When you’re young, the natural inclination is to try your hand at everything to see what sticks, what you enjoy and are good at. Kids are the perfect example of this – apart from compulsory schooling, they might be playing football, learning ballet or karate, enrolled in a drama or art class and scouting on the weekends. Participation is the point, not “success”, which is lucky because most kids are rubbish at most things.
Kids and young people who don’t get the most out of their youth are often those who don’t try enough things. It’s a numbers game, and when you’re young you have nothing but time.
As you get older, you tend to work out where your talents lie. You do fewer things, but generally more successfully. This is what careers are made of – decades of hard work in the same general area.
You can get really skilled in one part of your life, but sometimes this can lead to a withering of other parts. Maybe even the parts that you like the most. And therein lies the problem for many older people: waking up one day and realising that you became terribly boring, except for this one part of your life which is hugely top heavy.
I guess the key is to try to see past the stereotypes which lurk in our minds.
When younger: understand that dabbling without some commitments is wasted time. Experience is important.
When older: Your expertise is the trunk of the tree but it’s not the leaves and flowers. Experimentation is valuable, even if there’s no pot of gold at the end.