TO SCAN OR NOT TO SCAN
BY M.A. TARPINIAN
It was the late 70s early 80s. All, if not most of my high school and college classmates, were obsessing about what they were going to “be” when they finally graduated. It was all about finding THE career. That ONE profession that would provide you with everything you need. Financial security, benefits ( including that all-important 401k), vacation time (yay!) and our introduction into being an “adult”. Finally, no more asking the folks for money. Independence! Our own place. Our own schedule.
However, In the midst of all this anxiety and obsessing I was starting to think there was seriously something wrong with me. When I looked at all the possibilities in front of me as to where my life could go, it was , in a word, scary. Well, scary AND daunting… okay two words. The pressure to DECIDE, PICK ONE, CHOOSE, was awful. I felt like I was letting my folks, and myself down. What was wrong with me?
I had so many interests! I was a dancer since I was 3 years old. Having had artistic abilities, I graduated with a Regents in Art diploma. I loved films and was fortunate enough to do an internship at the famed Actors Studio in NYC. And worked for 2 years after as an employee. I loved the Law, and many of my electives were in either Political Science or Criminal Law. I loved writing and had many things published in our college paper. I loved photography and dabbled (still do) in that.
There was NO WAY I could decide… I was feeling like if I chose just one, then I would have to give up the other exciting options that ALL held such interest for me.
One day my goddaughter’s mom said, “ you know M.A., we are scanners”…. I had never heard that expression before (except a really gory horror film by that name) SO I decided to look into it. Maybe if I had a better understanding of why I was different from my friends it might ease some anxiety.
So, according to Google, Scanners are “people who like to explore everything, try out many different careers and, as the title suggests, who “refuse to choose”. A scanner-type personality has a hard time focusing on one single occupation, hobby, or career. Intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner. Scanners are endlessly inquisitive.”
I read this passage over and over again. And as I did, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me… Okay, so I’m not crazy. Or stupid. Or unfocused. True, not everyone is a Scanner. In fact there is evidence to suggest we are genetically wired to be that way! But it certainly explained a lot for me. It made sense.
I’m inquisitive about a lot of things. My curiosity over the years about different professions has led me down some interesting paths. And there is not one that I would omit if I had to do it all again.
I have been a Teacher, Actress, Paralegal, Executive Director for Not for Profits, Grant Writer, News Reporter and Event Organizer. Whew….
Lessons Learned? I realized that in order for me to be happy I had to give myself permission to explore all the options before me. I really didn’t have to pick just one path. Life had presented me so many that I felt it was meant for me to take each one as far as I could, then switch gears. I have always had a roof over my head and my bills paid. At the end of my life I don’t want to look back and say “I should have tried that”… I do not want any regrets.
And I have none at all. Does this type of approach work for everyone? Only an individual can decide that for themselves. I was fortunate to have parents that understood and encouraged my life path changes. They taught me there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. And that I didn’t have to decide what to be when I grow up. The only way I COULD grow was to experience all that life offered and see where it takes me.
I’m still growing,
And still scanning.
You never know what lies around the corner.
And how exciting is that?