Ah, the curse of the serial dabbler. I know it well.
No, it’s not a B-grade 70s horror movie, although that would be interesting. It’s a term I’ve come to use to describe myself, and you may find it relates to you too.
When asked “So what do you do?”, I never really know what to say. I do lots of things. By trade (and degree) I’m a graphic designer — which is actually a fairly broad term and covers a lot — but it’s not all I do, even in just my day job. I’m also a web designer, although I don’t hold any sort of certification. I help theme events and I’ve styled photoshoots, and I’ve never been trained in these either. I love to write, but I would never call myself a writer. I adore taking photos, but I hesitate to call myself a photographer. I’m not a drawer, or a painter, or an illustrator, but I dabble.
So what am I? I’m a freakin’ serial dabbler. I can’t help myself.
“Ah!” I hear you exclaim, “Lucky you! You’re excellent at many things! You can do anything!”
I’m afraid not, hypothetical and excitable reader.
The curse of the serial dabbler is the reason you feel unable to ever master anything. You’re okay at things. You might even be good at things. Multiple things! But becoming super amazing at something takes a lot of passion and a lot of practice, which is very hard if you’re running between specialties like a hyperactive puppy.
My job allows me to connect with a whole range of different creative people, photographers in particular, and this is the reason I’m hesitant to define myself by a single title. I’ve met so many people who are just bursting with passion; who live their craft; that have given so much to be where they are that it feels almost disrespectful to think of myself as one of them.
“For the longest time I felt frustrated by what I felt wasn’t, and would never be, good enough.”
For the longest time I felt frustrated by what I felt wasn’t, and would never be, good enough. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Internet exists (curse you, Internet!) — I’m sure even the most skilful and insanely talented people look at the work of others and feel inferior at times. They probably also have secret Pinterest boards titled “I wish I could do this”, and spend hours pinning gorgeous things and sobbing when they should be working and honing their craft. No? Just me?
This may sound a little sad and depressing, but I’m actually extremely happy with being okay at a bunch of things. I love feeling passionate about multiple things, and while I’d also love to devote my time to becoming an amazing, world-renowned designer, or photographer, or illustrator (or stylist, typographer, florist…) I enjoy all of these things too much to let the rest go. Who knows? Maybe I just haven’t found my one true calling yet, or maybe I’m destined to be a serial dabbler forever. That’s cool.
So, what am I? I’m a serial dabbler! I like lots of things! I’m a polymath*! I’m a “creative”! Are you one too? That’s awesome!
And if you haven’t been lucky enough to find a day job like mine where you can dabble to your heart’s content… maybe try starting a blog. It’s a good creative outlet ;)
*Fancy word for someone who does lots of different stuff.