Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (and Why We’re Better Off that Way)

Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (and Why We’re Better Off that Way)

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike.com.

You’re six years old and the teacher asks you to share what you want to be when you grow up.

An astronaut? A scientist? Superman?

Maybe you have an answer for her, maybe you don’t– it doesn’t matter.

The whole thing is more about ritual and eliciting cute replies than anything else. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is, after all, a fairly innocuous question… Isn’t it?

Actually, it’s not.

This particular question is loaded with all kinds of implications about what’s “normal.” It marks the beginning of a pattern that can cause a lot of pain and anxiety for many of us.

The problem isn’t so much in what’s said, but in what’s not said. The question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” implies that you have to BE one thing. One, as in singular.

Sure, some people are happy choosing a career, committing to one path and following through. But many of us simply aren’t wired this way. We have many interests and we’re good at a lot of different things. And you know what? That’s okay… It’s normal too.

The question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” implies that you have to BE one thing.”

The Invisibility of Multipotentialites

Asking kids to define their “one true calling” implies that there’s something wrong with having multiple callings. But that’s not even the worst part. The truly damaging thing about this question, is that it leaves us multipotentialites out entirely. Not only is there something wrong with us, we don’t even exist.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” leaves no room for being many things. That’s not even mentioned as a possibility. Nope, you’re one thing. You have one true calling– one destiny. That’s it.

The Pain and Anxiety this Causes

I get emails every day from people who always thought there was something wrong with them because they couldn’t find their “true calling.” But once they stumbled upon Puttylike and realized they were a multipotentialite – that multipotentialites are a group who exist! – everything made sense.

Suddenly they saw that there was nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, by following their hearts and not sticking to one path, they were doing exactly what they’re meant to do and living in a way that’s in line with their true nature.

The Alternative: Building a Life Around All Your Interests

As you guys well know, the way you generate income can be perfectly integrated with who you are, so that you spend your time doing work that lights you up and income simply rolls in as a result. That’s what Illuminated Mind is all about.

However, not only can you get “paid to exist,” but you can get paid to explore all of your interests and essentially become a “professional multipotentialite” too.

Creating a Platform that’s Fueled by Your Multipotentiality

One way to build a life around all your interests is to turn those interests into a business. You do this by creating a platform where you showcase all your passions, discuss many topics and use all of the skills that you picked up in past pursuits.

Instead of “overcoming” your desire to do many things, you turn it into fuel for income. This type of business is what I call the Renaissance Business.

The Tricky Thing About Bringing Your Interests Together

The biggest challenge when turning all of your passions into one business, is cohesiveness. You don’t want your platform to feel disjointed. That’s why you need an overarching theme.

An overarching theme is the force that drives you– it’s the motivation or philosophy that runs through everything you do and it bridges the gaps between your interests.

For example, the reason Tyler Tervooren can write about business, mountain climbing and dating on one platform, is that they’re all linked through the overarching theme of risk taking. Similarly, Chris Guillebeau can discuss travel, personal development, self-employment and art on his site without these topics feeling disconnected. He gets away with it because he too has an overarching theme: non-conformity.

As you can see from these examples, when people say that we all have “one true calling,” and that you must focus on only one path in life, they are quite simply wrong.

Don’t Deny Your Multipotentiality– Use It

Not having one true calling can be a wonderful thing. Having many interests, blending those interests and working at the intersections of different fields doesn’t make you indecisive or non-committal. It makes you original and innovative.

Don’t listen to the coaches and gurus who tell you that you must choose one path to the exclusion of all else. What they’re asking you to do, is deny the other parts of yourself and be someone you’re not. How could that ever be right?

Is something you’ve ever struggled with? Have you found a way to integrate many of your passions into your work?

