Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Self Discovery

As I mentioned in September, I've been reading a couple of books written by Barbara Sher. One of them is titled Refuse to Choose! A Revolutionary Program for doing Everything that You Love. One of the challenges I've always dealt with in my life was finding one thing to focus on for a career. In college, for the first three years, I consistently took one science class, one English class, one art class, and one music class, because those were my four main areas of interest and I just couldn't narrow them down. After finally selecting English as a major (I do love reading!), graduating and working for a while, I decided to become an elementary school teacher because it seemed like the perfect job for combining all of my talents and interests. Although I no longer teach, I still find myself not wanting to give up any of my many varied interests.
Barbara Sher explains in this book that there are many people out there like me who want to do everything and she calls them Scanners (Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle, and Ben Franklin were Scanners). In the book, Barbara Sher shares stories of other people who are Scanners and how they frequently have trouble staying in any chosen field. She identifies different types of Scanners and offers techniques to help Scanners use their many varied talents and interests to have a successful and happy life.
This book was worthwhile reading for me for a few reasons. One reason is that while many Scanners quoted in the book thought there was something wrong with them for not being able to choose and focus on one area, I've been more egocentric about it. I always wondered what was wrong with everyone else because they weren't interested in constantly challenging themselves! To me, there is so much to see and do and learn about in the world, and we only go around once. I don't want to spend my time in front of the TV or doing something I've already done. But now I realize not everyone is like me (the majority are not) and I need to be more accepting of those who don't need to be constantly challenged.
The book offers ways of combining interests in your life, and after reading it, I realize I've already kind of worked that out on my own. My past life as an elementary teacher allowed me to enjoy a variety of subjects, and my life now is just as busy and varied. Working part-time at the library, I still enjoy connecting with and teaching children. I also have the opportunity to educate their parents on Early Literacy skills and how they can better prepare their children to be good readers. I sing and play the guitar in my classes and help come up with crafts for the four- and five-year-olds, so I get to be creative. And of course, I still get to marvel at the many talented authors and illustrators and enjoy the best of children's literature. Since I only work part-time, I still have time to be with my own children, challenge myself with more personal creative projects from art quilting to bathroom remodeling, and enjoy the outdoors by gardening in my own backyard.
So, in summary, after reading Barbara Sher's book, I understand myself better, I understand my family better, and I appreciate my varied life more. I still have goals I'd like to achieve and I can use some of the tips and tricks she suggests to attain them. I don't think I'll ever be good at flower arranging (see photo above!) but I'm happy to have what I've got!

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