This phrase, jack of all trades, master of none haunts me.
I am generally not a fearful person, I do get scared on exposed rock climbs when my last piece of protection is below me and I don't know what's ahead and whether I'll be able to hold on...but in daily life, and in my art practice, I generally jump right in. I've been able to take risks and explore the unknown without any crippling fear. Sometimes, I make a mess; sometimes, things break or they don't work but this doesn't cause me extreme stress. I attribute this to my wholehearted belief that failure is a critical ingredient to growth. Theodore Roosevelt puts it elegantly in his speech "Citizenship In A Republic" which was delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910. Here is an excerpt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Recently I've felt a new fear crop up. Sustained by self doubt, I worry: does this wide net of interests actually hinder me? Is it a fear of commitment that keeps me jumping from project to project? Should I have more discipline when it comes to focus? What is the best balance between following my impulses and forcing myself to stay with one? Malcolm Gladwell proposed that it takes 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" to become world class at something. This would mean that I'm going to be quite old before I can feel confident in my abilities in the variety of activities I pursue.
The creative life is not without its challenges. With the experience of pure bliss comes hours of torment. Am I doing this right? Does anyone care? The feedback isn't always clear. I am totally committed, I don't know how to be anyone else. And when I stall out on one project, it can feel entirely useful to begin something totally different, to keep myself engaged, to continue working my brain and hands until there's an apex of all parts coming together. But what if that conflation never comes? What if showing up is just not enough?---this is the fear I must put away as it is unproductive. But I'm going to challenge myself for the next week to finish projects, just to switch it up.