Do you constantly feel like everyone else has a calling, but every time you think you've figured yours out, it expires soon after you dive in? Every time, you say, “Yes! This is finally it. I have my specialty, just like everyone else.”
But then, you find something even better, and the original ideas are left behind. Are you overwhelmed with the number of interests you have? Are you struggling trying to pick just one?
Surprise. You're not alone, even though it certainly may feel that way. You could be what Emilie Wapnick, the creator of puttylike.com, calls a multi-potentialite. She describes a multi-potentialite as a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life, and she compares them to the “specialists” they're trying so hard to be like.
Wapnick states, "Unfortunately, mainstream society tends not to value or recognize multi-potentiality, and labels this sort of 'jumping between interests' as flaky, immature behavior. For a specialist, that might be true. But for us multi-potentialites, saying goodbye to one passion to explore a new one is how we're wired. It's our gift."
She explains that other names for this personality type are generalists, multi-passionates, multipods, scanners and slashers. She goes on and jokes how it's fitting that they can't all agree on one name for themselves. Would it really make sense if they could?
Tamara Fisher, a K-12 gifted education specialist, writes, "Multi-potentiality is the state of having many exceptional talents, any one or more of which could make for a great career for that person." She then adds, "This can be both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, they have many realistic options for future careers. But on the downside, some of them will struggle mightily trying to decide which choice to make."
She focuses on school-aged children, and asks them the age-old question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As expected, some of them have a direct response with one specific profession, and some (young multi-potentialites) list an assortment of career paths, all aligning with all of their varied interests.
Maybe you want to be a math teacher, but you also really love architecture. Your favorite hobby is playing guitar. You could also have a dream of being a makeup artist, or want to learn how to sail.
Don't let the world make you choose among these interests. This is terribly difficult because nowadays, so much money goes into choosing your passion and career path. But nothing you learn or apply yourself to will ever bring you down. Even if your route in life changes, you can still move forward. You have no idea how that prior knowledge will eventually play a part in your overarching plan.
End your struggle of choosing one path by simply not doing so. There is beauty in the fact that you have such broad interests. The only reason it feels wrong is because that's what society says. From the moment you're born, you're expected to fit yourself into a specific category. But some of us are not perfect circular pegs that fit into the circular hole.
Flourish in your multi-potentialism. Embrace your chaotic mind, and grasp your dreams as often as they come to you. Once you're able to accept the fact that you may never pick one journey to stay on for the rest of your life, it will be much easier to succeed in the direction you're currently choosing.
Don't force yourself to hold onto something you no longer love. This goes for all aspects of life.
Often times, people mistake this positive quality for a negative one, and feel that they have a poor sense of self. They have so many interests, and feel like there isn't one that's shining in the distance, reaching out its hand to them by saying, “This is what you're meant to do."
In turn, they see where other people are succeeding, or what society is telling them to do. They latch onto that.
Maybe your friend, parent or Instagram idol has a solid job or career path, and seems happy. Someone who doesn't know what to do, or a multi-potentialite who hasn't yet embraced his or her ways, may have a lightbulb go off and think, "That seems like what I want. This person is happy."
He or she follows that “passion” until it runs dry because it's not what that person truly wants. It's good to try on different pursuits for size, but in the end, the reason you can't find your calling is because it doesn't exist yet.
There is a way to channel all of your positive energy, drive and lust for life into a power plan: It's just a matter of figuring out how. It doesn't happen overnight, but you won't be satisfied by fitting into a pre-made mold or copying someone else's idea, either.
Still not picking up what I'm putting down? Fear not. My theory is you could be an entrepreneur.
That sounds cool, right? Now, I'm sure some entrepreneurs grow up thinking, “This is exactly what I want to do with my life.” Then, they continue on and make that idea happen.
But more often than not, in order to come up with an innovative idea, you need to have a wide breadth of knowledge in many different areas. In today's day and age, it's rare to come up with something new in an already established field. The true innovators take multiple different strategies and interests, and then put them all together to create something original and different.
Wapnick channeled her many talents into helping other people figure out the right direction to go in. She coaches her fellow multi-potentialites, and guides them to find a way to satisfy all of their goals. There's a whole community of these people on her website, and they're called the "Puttytribe."
This tribe is essentially a gathering of multi-potentialites who collaborate and encourage each other on their latest ideas. She found a way to channel all of her energy and talents into helping people and creating a new resource and environment. If that's not entrepreneurial, I don't know what is.
I have been the college student and recent graduate struggling to find my calling, which is what led me to find out more about this unique trait. Personally, my one constant has always been writing. I love to travel, I love to cook and I love new media and communication. I've always wanted to create blogs, do graphic design and even get into coding.
But I've also come to the conclusion that I belong in culinary school. This is hard to do when you have a job in marketing, and when you want to make a documentary. It also doesn't help that you're busy teaching yourself political science and international relations because of your newfound interest in those topics.
Because my experience consists mostly of working for nonprofits and event planning, I was left feeling like I didn't really have a point to jump off from. I have a notebook full of ideas of things I want to do with my life. It used to be frustrating, but now, I'm using it to my advantage.
Instead of discouraging myself from pursuing anything other than what I am currently doing, I'm embracing and combining all these interests. It's not easy, but this is the struggle of the multi-potentialite.
While it may seem like a daunting task, you can find a way to do it all. Sure, you maybe won't do it all at the same time and with the same capacity. But the point is, don't let the feeling of being overwhelmed by your many talents and passions bring you down.
Don't be the star-shaped peg trying to fit into the circle-shaped hole. Make a new hole altogether.
This article was originally published here.