Yesterday I wasn't sure I'd hit 200 words. I had 200 words of thoughts but half a million distractions.
I would never describe myself as a focused person, though for a long time I seemed to be one. In elementary through high school I always spent long, concentrated hours on my homework. I was certainly still distractable but perhaps too busy to truly become distracted. In college, school got easier (my high school was insane) and the distractions got more real and much more fun. I started a company (which is sadly defunct), lived with fun people, found amazing new books, and got on LinkedIn.
Options are sometimes less than helpful... Why work on Chemistry when I could tinker with a smoke detector or talk to Big Ass Fans (still my favorite company name) about how they handle fires? Why write that religion paper when I could read about inner city violence and issues of social justice? All of a sudden, my environment had become so rich and my schoolwork started to (and still does) take second place.
But, one has to be careful about becoming fragmented. I've realized that I'm lucky to live in a world filled with opportunity, but I can't do it all (though I still try). Often, doing it all means doing it all halfway. But, there is a nefarious benefit to this do it all, unfocused mentality. It means I can always say I could have done more.
The root of my lack of focus, I think, is a real inability to accept my limitations. Since I always hedge my bets and don't give my all to any one thing, I'm forever full of potential but bereft of results. It's scary to give your all. In my time as a runner, I remember that at a certain point in every race, there was a tipping point. You decided whether or not the pain was worth it. Sometimes it was hard for others to tell that you decided it wasn't enough, that you gave up. You could always, always tell when someone decided it was. It was a beautiful, ugly, memorizing thing to watch.
All that said, two Professors of mine have challenged me to question my narrative that focus is everything. I think both would agree that short term focus is helpful. Both would probably say my habit of having LinkedIn, YouTube, and/or Spotify going whenever I'm on my computer is less than ideal. But, both have questioned whether I need to be focused, whether I need to have only one thing on my mind at all times. Most everyone who is successful seems to be focused. A key insight, though, is that they are not focused for the sake of being focused. They've found something they love to do and focus because of that love (or are driven incredibly hard by some third thing). Maybe I just haven't found anything worth focusing on.
My reptilian fear mongering mind just whispered, "What if you never do?" My more logical self knows that I might not and while that's sad and risky, I'm doing enough exploring of myself and the world that I'll probably be ok. Besides, once I find "that thing" (or more likely a group of many things that fulfills me), I'll know it. And just like in those races, me and everyone else will know it. It won't be pretty, but it will be beautiful. I hope 🤞.