One of the main reasons I decided to pursue a degree “at my age” was due to the fact that I became a displaced worker. I found myself forced out in the streets to compete for jobs, and my competition had an upper hand, they had a degree.
Up to that point in my life, I had been able to survive without a degree in my specialized career, which had 15 years of experience to shape and make better. However, when my career ended, my specialty was no longer needed, and I was unable to compete and if I had any desire to survive, I had to make myself marketable and in my case, that meant I had to pursue a degree.
In the midst of this, I must confess, that yes, I did find a job. But the job was not what I termed a “specialty”. I took great pride in my previous career, in being an expert, of knowing everything there was to know about one thing and now I suddenly found myself a jack-of-all-trades (master-of-none).
In my new current job, I am not an expert at any one thing, but rather, I am able to perform many things and thus make myself valuable to my office because there are very few things (but they do exist) that I can’t do.
So I found it quite interesting today when my biology professor explained interactions within species. He talked about a term that biologists use when studying biodiversity. Have I lost you already? Ok, let me back up.
Biodiversity, that’s the study of different variations of species. Kinda like two skunks that look the same (smell the same) but they are not really the same, there is some characteristic that makes them different from each other, so much so, that these two different skunk species, will not breed with each other. They (the skunks) know they are different.
So back to my original thought. The term my professor referred to was competition. It’s labeled as a -/-. Yes, a negative/negative, because technically nobody wins, or do they? My interest was piqued!
Some species live in an environment where they can survive but they are competing for survival perhaps for space, food and other resources. Sometimes that environment can have changes or events, such as dry or moist, warm or cold climates, that affect the species. Some species, even though they can survive within these extremes, choose to remain in a “specialized” area or “niche” where they can only survive within that niche. Others he termed as “generalist” that move and adapt within the extremes, and adjust if their environment goes through changes.
His examples of some generalists were pests of sorts—you know, sort of like rats and cockroaches. But he said, these pests (generalists) will survive simply because they adapt and are not reliant of one specialized area.
So, the point I’m making here is this, I kinda felt like he was talking about my career. Do I still want to be a specialist and thrive in just one thing? Have my “niche” per say? Or do I want to keep being a generalist, which at times can be a pest for others, but will ultimately assure my survival?
This certainly leaves one wondering, “Which is the better choice?” I’ve always felt that being specialized gave you (me) the upper hand, where you were the expert, people rely on you and they come to you for expertise, and then you can die happy. And here comes the dang cockroach, showing that, sometimes you have to adapt in order to survive.