To Be or Not To Be All Things

Are expectations on myself too extreme?

To describe the predicament I feel I am in, let me start with a list of areas that based on my career, personal interests, stage of life, and relationships I expect myself to be versed in to some capacity (list in no particular order):

Tech support/advice for everything with electricity especially for the tech industry , programming advice, trend watcher, account manager, good listener, giver of wise counsel, man of patience, semi-amateur photographer enthusiast, teacher, homeowner, welcoming host, humorous, culture/media “intaker” and critic, decent blog writer, great “director”, email writer, able to quickly absorb and interpret everything I read, son, friend, “uncle” to others’ kids, all around smart guy, consistently cool, calm, and collected, and above all — awesome.

I have this perception that expectations on me are high all the time. Everything I’ve listed above and more could be “needed” from me at any given moment and I must be prepared and knowledgeable. I must be expert of all I survey and more. If I can’t keep up, disappointment begins to seep in; first from myself, sometimes from others.

As a person who ultimately wants to serve and please others, internal pressure increases to stay sharp in ever increasing ways. From knowing how to diagnose computer problems you’ve never encountered to knowing how to properly phrase a thought in a teaching moment or fully grasping the story of a book’s theme or how to console a hurting friend in a time of need, I want to be the best at it for the sake of the recipient. My own goal to always have a well thought out and appropriate response to any situation challenges and haunts me. While I am not a perfectionist, I am a “want-to-be-great-at-everything-ist”. I want to be whatever the definition of the modern Renaissance man is.

What I want at the end of the day is to be able to intelligently speak in just about any situation; to always have an eloquent word to put to paper, blog, or tweet; to analyze what I hear and read in a way that’s well rounded and isn’t simply a rehash of another person’s ideas; to take that perfect photo the first time I put that camera up to my eye. I want to be something that only exists in movies and TV shows. Culture seems to demand this of us as we gain access to more and more information. Why can’t we all read everything online and able to retain it to intelligently discuss it all? Why haven’t we kept up with every meme or funny story or big news story and have opinions on it?

The problem is I can feel my own idealism that drives me to want to be all things to all people slowly wearing me thin and pulling me into more directions than is realistic for people. With my inherent limitations, I am forced to make decisions on where I want to go deep. What’s worth reading online and offline? What subjects must I leave in the past so I can focus on other ones instead? Which people do I need to spend more time with?

Narrow and deep, not wide but shallow right?