A Nation of No Patience

As far back as we can remember civilization, humans had a need to be a jack-of-all-trades. Stuff would go down pretty much daily back then in a wild kill-or-be killed atmosphere ripe for nature documentaries, and where the skills would play a crucial role in just making it through the end of the week. A well-rounded set of talents, from bartering to fixing to hunting, was the only way to go. If you only knew how to fix but not hunt, for instance, you probably couldn’t eat and would starve unless Neanderthal Bob would spare a few tiger ribs. And on the flipside, if you only knew how to hunt but not fix, you’d stuff yourself silly until you got the meat sweats, but when it came time to fixing that bow and arrow that snapped, you guessed it – you were done for.

After bartering took a backseat to random forms of currency, getting paid to create something or provide a service started to take form. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the heaviest shift, though; a shift where people began to not only know a bunch of things but get paid to do them as an actual career. So like any true entrepreneur taking advantage of a trend, Joey Two-Jobs figured he could rake it in off the random crap he knew. Smart, right? Almost a no-brainer. This led to an assortment of odd jobs to make ends meet, and also sparked a movement. As time went on, it was apparent that getting paid for knowing how to fix a leaking toilet was no longer to the benefit of neighbors only, but to people willing to pay for it. And blue-collar jobs began to dominate the professional landscape.

But as the 20th century came, people began specializing in the one thing they knew best and enjoyed the most. The birth of the true “career” was now born, but we were adamant to keep up our tool belt of internal talents in a plethora of random things. That way, if Billy next door wanted assistance putting together the equivalent of a modern-day drone, you were down for those weekend “hold my beer” situations.

The problem is that today, the idea of knowing and doing a lot at once has stuck around and created a rift. In a 21st century era that is fueled by professional careers focused in one particular area, it takes time to cultivate being a badass in the area of your choosing. And for some reason, we don’t want to wait around to become a badass; we are allergic to it. Why?

We live in a nation of dabblers.

Dabbling Your Life Away

I’m a self-professed dabbler.

Here’s the official definition according to Merriam-Webster:

To work or involve oneself superficially or intermittently especially in a secondary activity or interest.

I hold several interests outside of what pays me to be there 9 to 5, and for some reason I’m always on the quest to get involved in the next cool thing to help me get creative or build some skills. In the back of my mind, sometimes it’s with the hope it may turn into a lucrative endeavor. Here’s the problem: that won’t do me any good, and if you’re anything like me, it won’t do you any good either. I can barely watch a two-minute YouTube video without skipping ahead looking for the juicy part. I can’t sit down and read a news story online because my phone either buzzed or I lose interest. And you expect me to put my head down and stick to something for months on end (or even years), even if I don’t see the results I expected for awhile? That’s funny – you can go F yourself.

We’ve been rewarded with the idea that we need these results fast. Customer service needs to come up with a solution now, the food I ordered should come quickly, and the shredded body I’ve been working towards for the last two weeks should be just around the corner.

In reality, the best things in life are two-fold: they’re not free, and they take time. In other words, you need patience.  

No, you don’t need this much patience. Credit: corbis/imgflip.com

You want something badly – cool, got it. You want something badly, as soon as possible – cool, but probably won’t happen. There’s a reason successful people don’t give up; they stick the course in something they truly believe in, and only when all options are exhausted do they pivot. Most normal people jump ship the second they sniff a marathon instead of a sprint, and that will get you absolutely nowhere.

I’ve fallen into the deep end with it, and to this day make a concerted effort to stop myself before I overextend my stay doing 15 things at once. You’re probably assuming that I have something against hobbies or trying different things to find what sparks your interest and leads to a passion. Not at all. Here’s the difference:

Having hobbies to fill your time outside of what you do all day is ideal; trying to find your next source of income or million-dollar idea while not giving your current source of income or million-dollar idea a chance, is not ideal.  

What do I mean by not giving your current source of income or idea a chance? You don’t give it a proper chance. When you fail to give something the proper attention it deserves, you won’t see the potential results you could have. It’s ok and actually beneficial to know a bunch of random crap. You wouldn’t have your man-card if you didn’t know how to change a tire, light a fire, crank up the grill, or use a hammer in addition to your regular job. And life wouldn’t be where it should if you didn’t have hobbies.

When you hear “patience is a virtue”, it’s not just some motivational quote meant to illicit feelings of “your time is next”. Because that’s not how life works. Life doesn’t give two fucks about timing things right. You learn things when you’re meant to learn it, not when you think you’re ready to learn it. So the solution is to go for whatever your heart desires, but give it an honest shot. If it’s something that you think you could take somewhere, block out most of the rest and give it a fair shake. It can be your job, a hobby, or just an interest. Don’t just dip your feet in it before deciding the water’s too cold. Since when did your toes, just one small part of you, understand what your whole body needs?

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