The Dilemma of a Purpose Driven Life (and Specialization)

If you are anything like me, you spend at least two hours a day either trying to figure out what your purpose in life is or how to fulfill your already discovered purpose. Life’s clock is ticking and society is pressuring you to figure out why you are taking up space on the earth. What pressure!! Life throws so many questions at you, “What will you specialize in?”, “What will your career be?”, “What is your purpose in life?”.  Thirty is approaching, or for some of us have approached, and by this time your career path must fully be established. However, what if you don’t have it all figured out and even more shocking, what if you don’t want to do what is socially expected of you?!

Recently, I discovered one of the most uncomfortable feelings for me is to be expected to specialize, to commit myself to one cause, make a career of any one thing. Yet, that is the image of the ideal professional that society perpetuates. That is the box I have been trying to fit into for the last couple of years. For the two hours a day I previously mentioned, I would bust my brain wondering which aspect of my life, which one of my passions I would make into the career that society so longs for me to determine. I needed to know this so that when someone asked me what I specialized in I would have an accurate answer, “I am a gender rights advocate.”, “I am contemporary artist.”, “I am a freelance writer.”

I decided that the path of specializing is not for me. I have more than one area of interest that I am knowledgeable about, committed to and effective in.  I am a generalist.

generalist: one whose skills, interest, or habits are varied or unspecialized.

It is quite freeing to know there is no need for me, or  you, to specialize. We can have an impactful life by contributing all our gifts to society. There is absolutely nothing wrong with specializing, however, for those like me who who have two or three areas of passion, you do have the option of being a generalist.

Side Note: Being a generalist does not mean overwhelming yourself with many projects at one time. Time management is especially important when this is your chosen path for life because you should produce quality work in everything that you do. In addition, having a manageable amount of skills sets you are committed to at one particular time is wise (two or three as oppose to ten). 


Claytine Nisbett is a community advocate with a special interest in gender and youth development. She holds a BA in Sociology and is Certified in Non-Profit Management. She has spent close to 15 years contributing to the Non-Profit field ranging from board member to secretary. She manages Ujima Solutions and all interested blog contributors can contact her at



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