I have been calling myself a generalist since I retired. It’s partly a boast and partly a jab at our unconscious tendency to define people by their roles. We say this one is a farmer, that one is an executive, another a homemaker, and so on. But we are all so much more than our occupations or our current enthusiasm.
I have enjoyed several very different careers and I am a life long learner, in some ways an autodidact in that much of what I know was learned from independent study and from the necessities of work. I’m curious about things and I often immerse myself in an activity to develop competence and mastery.
It used to be a pejorative to describe a person as a jack of all trades because we mentally added “and master of none.” But today the means to become competent in many things are accessible to all. If one invests the time in learning computer applications (“apps”) costing less than $20, it is possible to become competent in digital photography, music theory, electronic design, graphic arts, drafting, sound recording and mixing, video photography and editing, and much more. One can even learn to write. Between the Internet and personal computer apps it is possible to be a jack of all trades with substantial mastery. In other words, to become a competent generalist.
So that’s my boast: I have become a generalist and I’m proud of it.