“I’m someone who has never been able to answer the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’. See, the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have any interests, it was that I had too many.” – Emilie Wapnick
I have always been the sort of person who had ten extra hobbies, and those hobbies would often change through time. For six months to a year I would become completely obsessed with a topic, learn everything there was to learn about it, and then drop it like it was hot, and I absolutely cannot let something go until I have exhausted my research in that area, until I have learned everything there is to know about that topic. And more than that, I have always been worried that if I take only one life path that I will be missing out on so many wonderful opportunities. This creates a mindset of not wanting to choose anything at all, just like Sylvia Plath talks about in her book The Bell Jar:
Before last week, I knew this about myself, but it never had a name. Then I watched a Tedtalk given by Emilie Wapnick, and realized that there was a name for what I was. In fact, there were many names–Renaissance man, polymaths, scanners. Discovering that this was a…thing, helped me to redirect my way of thinking from shame about never having one true calling, to acceptance. I never really allowed myself to be happy thinking that I didn’t have one true calling, because, as Emilie Wapnick states in her Tedtalk, society has romanticized the idea that having one set career goal is the only way you can be successful. But having discovered this, I can now move forward with my life confident in knowing that there is nothing wrong with not having one true calling. It’s funny how giving a name to something gives you power over it.
That is a concept that’s usually prevalent in fantasy stories. The naming of things. Well, now this thing has a name. Multipotentialite. If you are like me, perhaps this will give you power over your life as well. I think creative people all have this trait, to a degree. That’s why we are able to produce such unique art. No two people could ever possibly be the same type of multipotentialite.
So how do you know if you’re a multipotentialite? Well, for starters, watch her video below:
Then think about these questions:
- Do you often become obsessed with a topic and then grow bored of it after learning everything there is to know about it?
- Do you often have several projects going on at once, and are able to juggle them successfully?
- Do you feel that having only one career path in life would be boring and not utilize your full potential?
- Do you have multiple hobbies that, in your mind, are more important to you than your job?
- Do you consider your job to only be a source of income while you pursue your real passions on the side?
- Or are you passionate about your work, but have multiple streams of income through different passions and jobs?
- Are you worried that if you take one job you might miss out on other opportunities?
I am not claiming to be an expert on this topic, but these questions are some food for thought. Maybe if Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of The Bell Jar (who is very much a reflection of Sylvia Plath’s own spirit), had chosen multiple figs, then maybe she wouldn’t have had to watch them all wither. Maybe it’s ok to pick multiple figs and enjoy them all equally. Discovering multipotentialitism has opened up a whole world of inspiration for me, and perhaps it could also serve to inspire you too.
So pluck a few figs and start feeding your soul.