About the Author: Emilie Wapnick is a writer and multipotentialite at Puttylike.com. She’s created an incredibly useful guide for people that want to make a living from all of their passions. It’s called Renaissance Business and I highly recommend that you take a look at it.

photo courtesy of dannynorton

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Erica Holthausen October 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm

It always amazes me when the perfect post comes at the perfect time! ahabraham introduced me to the concept of multipotentialites, scanners and passioneers yesterday. Today, I stumble into this piece and emiliewapnick’s blog at Puttylike. It’s so nice to know there are other folks out there with more than one calling.

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JonathanMead October 5, 2011 at 3:39 pm

@Erica Holthausenahabrahamemiliewapnick Emilie is truly a really genuinely great person. I’m lucky to live close enough to actually hang out with her here in Portland. Glad to have you stop by Erica.

MistyDenson October 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm

It is my opinion that what we are here for is simply put….To be happy & create. Lucky me! This means that I get to do alot of things & enjoy every minute of it : )

Love this blog Thank You for sharing! ~

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm

@MistyDenson Beautiful. And I bet waking up with such simple goals makes each day amazing.

DanRiha October 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I’ve been failing at finding my calling for decades. I don’t think you can use multipotentiality in a job. In fact I’m sure of it. You’ve got to create something for yourself.

I found my way to Puttylike through this site today (via Twitter) and I’m happy I did.

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w1978x October 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm

@DanRiha The best thing to do!

Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:47 pm

@DanRiha You’re awesome, Dan. You absolutely can use your multipotentiality in your work and there are many different ways to do it. I’m so sick of that standard guidance counselor-spouted rhetoric about finding your calling. Just look around– people who do many things are everywhere! (RIP Steve Jobs.)

fairgroundmedia October 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I agree with this completely! And liken it to our cultural search for “the One” romantically. This stuff gets so romanticized that it leaves us all to wonder where we went wrong! Some people divorce their spouse over such small differences, because “the One” must still be out there! When a relationship with a real, dynamic, different person is so much more of an adventure. There’s twists and turns.

In my field of design, I find the most creative outcomes emerge from the projects that have very defined limitations or problems to solve. And I think, to a degree, that life in general works that way.

We all have strengths, weaknesses, preferences, that we can use to create value and meaning in the world. And these qualities change and evolve! So, yeah, I don’t think people should be so worried about “the one true calling.” It’s a glittering concept of perfection that works in movies, but real life is much more dynamic (and more beautiful) than that.

Stephanie

fairgroundmedia.com

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JonathanMead October 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm

@Fairground Media You’re so right Stephanie. I think we have this romanticized notion about a lot of things in our life. The One True Purpose, The One True Love, The One True Religion. Even when we found our ideal in some or all of these areas, it doesn’t solve all of our life’s problems.

Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

@Fairground Media Really interesting analogy! Real life, be it our career paths or romantic life, is so much more complicated and messy than that idealized image we’ve been taught to believe in. And that’s a good thing. It makes life far more interesting.

DaisyHdez October 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I’m not alone!! I’ve always thought there was something wrong with me until late this year. I have been trying to “be” one thing, that being one thing would make things easier when explaining to people “what I do for a living”. Turns out what I was doing lost it’s appeal a few years back and I continued with it anyway. Even when I was a kid in school, I would always get a “flat line” in the aptitude tests, that I could go into anything. I found that to be a curse, but NO, I embrace it happily now! Thank you for such a great post. Now I have a name for it :D

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w1978x October 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

@DaisyHdez I like this! But, Did you know a great opportunity?

Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:41 pm

@DaisyHdez Ah messages like yours break my heart in a way. It’s mostly because I get them so frequently, it’s amazing. You are definitely NOT alone. And the “flat line” in aptitude tests? Haha yeah, I think many of us can relate… You’re a multipotentialite. Congratulations and welcome! :)

svehex October 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I never knew what I wanted to ‘be’, i.e. work as. (I don’t really like when they say you are your work.) In that sense, I still don’t. I want to be me. I want the opportunity to enjoy all the creative things I like to do, and hopefully make a living from it. My business incorporates several, but not all, of the things I love to do. Creating is what gives me energy, and keeps me going. Not working as a computer support person. That’s more draining than anything else.

