliate of the National Education Association, Sigma Tau Delta English fraternity (that's right...STD), various other "resume'" honor societies, and I was a Student Ambassador and head of the Student Involvement Mentors.  And now that I'm a so-called adult, I've found myself with a full calendar of book clubs, dance classes, bunco games, and church lector assignments.

Please believe me when I say that I don't provide that list to toot my own horn.  In all honesty, I'm not "good" at any of those things.  I've often wondered if the reason I'm just average is because I do wear so many different hats...or if I get involved in so many things because I'm not really good at any one thing.  Reflecting on this very question as I write, I guess the only thing I'm good at is being involved.

I can't say with any authority if it's better to know a little about a lot or know a lot about a little.  By the very nature of Jon's career, we are destined to fall into the former category.  We have already lived in several different places for short periods of time.  We haven't had the chance to establish ourselves anywhere or stay in a particular job long enough to get comfortable.  In my short teaching career, for instance, I've taught five different grades at four different schools in three different districts.  On tough days, I use that as an excuse, but when I really stop to think about it, I'm thankful for the range of experiences I've already had.

So maybe that's the point of this blog post (in case you've been wondering, like I have).  Rather than feeling like an outsider at blues competitions, wine tastings, half-marathons, and new jobs, we should feel grateful for even finding out about the party.