I was sitting watching Henry play guitar today and it kind of got me down. Not his playing; he's awesome at it. I just came to the realization that I'm not particularly good at anything, and come to think of it, I never really have been. My parents never coerced me into playing sports, but even if they had I'm pretty sure the other kids would have gotten injured due to my lack of hand-eye coordination. I did ballet for about 9 years, but 5 of those years I was forced to do so and I was the class clown and never took anything seriously. Not to mention, pointe is the most excruciating thing to endure, I like being able to walk thank you very much. They never forced me to play an instrument (I only played the clarinet in 8th grade so that I could go on the Disney trip).
I look at my friends and I see that some are exceptional photographers. Others are awesome at rock climbing. A few are out of this world musicians. Everyone has their forte. What's mine? I like writing, but it's just something I'm always doing, not necessarily excelling at. Sometimes I'm scared I only picked my major because if I wasn't doing journalism...I don't know what the hell I'd be doing. Does everyone have unnerving thoughts like this? Or is everyone in this mindset of "well thank God I'm freakishly good at circular breathing, I have no doubts about my oboe playing abilities"?
I'm tired of being a generalist, at best. I'm relatively competent at a lot of things but not outstanding at anything. I want an awesome talent. Something that makes me distinguishable.
"Oh that's Emma. She is INSANE at (water polo/tightrope walking/neurosurgery)."
Well, you finally made it. You graduated! You spent four years (or eight, or ten–no judgments!) and eleventy billion dollars of your parents’ money, and now you’re a bunch of learned-ass adults.
Now for the bad news. You’re joining the workforce in the middle of a jobless recovery, which is basically the O’Doul’s of economic rallies. It’s no picnic out here. Or, okay, it’s a picnic, but it’s a Cormac McCarthy The Road type of picnic, there’s not enough canned peaches in the shopping cart, and everybody’s calling dibs on the one bullet. And also there are fire ants.
Mighty institutions people once took for granted–banks, newspapers, American Idol–are crumbling, and while most of them deserve to, the problem with a world without mighty institutions is that mighty institutions used to employ a lot of people. You could always get The Man to finance your lifestyle. No more. That unpaid internship you’ve got your eye on? Be prepared to flight somebody for it. Possibly your dad.
You’ve never known hardship. You’ve also never lived in a world without Intenet, which means you’ve grown up with an exaggerated sense of your own self-importance. You posted ‘response’ videos on YouTube; poured out your every typeable thought on a glittering, blinking MySpace page.
You had access to all the machinery of self-promotion before you really had a self. You thought of fame as a birthright. And now you’ve been booted into a world that will LOL at your sense of awesome-life-entitlement, then offer to ‘hire’ you to blog for free.
Having a thousand Facebook friends means about as much in 2010 as a personalized-license-plate key chain meant in 1990. We live in a moment when anybody can make a name for themselves; the game you’re suiting up for is about making that name matter.