Introduced in the bestselling book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (one of my personal favourite writers), the 10000 hour rule suggests that with 10000 hours of practice, anyone can achieve mastery in any field. Gladwell uses this rule to account for the success of The Beatles, Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and many more icons and multi-billionaires. As brilliant and influential as this theory is, it further promotes the social standard that we all have to choose one single thing to focus on for all of our lives.
As an 18 year old freshman, everyone (yes, literally everyone I talk to) is guaranteed to ask “what are you studying?”, “what are you going into?”, “what are you hoping to pursue career-wise?”. These aren’t negative or unjustified questions; I ask them too. But the fact that everyone is expecting to hear a single specific answer is an unfortunate societal norm. Everyone is so intent on pursuing their one goal, their one dream job or position. Specialize, get your 10000 hours, be rich and successful.
When asked, I typically answer “humanities”, and receive a response along the lines of “oh… so what exactly…?”, to which I answer “like media or writing? I’d like to be a writer” to which I will receive a sympathetic look in response, or a comment like “oh! So you’re gonna be working at Starbucks! ‘Cause you know, BA stands for Barista!”
The thing is, I love working at coffee shops. In fact, if I had to pick one thing to do for the rest of my life, it would probably be to run a bakery/cafe/library place. But I don’t see the value of focusing on one thing (i.e. business, culinary arts, etc.) when I am interested and passionate about so much (i.e. literature, film, psychology, etc.). I’ve always done a variety of activities on the side, and I don’t think it’s necessary to give up all of them in favour of one career. Similarly, I don’t think I should feel obliged to restrict myself to a single program that will lead me to a steady income source. “You don’t go to university to get a career; you go to get an education.” (Gillian Findlay, CBC)
It’s a different matter if you’re certain of what you would like to do for the rest of your life (that’s great!), and I’m not implying that anything is set in stone because statistically, the majority of people do change careers and go back to school. I’m implying that it is possible, and should be more acceptable, to be a jack of all (or multiple) trades. It may be more time-consuming, more demanding, less stable, less successful in one area, and less fruitful, but personally I would trade that for a bit more excitement, more passion, and wider knowledge. Life is all about how much we experience.
For example, Hank Green (age 33, married), is an “entrepreneur, musician, and vlogger.” He regularly uploads videos on the YouTube channel Vlogbrothers (with brother, John Green, vlogger and best-selling author featured in video above). Hank is also the (co-)creator of VidCon (annual video conference), The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, EcoGeek (online environmental technology blog), Subbable, Crash Course, Sci-Show, The Brain Scoop, Sexplanations, Project for Awesome, and inventor of 2D glasses; he is also a published author, and has released multiple records.
Not everyone can juggle this kind of lifestyle, nor would many want to. But whenever I get worked up over choosing what I want to do with my life, and people tell me “it’s alright; you’re young so you have time to decide,” it helps to remember that we are never closed in, no matter our age. There are always options, and although everything comes with some sacrifice, there are always ways to continue doing whatever we love.