A Scanner’s Journey

Once upon a time, Sententia was a religious studies blog.  My express aim in writing was to “help you understand everyone from your neighbour to people from cultures around the world.” It was a pretty lofty goal, and while I did enjoy much of the dialog that was spawned from it, I must admit that sometimes, it felt like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.  What would seem fascinating one moment would be utterly boring the next.

Little did I know that the reason for this was actually hinted at in my original “About” page of the site. The first paragraph of that page stated, much like it does now,

I began my university studies as a computer science undergraduate. I didn’t mind computer science — not at all, really — but as I am wont to do, I found my interest drift around from thing to thing, idea to idea and place to place.

And yet somehow, I thought that I would be able to sustainably write a blog about a single topic, for an extended period of time. Partly, I think that’s because I believed that I should be able to choose a single area of focus, and not constantly be drawn to other ideas and topics. Partly, because I wanted to be able to choose a single area of focus. And partly, because I thought that’s what a good blog was supposed to be.

You Mean There’s Nothing Wrong With Me?

Some months after finding that no, I really didn’t want to be writing about religious studies all day, all the time, I happened across a copy of what is now one of my all-time favorite books: Barbara Sher’s Refuse To Choose!. You can read an excerpt from the book here, but here’s just a brief paragraph to give you a taste:

Refuse to Choose!: A Revolutionary Program for Doing All That You LoveIntense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner. Scanners are endlessly inquisitive. In fact, Scanners often describe themselves as being hopelessly interested in everything (although, as you’ll find out, this isn’t so). A Scanner doesn’t want to specialize in any of the things she loves, because that means giving up all the rest. Some even think that being an expert would be limiting and boring.

If you know me at all, you’d know that I typify that statement. And recently, as I’ve contemplated a return to blogging, I’ve started to wonder if I can’t just “pick one topic” and write about that to the exclusion of all others, because to do so would be contrary to my “scanner” personality.

The Art of the Relaunch

That brings us to today, to now actually, and the relaunch of Sententia.net. I think I’ve got my intentions straightened out this time. Previously, I think I had visions of pro-blogger grandeur, changing the world’s views of religions. Somehow, I think I missed the memo that if your message isn’t about something that you’re passionate about, you don’t have much of a message. In my case, my passions are many, and so the topics of the blog will also be many.

This time, I have a much simpler idea in mind — to be more true to my scanner personality. In other words, to “refuse to choose” just one area to throw myself into entirely. Instead, I hope to build here a bit of a patchwork, a tapestry with threads of various colors, shapes and sizes. The thing I find most fascinating is how intertwined and interrelated things really are. I may be reading personal finance, and see something that hits on an idea I had regarding religious studies, or something completely different. It’s the connections and interplays that I want to be able to share, as I see them.

A Scanner’s Journey through Personal Development

“Personal Development” is somewhat of a buzzword online these days. It seems as though everyone and their blog (ahem) is trying to catch onto the wave of “PD”. And there are some great resources out there.

At a meta-level, I suppose you could say that I’m going to be using this space to show that having multiple interests isn’t a bad thing. I want to challenge the notion that if everyone would ever just pick one thing and stick to it, we’d be happier or better off.

Think of it as my experiment in charting my own version of “personal development” for scanners. I’ve read that there is nothing wrong with finding yourself pulled in a dozen different directions with a hundred different interests; now I want to experience it.

Everything Old is New Again

One question I wasn’t sure how to answer was “what about all those old postings?” Some of them are pretty good, if I do say so myself. Some of them lend themselves well to a broader focus. However, some were really narrow, really scholarly, or just plain boring.

As fate would have it, I added ProBlogger to my daily RSS reading yesterday. And what pops up in my RSS feed today? An article entitled Updating Old Posts On Your Blog, which talks about the value of updating old blog posts — to make them more accurate, to reflect a change in opinion, or to make them more useful and useable. And who doesn’t want to be accurate, up-to-date, useful and useable?

Currently, the site is back to basics, with only a few select posts from the old incarnation of the site that have already been republished. These are some of my favorite posts from the past, and are some of the ones that I feel best reflect my passions.

If you’re returning to Sententia for the relaunch, familiar with it from its previous incarnation, I hope you won’t run away screaming at the first sign of a non-religious-studies based post. Most of the old posts will most likely make a reappearance over time, as I’m drawn back to their subject matter, or as I find relevant connections to new things that pique my attention.

One for the Road

I have one last thought I’d like to share with you, as I (re)launch Sententia.

The quote again is from Refuse to Choose, speaking specifically of people like me, who find themselves constantly drawn in dozens of directions by dozens of different things and ideas; the jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none, the dilettantes and the dabblers:

Because your behavior is unfamiliar — even unsettling — to the people around you, you’ve been taught that you’re doing something wrong and you must try to change.

Why is that?

10 thoughts on “A Scanner’s Journey

  1. Another great Scanner story! It’s makes such a difference to read about others like you when you thought you were all alone. Thanks!

  2. Matt — Absolutely! Knowing there are others “like you” out there really does make a huge difference. It’s so important to know that not only is there nothing wrong with you, but you’re actually just like a whole bunch of other people!

    Anyway, great to hear from you, and I hope you’ll stick around! :)

  3. Well done ma’am! I was wondering if Sententia would ever resurface… this new formula makes waaay more sense (well for us scanners anyway!)

  4. Woot JB! Glad to see you found me / Sententia (again).

    I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to arrive at this idea. Maybe because it’s unconventional — in the blogging world, you’re always told that you should pick one idea and stick with it, or else no one will want to read what you’ve got to say.

    And yet… with this one post, I’ve managed to create more conversation than in almost anything I had previously written.

    Maybe it’s because scanners aren’t satisfied with the conventional, and when we’re told it’s okay to be unconventional, it’s exciting to us?

    Hm… must consider :)

  5. I have no idea how I found your blog–it seemed to suddenly appear in an open Firefox tab last night–but so far I’m finding it really interesting. I’m a scanner, too, and it looks like our interests overlap in several areas. I also tried writing a blog about one subject (personal finance) and have found myself unable to stay on topic for more than a few months! I’ve been blogging a little lately with a wider focus.

  6. @Working Rachel: Well, regardless of how you found your way here, I’m glad you did! I always love connecting with other scanners and sharing common interests. I find just giving myself permission to be “me” in my blog really has made it easier to write. Hopefully your wider focus will do the same for you! Looking forward to connecting with you more in the future!

  7. @Christy: Hm… now that sounds like an interesting idea, Christy! I’m going to have to think about this… already have some ideas bouncing around in my head… could be a lot of fun, and a good way to get the word out about some of the neat scanner blogs out there!

  8. Love the idea of a scanner blog network! Makes me think of the prehistoric Geocities interwebs-time when web rings were all the rage… 😉

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