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm

@svehex I’m not a fan of the work/life distinction either. I think we should all just do what we love (ALL the things we love) and do them in a way that contributes to the world in a positive way.

And yes, creating is the best feeling in the world. I must agree with you there.

ProcrastWriter October 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I don’t think I can even begin to explain how close to home this post just hit!! I have been dealing with having several passions all at once and am having a really hard time figuring out which one to focus my efforts on. I’m a writer, social media guru, writing coach and a holistic health coach… but I’d like to do it all without having to keep things so separate. I just need to do as you said and find my overarching theme. I am so thankful you wrote this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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JonathanMead October 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

@ProcrastWriter A theme is so critical. It makes it a lot easier to see how everything connects. Once you have that, it can be a kind of filtration mechanism.

Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm

@ProcrastWriter Yeah, I think you’ll find that an overarching theme will make all the difference. You might also want to check out some of the case studies I published over at Puttylike. This one for example: http://puttylike.com/case-study-brian-gerald/

Good luck with the brainstorming! And you’re welcome. :)

Joodie October 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

This is so dead on! I’ve spent more than a year now trying to find my “one thing” and getting completely depressed and upset with the entire process. I ended up doing absolutely nothing because I felt I couldn’t do just one thing right. Such a stuck and sad feeling. Thanks for sharing this, I need to read more about multipotentialites right away!

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JonathanMead October 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

@Joodie Emilie is really onto something big. I think she’s really going to explode in the next couple of years.

Glad you liked the post Joodie. :)

BonitaRoseK October 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm

wonderful post.. I am a renaissance soul.. get the book! and proud of that!

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:26 pm

@BonitaRoseK Thank you! Renaissance Soul is a great book, as is Refuse to Choose. Have you read that one?

Craig McBreen October 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Multipotentiality. My word of the day. I keep hearing that we need to find our passion. Well, what if we don’t have a one passion? People are multifaceted and this online world is great for expressing your multifaced-ness :)

I agree that blogging is the perfect platform for this. To showcase a bit of everything, right? I mean, you can have your niche or theme, but surround that with many different interests using your writing and/or video. Then infuse a bit of passion, be real and poof! There you go. Well … I’m just starting, but a boy can dream, right?

I certainly like the term, “Renaissance Business” I just started my blog as an accountability platform. Not a soul is paying attention anyway, right? :) So I can write and see what happens, just having the blog out there pushes me.

Nice post!

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm

@Craig McBreen Yup, exactly! There’s something really liberating about accepting that you may not have “one true passion.” It kind of takes the pressure off. And yes, multipotentiality and blogging mix beautifully together. Have fun with your blog. Hit me up at Puttylike sometime. I’d love to take a look. :)

eatmydssertfrst October 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

The worst advice anyone ever gave me was to find one thing that I’m good and do that ONE thing! Good thing I’m stubborn and understand that I wasn’t created to do just one thing and have resisted that advice ever since I first heard it! In fact, I laugh at it! Perhaps for some that advice is wise but for someone like me it’s the worst thing I could ever try to do!

But there is one thing that I’m passionate about and that is building women! Their self-worth, their self-esteem, their vision, their business, their politics and their lives! This has manifested in many ways: I write an inspirational blog, host a radio show, preside over a political consulting firm that represents female candidates and help women who desire to go into business for themselves figure out what it is they want go into business doing and help them get started! I have learned to use all of my talents-out-of-the box thinking, quick wit, strategy creation, great communication skills, gift of gab, creativity- to create something that I luv and am able to generate a great income from.

I luv that you have created a safe space for multipotentialites like us be who we are and even give us guidance on how to do it! This is awesome and I thank you!

