A jack of all trades is a master of none...



“A jack of all trades is a master of none,”

This quote defined almost everything I did for the longest time. I have heard it so many times growing up, that it almost became a part of my subconscious. Any time I felt like doing something new or different, I was reminded that if you switch or split your attention, you were heading towards doom.


Growing up, I was always a good student. I did well at academics and had a plan for what I wanted to do in the future. For almost ten years, I knew I wanted to do something related to space. The first option, like so many others, was to become an astronaut. I bought every book related to space that I came across, read newspaper articles, cut those articles out and made a huge folder with all the cut-outs. It was my most prized possession.


Every day after school, I would spend a good two hours, re reading the articles and looking for new ones. I even made a telescope of my own with lenses from my spectacles that i didn’t wear any longer. Everybody knew what Nida would pursue when she grew up. A couple years in, I realised that maybe being an astronaut was a little farfetched. I have a terrible phobia of heights and motion sickness. But I knew I wanted to learn about the universe. That’s when I decided I was going to be a scientist. And thus, continued the dream.


When I passed my tenth board with a good percentage, I knew I was going to pursue science. I told my mother my subjects would be physics, chemistry and maths ( the infamous PCM ). Biology was never even an option because I was so certain of what I wanted to do.


For ten years I had prepared for just this decision and no one was going to change my mind. Well, I was wrong. I attended a biology lecture at an academy and instantly realised how much I loved the subject. But it felt like I was betraying the ten years of effort that I had put into my dream.


Ten years of running to the terrace every time they said you would be able to see a planet. Ten years of looking forward to the day I’d actually see a planet through a telescope. I thought I would keep my options open and opted for biology as well.


With every biology class I attended, my interest grew. I didn’t forget about my dream. It lingered in the background. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to make a decision till I absolutely had to. But I was lying to myself. A little part of me knew that the dream was over. It had its time and it’s time had ended. This shift made me question the jack of all trades quote. I wondered if I was being a jack. I didn’t want to be a jack. I wanted to be a master.


But no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t shake it off. I Needed to accept that I have an undying love for the universe and it’s vastness, but I also have a love for everything about the human body. I wanted to learn about both but I had to choose which one I would like to pursue professionally.


I settled on medicine and got to it. There were entrance exams to prepare for and it wasn’t easy. I spent hours together studying and the only break I took was to sketch. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed sketching. Especially because I couldn’t draw as a kid. And no, I’m not talking about portraits. I can’t draw people for the life of me. I liked sketching outfits and jewellery. I started looking forward to my breaks.


Not in the way that I didn’t concentrate while studying, but in a way to rejuvenate myself. Sketching made me feel like I had tapped into a whole other me. Everyone says that tapping into your creative well can teach you so much about yourself. I had just started to see the truth in that. To be honest, I even considered taking it up professionally, but didn’t.


A couple years into my under grad, I fell terribly ill. I got infected by chicken pox and was made to self-quarantine for twenty one days. I always suffered from anxiety but those twenty one days were the worst. I spent hours together crying because my thoughts would take over me. The only time I felt better was when I scrolled through Instagram and watched fluid art videos endlessly. One day I decided to give it a go. My mother has always been pro art. She has tried every craft out there and was more than happy to bring me a couple of art supplies to help me with my quarantine and the crippling anxiety. I made my first piece that day and there was no looking back.


When I finished my quarantine, I went ahead and bought more art supplies. I’d spend my days studying and at night, I would paint my heart out. Not paint in the traditional sense that requires so much talent and dedication, but a form of art that was relatively easy and more importantly helped me manage my anxiety and my tendency to over think. I quickly moved from fluid art to resin art. What started as ‘me time’ slowly turned into making art for friends to gift to people.


At this point of time, it was just a hobby. I never thought of turning it into anything else because that meant shifting. It meant switching. It meant dividing my attention and not having tunnel vision about my profession. It meant being a jack. I was no master but I definitely didn’t want to be a jack. But you know what they say, somethings are meant to happen for you and some opportunities are yours to grab. A couple days later I decided I would try my hand at having a small business. A very small small business. I set my priorities. Decided what would get how much time and told myself I could give it a try.


It’s been a crazy ride ever since I started. Even today, I work in the day and work on the small business at night. It’s far from perfect. I am far from perfect. But I don’t want perfect. I want this. This imperfect mess that’s mine to keep and have. I have days when one needs more attention than the other and I have days when I feel like it’s all too much. I’m still far from managing both efficiently but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. My parents are always concerned about what I’m doing but they’ve come to accept how things are. They know what makes me happy and wouldn’t want me to do things any other way.


Every once in a while, I wonder if I’m a jack. And I’ve come to realise, I am. And I’m okay with it. I’m okay with it because being a jack means I get to do all the things I love to do. I wake up every day wanting to learn something new and I don’t limit myself. Every time I’m presented with an opportunity to do something new, I jump at it. I still have tunnel vision.


There are different tunnels and they all get my attention at different times. And you know what? Recently, I came across an Instagram audio that made me realise how dangerous half-baked knowledge is. You see that quote I mentioned in the beginning of this article? Did you notice it ends with a comma? Well, I just realised that all these years, I was letting an incomplete quote determine how I led my life. So, I’m just going to leave you with the entire quote and hope it inspires you to do more.


“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”
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