On Being A Modern Day Renaissance Individual: This Is No Time To Be A One-Trick Pony

by Jenn Lee

It seems today, society is focused on personal labels. In high school, your abilities and interests define you. In college, your major defines you. It’s hard to break the mold after you’ve spent so many years conforming to it.

I am in a medical profession with a bachelor’s degree in business and a penchant for art. I spent my free time in internships and hobbies that did not conform to a single “career path.”

This was often dismissed as being indecisive or noncommittal, but allow me to offer a modest proposal about the intersection of science and art: I believe that innovation does not spark from something new, but rather, from a new perspective on something old.

Art provides the creativity and out-of-box mentality that is fundamental for advancing in the fields of math and science.

As a generation that was raised with the Internet as a mentor and social media as a wingman, we are made well aware at a young age of the seemingly infinite possibilities that our futures hold. We compare our career choices and successes to others.

There is so much to do; so much we can do, yet we continue to conform to traditional molds. We see what others have done and we work to follow in their footsteps.

What we fail to realize is that the economy has shifted, and with continued globalization, this generation should not see specialization as the only option. We are in an age in which, if we so choose, we can be a renaissance man or woman in the true sense of the word. There has been a revival of the art-science-technology movement and it is gaining traction.

We need to expand our abilities and capabilities. There is nothing to lose by embracing a multitude of interests, but there is so much to gain. The myriad of opportunities that surround us warrants that we at least try.

We have endless possibilities for what we can do with our futures, and it is our responsibility to simplify and hone in on what is really important to us. Development may be nurtured in the classroom, but it is realized in the real world.

Do not see what you study as a single road. Do not be afraid to define yourself as something that does not already exist. If you like music, work on that. Have you decided to matriculate at law school or medical school? Do that, too.

Be realistic about your abilities, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. As for lack of direction? Fine tuning hobbies or side interests does not mean that you have lost sight of your future, but rather, the opposite, as you have seen all that your future has to offer.

If specializing means you will miss out on something important, don’t. As the Forbes 30 under 30 proves, success is no longer exclusively for those who have a lifetime of work under their belts.

There is no tried and true formula for success, so why do the majority of us continue to fall onto the beaten path? I am not advocating chasing easy money, but rather, a belief that hard work across all fields can warrant success.

Life isn’t built on standalone expenditures. Our education and experience all work to prefabricate what will be the rest of our lives.

Our time is limited; don’t waste it to fit other peoples’ expectations. Discover your passions and hone them. You will learn to forge your own path through hard work and perseverance.

Dire situations will inspire. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Let us reinvent our futures to embrace all that we can offer.

Photo via Favim