Are you a Scanner?
I’ve given this specific example to every therapist I’ve had (there’ve been a few).
I have a friend I know since we were 11. One of the first things I learned about her was that she wanted to be an architect. How not to? She had pictures of herself with 3 years old building structures in the sand on summer vacations. She also had a full collection of the special architecture issue that came every Sunday with the local paper. She always knew that architecture was her thing. Of course, she’s an architect now.
Anita knew it all along. She had her calling, there was nothing before and nothing after. My calling? Well, I always knew… that I didn’t know.
I asked myself so many times: what do I want to dedicate my life to? What is my life purpose? What is my “passion”? And what exactly is a passion?
I’ve always been that girl that knows everything about anything, I studied always with great passion and I had the feeling I could do anything… if I only put in the effort. Don’t get me wrong, I did put in the effort, but not consistently enough.
I can’t count how many things I started and left, ashamed of having lost interest (again) but unable to go back and keep doing it. I can tell you the exact moment when that happens: I’m all focused on working on whatever it is I’m doing at the time, and suddenly it feels like something inside of me just breaks. After that, it’s a long road of pushing myself to try and hold on to it a bit longer, while deep inside I know it’s the end of that project.
I always felt an outcast because of this. Everybody has their own thing, but not me. I realized I had no idea of what I was known for amongst my peers or colleagues. “What is my specialty?”, I asked myself over and over again. Still no answer, but maybe that’s the wrong question.
• • •
I’m an avid yoga practitioner, and I’ve been practicing it on and off for about 5 years now. Naturally, I was very devoted to my yoga when I started. Yoga taught me to accept what it is, without judgment, and work with that, for it’s enough. I am enough. I am.
It was a very interesting moment of my life because instead of self-imposing things to myself, I started listening. I listened to my inner self. And my inner self liked to do everything, so I started my tryouts phase.
I realized I could try doing something to see if it stuck. Can’t decide what to do? Do everything! Can’t commit to it for the rest of your life? Create achievable milestones, one at a time.
I strongly believe in planning (I actually have a degree in that) and so I started putting all my projects on paper: everything that was in my head, I brain-dumped it in my notebooks, calendars, and sticky-notes.
Eventually, I started doing everything I wanted to do with absolutely no guilt, but always knowing that at some point, I would have to leave it. Far from being sad about it, I found that it’s the cycle of life if you want to put it that way. Or the nature of things: everything is evolving, nothing is forever, the only thing that never changes… is change.
• • •
About a week ago, I was scrolling on Facebook and I found a post of a girl saying with great frustration that she liked so many things that she couldn’t decide what to do with her life. The clock was ticking and still, she was paralyzed at the idea of having to choose that one and only profession to start living her life. Oh, I felt I was reading myself. I felt that same despair from a couple of years ago banging at my door again. I went to the comments to read what others were suggesting, and one of those comments caught my eye.
It was a girl telling her something about being a Scanner (a generalist) rather than a Diver (a specialist) and that there was nothing wrong with that, she was allowed to do everything she wanted to. She was allowed to pursue all she wanted, for having an interest in everything was a natural condition of hers that far from being cursed, should be embraced. Then, she recommended “Refuse to choose!”, by Barbara Sher.
I bought the book immediately and, of course, I hadn’t been able to leave it. It has been such a revelation! I found myself in all the pages, in all the extracts from letters that other Scanners sent to her, that had been featured in the book. I felt part of a community (I even went on Reddit to know if there was one but there isn’t), I felt part of something bigger that had the potential to actually change things. Change how we’re conceived in the community, in our jobs, in our families. Someone had to do something about it, spread the world, make a podcast! And then I realized I’m someone. I should be advocating for this, sharing it, normalizing it, making it possible and right!
And here I am, strongly committed (at least for now, hah!) to spread the word about us Scanners. Shall we accept ourselves, understand ourselves, and live a fulfilling life doing everything!
In order to do so, I will allocate some time to read and learn and share everything that I can put my hands on, and I’d love you to contribute to it, too.
If you’re a scanner, please drop me a message, let’s connect, let’s talk, and show me your ways. Like me, there must be some other folks out there feeling frustrated thinking they don’t fit in, but the truth is we do! We just need to figure out how, and that’s what we’ll do.