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:22 pm

That’s fantastic, Leisa! It really does sound like you found a “theme” of sorts– that driving force behind everything you do. And it’s just like you described. Your motivation to empower women isn’t one “skill,” it’s much broader than that. It has a TON of different components to it and allows you to use all kinds of different skills. Amazing.

a_creative_life October 5, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Emilie! I call myself a Passion Pluralite, and it was only when I learned to embrace this way of being that things finally started to fall into place! I make art (many kinds), I write, I make music, I write songs, I teach, I inspire and coach creatives to follow their own bliss(es) — and EACH of these essential parts of who I am is part of my business as well.

Having many passions brings its own, unique challenges, but for those of us who are wired this way, there’s no other way to be. Yes, I’ve had to let go of diving deep into one thing and becoming “The Best In The World” at it, but I wouldn’t trade the way I am. It’s such a rich way to live.

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

@a_creative_life I completely agree. I’ve always “scanned” by nature, but it wasn’t till I became aware of what I was doing and dropped the fear of not being “one thing”, that life seemed to really take off.

I’m actually incredibly grateful for Puttylike, because I feel that it has given me permission to be the biggest multipotentialite in the world. After all, my career depends on it– gotta walk the walk, ya know? :)

MichiLantz October 6, 2011 at 5:46 am

Emelie (and of course Jonathan) –

Thank you for this! I just love synchronicity. This morning I pulled my hair, drank too many cups of coffee, started to listen to my self-doubt while trying to figure out how the bloody hell I could get my ‘creative juice’ into one place in a way that feels congruent.

Then, suddenly out of the blue, enters the submarine sound that alerts of incoming mail. Tada. A Unstream mail from Jonathan. Yay. Guestpost by Emelie. Even more yay. Then I read the magic word – overarching theme! Of course, so obvious that I could cry. The mind boggling started…hmm, what theme to wrap my potentialities around?

I have many shades on my palette and the challenge is, for me, to bring them together on my canvas and not be too ‘out there': Spirituality (I’m on an interesting journey commonly called Dark Night of the Soul), Art (Storyteller in words, photos and graphic design), Leadership (how to bring soul to company culture).

Anyone have an idea of an overarching theme for my somewhat scattered self? :) Again, thanks for this fantabulous post.

In’La Kesh, Michi

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm

@MichiLantz Hi Michi, first, thank you for the kind words.

Usually when I work with a student, we go through a number exercises to come up with patterns and find their overarching theme. It’s tough figuring out where your dots connect without running through the worksheets or hearing more about your interests in detail. However, from what you’ve said, it sounds like spirituality/soul is a big overarching theme for you: bringing soul to art, leadership and life. That seems to be what you’re all about.

spiritsentient October 8, 2011 at 8:53 am

@MichiLantz Hi Michi! I love what you’ve shared, and I’ve totally been there. Scattered would be an understatement for the old me. Now I’m focused with an over-arching theme, and it sounds related to what you’re about. Spirit + Art. My site provides Success-Consciousness For Creative People, and I think you may find some value there.As well, Emilie recommended more detail and doing some exercises, both of which I just posted today in my latest post: How To Have Fun Finding Your Life Purpose (With Pretty Pictures)!

Rock on!

sherahart October 6, 2011 at 7:29 am

I’ve always had many interests, just never thought to use them all for profit until I became a writer.

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm

@sherahart Writing is certainly a fantastic career for some multipotentialites. There’s a lot of space in there for exploring different topics and different styles.

gabyers October 6, 2011 at 8:07 am

Thank you. You have no idea how important it was for me to find this post today. I’ve spent too long thinking there is something wrong with me because I don’t have “one true passion”. You’ve given me a new way to look at things.

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm

@gabyers Oh I’m so glad. Thank you!

tishpiper October 6, 2011 at 9:28 am

This is a wonderfully poetic piece. Struggling with trying to merge a business mind together with a holistic spirit has been my nemesis, but with this viewpoint, I can see the “dot to dots” on how it’s all about integrating communications.

