Person who who relentlessly fails to figure out what they “want to do with their life” and thus flits from interest to interest like a hummingbird among lilies. Often well-meaning, empathetic, and creative, the dilettante shoots him/herself in the foot over and over again by forsaking specific skills and knowledge and starting from scratch.
Traditionally, only royalty and aristocrats could play at dilettantism, but the type has proliferated since since mid-century prosperity in North America, Europe, and elsewhere has expanded the middle- and, especially, upper-middle class. The dilettante has reached its apotheosis in contemporary millennials, especially college-educated ones. They tend to feel alienated by corporate culture and spurned by the economic crisis, and postpone taking on family responsibility, which usually ends dilettantism, until later than previous generations.
The dilettante is an easy target for scorn, but essentially tragic, often overwrought, full of angst, sometimes tormented by the “grass is greener” fantasy. Most dilettantes eventually grow out of their dilettantism—making it a phase disease—and settle into something that provides constancy and direction to their lives.
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