I have nightmares about this question.
Not because I think the world will end in that time frame (although, ask me again after the election, maybe). And it’s not because I don’t imagine what I can do or that I don’t have ambition.
People change, though. Sometimes slowly, over time. Sometimes surprisingly fast.
When I make a plan, I need to stick to that plan. I don’t like deviation. I like routine, and if I know I have to break that routine, I have to know what I have to do. I break things down: get to point A, do X, then get to point B and do Y. Why do you think I like video games so much? That’s exactly what they do. NPC hands you quest, you follow the steps of the quest, experience points and reward!
Real life doesn’t respect the laws of video games.
Planning too far ahead invites too many unknown variables. You go from a linear equation to a matrix in no time at all. It invites error and failure – not the iterative kind, either, where you fail fast. Like the…I spent four years getting this degree, and it turns out I don’t want to be a book editor kind.
But it’s not just that.
5 years. That’s a lot of time to learn, to grow, to become. So you say “man, what do you think you’ll be doing in 5 years?”, and I start thinking of all of the things I could do in 5 years. Certifications earned, books written, games played, conferences attended, experiences. 5 years can hold a whole lot.
I become paralyzed by possibility.
The last time I was asked this question, it was framed with “what is the endgame of being a polymath?” That just seemed so contradictory to me.
What makes me a polymath is curiosity. If something interests me, then I dive in, and I will retain some of the knowledge I gain for longer than is strictly necessary. It’s why I’ll spout out random facts and find every tangent possible. (Did you know that cats most likely domesticated themselves? In Egypt, they learned to mimic the frequency of an infant crying in order to be fed. They don’t generally meow to communicate with one another. So cool!)
Most things don’t hold my interest for very long; I’m not wired to become fixated on one thing forever. I become fixated for a short time, absorb a ton of stuff, and then I move on. It’s not because I don’t WANT to be summarily consumed by a single passion.
My dad used to tell me that I go from 0 to 100 too fast, that people have a hard time keeping up with that. He’s right. And I’ve tried to tone it down. At least, you know, the manifestation of it. I don’t *fangirl* the way I used to. Externally. Inside, I might be screaming, jumping, and pointing, but on the outside, I am sarcastic and super chill.
So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about the question and where I see myself in 5 years, what it means to be a polymath, how the word endgame kind of freaks me out, what I want to be when I grow up, and stuff like that.
And I decided…I’m going to go have a tattoo consultation on Sunday. I haven’t gotten any ink in over 2 years, and I have a few ideas. So that’s pretty cool.