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm

@tishpiper That’s great Tish. There’s certainly a way to bridge business and your holistic spirit. It actually sounds like a very appealing twist on business– something that could make you really stand out.

spiritsentient October 8, 2011 at 8:46 am

@tishpiper Hi Tish! I agree with Emilie, that’s wonderful, and I don’t know if you’ve heard of Mark Silver over at http://HeartOfBusiness.com, but he specializes in getting to the holistic core of business. Hope that inspires!

SuiteJ October 6, 2011 at 10:19 am

My daughter (she’s 4) says she wants to be “a farmer and a singer” when she grows up and I wholeheartedly encourage her to switch it up and/or add things daily if she wants to. :) She also says she wants to marry Batman, but I’m not 100% on board with her on that one.

I’m in my thirties and only recently started to realize that I don’t have to figure out the “one thing I want to be an expert in”. It used to stress me out trying to decide what I would “leave behind”. Now, I’m finding it enjoyable to try and figure out how I can merge all my passions into one….and if I can’t, that’s cool too. :)

Awesome article. Thanks :)

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

@SuiteJ That’s darling. And your daughter is so lucky to have such an awesome dad. :)

There’s really nothing better than parents who encourage their children to embrace all their interests. I dedicated my book to my parents for that reason. :)

KJC October 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

Emilie,

This is brilliant, and much needed! Too often in our society multipotentialities are labeled indecisive, wishy-washy, etc. (especially in the business world). Now, if I could just pin down my overarching theme….:)

Thanks for the post!

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

@KJC Thank you! And I agree, that attitude is everywhere in society and it’s incredibly destructive. I’ve got some resources to help you pin down your overarching theme over at Puttylike. It’s a big part of my book, Renaissance Business. But if you browse around the site, you’ll also find a bunch of blog posts and case studies that should help. :)

pntszdinFluence October 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Ah…I so need this. I should read it every single day. Fighting the tears back because I’m at work and I don’t need/want the sympathy. This theme is a constant struggle with me. Off to google *multipotentiality*…I’m pretty sure I have that. Self diagnosis…LOL

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm

@pntszdinFluence Aw, I’m so glad I could help be a catalyst of sorts… And here’s a resource for ya: http://puttylike.com/terminology/

CMGalvin October 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I’ve had many ideas, and pursued many avenues that just stem from this one ideal. I changed my major 15 times while completing my Bachelor’s degree trying to determine what was the right path for me. It became a running joke amongst my friends. I’m learning that I shouldn’t feel bad, especially since I have the same job as my roommate even after he went and got his Master’s degree. I have a few of my next steps planned. I already have one start in my Etsy shop. I am working looking at starting my own business and doing freelance work. Seeing this today was a great affirmation that I was on the right path, even though it feels pretty awkward.

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Emilie October 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

@CMGalvin I bet you picked up some really interesting knowledge throughout those 15 degree changes! I too studied a bunch of different things in school (music, art, film, law…) it’s fun, exploring your passions, as long as you embrace your “scanning” instead of making it a source of stress or some sign of failing. Sounds like you’re starting to get to that point though, which is awesome!

saraboargs October 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I loved your post Emilie… it really spoke to me especially in this phase of my life… I hope we’ll meet someday :) keep being awesome!

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Emilie October 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm

@saraboargs Yeah, I’d love that Sara! Lets twitter it up.

Also, awesome pants!

spiritsentient October 8, 2011 at 8:44 am

This is amazing, such a great explanation of something I’ve always felt deep in my bones. Extremely well-timed as well, I just finished a post for my readers ( http://spiritsentient.com/how-to-have-fun-finding-your-life-purpose-with-pretty-pictures ) and I was giving a heads up to Jon + Reclaim Your Dreams, ’cause of the exercise on finding your values — and then I see Emilie’s guest-post on Multipotentialites. Brilliant!

