This is a follow up to the second of my five posts on the topics of my presentation at New Hope Academy’s Ask An Expert Day. Check them all out here!
#2.5 The Non-Linear Path, Specifically
As a sidebar to my post on Taking The Non-Linear Path, I should mention the topic of specialization, since it was brought up in my classroom presentation. A young woman told me she had a lot of interests and talents and couldn’t decide which to follow. Teachers had advised her to choose one of those interests and specialize in it, because that was the only way to get a job.
I told her that was silly and that she should follow them all. I said it was likely she’d be able to invest in all of her interests at the same time, so she should give yourself permission to take turns with them. Perhaps she could combine them into something unique and unexpected!
Remember, I studied both acting and comic books! I wouldn’t call myself an “expert” on either acting or comics, though I am certainly well-trained in them. I’m certainly not an expert in graphic or web design. But I have found my niche at the intersection of all of these things: I can create marketing design for theaters better than many other designers because I know theatre, both the art form and the process of making it. I use my love of storytelling to tell the stories of the plays or the companies. So, in a sense, I have specialized in using illustration and design as a storytelling vehicle that markets art experiences. If you can call that specializing.
By not choosing only one path for yourself, you can invent your own career path and remain flexible enough to adapt to changes in the economy or industry. Your business (should you be a freelancer or run a company) should absolutely specialize, but as an individual, allow yourself to fully explore your interests and your passions. Don’t close any doors until you’ve at least looked through them. Take the non-linear path.