I’m not a finisher, I have realized. I like thinking, and I like ideas, though sad to say I don’t have many of much particular creativity. However, I love learning about new things and figuring new things out, up to the point of gaining general subject competence and learning to have a good conversation about them. I’m proud to say that I am really quite good at trivia and a general sponge of knowledge. But I get distracted easily – I lack the patience and persistence to take up projects on my own and carry them through to their conclusion. Everything I toy with – taking up programming, writing a book, starting a business – I eventually lose interest in, and it becomes a chore. I’m beginning to worry I’m nothing more than a dilettante, and will never develop a deep passion for doing anything.
This terrifies me, and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s certainly true that there is a socialized and presumably internalized value attached to the idea of specializing and becoming a master of something. But I don’t think it’s a received value, at least in my case. What keeps me awake at night is the anxiety that I won’t make a difference. Making a difference and making my mark is what I hunger for, what animates me. Depending on my mood, I sometimes want to write the Great American Novel, build a political dynamo, or become a tornado of creative destruction sweeping across some previously placid field of American industry. This is a drive I can sometimes feel burning like a fire inside me, and the thought that I won’t have the persistence to act on it is terrifying.
It’s good to articulate this, but I still have no idea what to do about it. The fact remains that I still am an expert in nothing. I have quite a good knowledge of American and world history, a fairly solid foundation in business strategy and operations, and an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th/21st-Century military strategy, tactics, and hardware. I’m not sure what to do with any of that…I’d probably sign up for the Navy if it weren’t for the fact that I’m legally blind and have never laid a finger on a gun. The only assets I am sure I possess are not particularly easy to build a career on. The consulting bit is the obvious exception, but if I cared about that I wouldn’t need to write out my frustration.
The only thing that I really, deeply care about is fighting the good fight – politics. That’s it, to be honest. I can’t see finding satisfaction in anything else. But I don’t even know about that. The practical issues are daunting – I don’t even know how one goes about finding a job that will pay for food. And what if it turns out I’m poorly suited for the hard work of politics? What then? The thought of taking that leap and having it be terrible terrifies me. The fact is that there’s some sort of comfort, cold as it may be, by imagining there’s at least a true calling out there somewhere.
None of this is materially helping me resolve the question of what I want to do with myself, unfortunately. I’m mainly just trying to ask the question to keep myself uncomfortable…being comfortable is just a few steps away from settling down, and right now that seems like death. There’s so much I don’t know about life, but above all I know I need to keep my eyes open and my wits about me, and remain alive to the possibilities of this modern world.