I subscribed to PuttyLike, and I’m eager to know more. This is great stuff, and really helps the hyper-creative, artist types (we’re a goldmine niche :P there’s tons of us, and we’re under-served!)

Anyway, thanks so much Jon + Emilie.

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Emilie October 8, 2011 at 9:02 pm

@spiritsentient Hey Jason, I just replied to your comment on your article. We totally need to connect! :)

Marya | Writing Happiness October 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

This is a fantastic post, wish somebody tell me this every single time I am down on myself. All my life I have felt like Jane of all trades. One thing that I am sure about this that I love learning and growing as a human, nothing else ever stay the same. This is the reason my life has been so haphazard (worthwhile nonetheless) and never a straight line. But I am happy to be where I am and wouldn’t change it for the world. Good to know now I can quieten the voices in my head too when they start calling for my calling. Does it have to be one? Cheers. :)

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Emilie October 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm

@Marya | Writing Happiness Indeed. Straight lines are boring, who needs ‘em! :)

ladyterroreducation October 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I love this post. The myth of having the “one” life path has had me also worried and abxious about not following one way. I love theater, poetry, life coaching, street art and thrifting, they all have the theme of: Creative Empowerment. Once I relaized this I felt more open to embracing them all. Thanks for the post. I love your blog.

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Emilie October 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

@ladyterroreducation Thanks! Your interests are fantastic too. Sounds like a fun life to me!

de2 October 21, 2011 at 9:17 am

The question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one that many of us have struggled with, and felt painfully self-critical for not coming up with an “acceptable” label and role. But people like Emilie Wapnick (‘multipotentialite’) and Barbara Sher (‘scanner’) are reframing our serial passions and interests and talents as valid, and something to celebrate.

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Emilie October 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

@de2 That’s the idea. But we couldn’t do it if multipotentialites/scanners like you didn’t help. :)

EclecticBug October 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Oh Emilie, I love that word: ‘Multipotentiality’ and that saying: ‘It makes you original and innovative’. How inspiring to be accepted as learning and living in all directions and not be bottlenecked into one! I reckon I have worked out my overarching theme running through my life of : [Tiny details ~ big solutions] it’s come out in all sorts of directions and adapted my life as you say “Putty like” Thank you for sharing your insights

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Emilie October 29, 2011 at 2:45 am

@EclecticBug Ah I love that– [Tiny details ~ big solutions] ! What’s your URL? I’d love to check it out.

roguepolymath October 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Awesomeness! This polymath is glad he’s not alone. Keep up the great work!

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Emilie October 29, 2011 at 2:45 am

@roguepolymath He is most definitely not alone. :) Thanks!

lbergstrome November 2, 2011 at 10:42 am

In kindergarten my response was “cat”, go back a year to play-school and I wanted to be a “house”. I haven’t had clarity since :-)

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Emilie November 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm

@lbergstrome Hahaha yes!

JaclynRosalieHatlak November 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm

i’m 24 and i’m still struggling with this question. my first memory of being asked what i wanted to be when i grew up was “giant chicken”. my list includes “an artist”, “an opera singer” , “a mommy”, “a police officer”, “awesome”, “a rockstar”, “a cartoon”, “an actress”… and then as i got older, i wanted to be a counselor, a social worker, a hair stylist and makeup artist, a psychologist, a lawyer, a body modification artist/body piercer… the list went on… then i decided that i wanted to be HAPPY, when i grew up.

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michellehelen March 9, 2012 at 3:49 am

 @JaclynRosalieHatlak My word

michellehelen March 9, 2012 at 3:51 am

 @JaclynRosalieHatlak Yes! I’ve wanted and still want to be all of those things. The one thing I have noticed in this trend though is that ALL of my ideas involve communication, whether that’s communicating through art, listening to someone talk about their life, conveying personality through body modification. People think I’m absolutely bonkers! but I love it.

