After deciding upon a tagline for my other site, I’ve settled on the phrase, “Honor your selves” for this one. Although psychologists and other thinkers have maintained for years that individuals are collections of many “selves,” I am increasingly convinced that we need to be reminded to acknowledge and honor these different selves. Here’s why:
1. Society is still obsessed with prodigies
Based on what I’ve observed, it’s now more important than ever to be multifaceted and competent in various domains. However, society is still obsessed with prodigies – individuals with extraordinarily high abilities in one area. In order to get that good at one thing, you pretty much have to sacrifice every other part of your life. I do believe that some individuals are wired to be very good at just one thing. But for Renaissance People like me, we may feel ashamed that we can’t (or don’t want to) become such singular-focused prodigies.
2. Honoring your selves means accepting their contradictions
Speaking of shame, oftentimes we become ashamed of certain “selves” because they don’t fit well with others. For example, I’ll sometimes feel uncomfortable working on a cross-stitch project (something considered feminine) when at a jazz concert (which tends to be more masculine). When I was still an active scholar, I was told by a colleague I was going to get myself “in trouble one of these days” for my comedian-like jokes and bits. When we’re open about who we are – even when certain parts don’t seem to jive with others – we’re much happier and, by extension, healthier.
3. There’s still the idea that you should focus on one kind of practice
This varies from field to field, but I’ve noticed a widespread attitude in both music and academia that anything outside of your given area of practice is a distraction. When I was a performance major, I was subtly discouraged from scholarship, socializing, exercising, and crafting. Once I switched to academia, it was the same, only now I was being discouraged from performance. Part of the meaning behind the phrase “Versatile Practice” is that I believe multiple practices are mutually beneficial. If you get good at one thing, it’s much easier to get good at others. Not only do individual practices provide transferable skills (discipline, strategy, problem-solving, etc.), they often inform other areas of practice in unexpected ways.
Do you struggle to balance or reconcile your various “selves”? If so, what strategies have you used to overcome this struggle?