Youth is one phase during which we are constantly experimenting. Experimenting on everything, and with a lot of passion! Music, art, writing, travel, all of these feed our brains with various stimuli. We also experiment at other things – at running events, organizing charities, helping the poor, saving the planet, joining politics, being the change we wish to see!
In all the experimentation, the biggest driver is passion and the fun of doing something new. As time goes on, the mind kicks into action, analyzing again, which of these are important for us to retain in life consistently, and which need to be given up. After all, a person can only do so much. You need to prioritize.
Master of one?
At different stages, different things seem important to us, and we go in that flow. Later we find that the same level of passion is not retained in all things. In others, we find that the passion remains, but it requires long term commitment (which we may or may not be able to give). In yet others, we find that we do not have what it takes to go beyond a certain level of proficiency.
A year after college, I was still confused about what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to do ‘some masters’ - but I found the idea of doing an MBA equally intriguing as doing an MS. In short, I had no clue! I joined for a CAT preparation course, paying the full 12K out of my pocket, only to drop out after four classes! A few months later, when I applied for MS classes, my roommate made fun of me, “Let’s see how long you go for these classes”. I completed my MS successfully and with decent grades.
The need for balance
What may have started a wise advice from elders to show commitment to at least one main stream of work, has often ended as a warning against trying out new things!
“Concentrate on your work”
“You are too old to learn music”
“But what happened to your previous hobby?”
“Stick to one thing, man!”
Over time, I realize that consistency comes from being able to balance three things
- Learning: These are things that constantly act as fodder for our brain and inspiration for our minds. These often get left out by adults and as a result, they find that they become stale with time. Learning is not just about learning in a career way. Learning is part of every single activity you take up! It includes career, housework, hobbies. Being a jack of all trades is part of this interesting journey!
- Creating: It is not enough to learn. Our sense of worth comes from creating some value in this world. Something new, something with our signature on it. It could be something at work, it could be an entrepreneurial venture, it could be setting up new family norms, doing anything that you are good at and enjoy taking time out for.
- Nurture: This is about giving back to society. It maybe your relationships with the people closest to you. It is about getting people to understand you. It is about bringing more people to the level of realization that you have reached.
If you spend all your time just ‘learning’, you very soon get disconnected with the world you are learning about!
If you spend all your time ‘creating’, you might very soon find yourself in an island with no friends, no beneficiaries.
If you spend all your time in ‘nurturing’ - which I would call social-service, you forget to ‘learn’ and ‘create’. This is a selfless act and can win you a lot of love and happiness, but generally, if it is not coupled with learning, very soon the capability of the person to nurture is also lost. The ‘creation’ activity is vital in giving experiential learning inputs too, besides giving the person a strong sense of self-worth.