PaigeBurkes December 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I love this post and the permission it gives people to do what they know to be right for them. Out of high school I wanted to be a business manager for an artist or band (I had a business/analytical mind while all my friends were artists). Despite taking a test in college that told me I was best suited to be an air traffic controller, I was an accounting major and became a CPA for a while until I burned out. From there I went to dude ranch manager, outfitter and horse trainer, back to accounting and corporate finance. After telling myself that I wasn’t a writer for most of my life (although I could write a mean contract ;)), I have discovered that I love to write! My blogging career has opened my eyes to the real me and I’m eternally grateful to people like you who support this process of blooming.

Like others here, I’m working hard to instill in my young children that they can be whatever they want and can change whenever it suits them. Being happy is the goal!

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RomainCurutchet January 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I have yet to start a blog though I have really wanted to in the past 6 months; the reason I didn’t do anything is because I had so many small disparate interests that I didn’t see myself committing to writing on only one interest. This led to many different blog ideas and no action taken.Now, after having given it some thought, I am definitely going to start a “renaissance business”.

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RomainCurutchet January 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I have yet to start a blog though I have really wanted to in the past 6 months; the reason I didn’t do anything is because I had so many small disparate interests that I didn’t see myself committing to writing on only one interest. This led to many different blog ideas and no action taken.Now, after having given it some thought, I am definitely going to start a “renaissance business”.

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CMGalvin January 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm

@RomainCurutchet The important thing is to just start. You can refine your topics as you go along. Or not. You may find that variety is your strength.

BonitaRoseK January 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

I honestly have so many interests and have so much fun and joy doing ea one… the tricky part is merging them all onto an online business that can afford me to live the life I dream of, and still do what I love, day in and day out.. I don’t hv to be any one thing.. u are right.. I don’t.. I can be me.. with all these passions and share them all. xo loved re reading this post. xo

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SoloZendo March 11, 2012 at 6:48 am

Always interesting when I go out looking for new jobs, and they ask me, “You spent the last five years doing _____. Why do you want to change?” As though moving on were a sign of failure or giving up or looking for greener pastures. Where’s your sense of adventure, people? But seriously, trying to shoehorn all your interests into your job or a narrow area of focus… maybe it works for some. Not so much for me. It’s actually easier to just find a decent job that isn’t too odious, and use it to finance all my other interests. Sort of like DIY venture funding via the 9-to-5.

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teresacapaldo March 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

This article is greatly appreciated!   Wapnick is spot on.  As someone who has never been “one dimensional” I have experienced so much of what she describes with the stigma of society demanding each of us picks ONE thing to do in life and we do that for all our lives.  It is not the 50’s…thank goodness for that.  Women especially, have more opportunities than ever to “bring home the bacon”, and if desired, they can be earners and dedicated parents too.
 
I’m glad there is real dialog taken place on this subject.
Thank you.

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cdstern March 19, 2012 at 12:05 am

You’ve got me thinking about my overarching theme! Thanks.

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LawrencePolsky May 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

Thank you!  This totally freed me up from a internal conflict I have had for years!  Excellent!

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ChrisLappin June 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

I absolutely loved this post & will definitely be sharing it.
Thanks for the link to Jonathan’s free download too.
 
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong when I shift, change directions & go against the norm. 
As I go though life I change as a person through my life experiences, so why shouldn’t what I do change too?
 
Now in my late 40s I’ve finally found a way of integrating my passion of helping & supporting others with a business &, tho’ it’s early days with lots to do, I feel content. Before I did work that ticked some, but not all, of the boxes & I always felt something was missing.
 
Thanks for this Emilie & for helping me feel abnormally normal!!

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BRANDARA July 21, 2012 at 1:20 am

My dad is still “concerned” that I don’t have a full time job. With his 35 years of Accounting at the one firm, he just doesn’t understand anything else. Bring on the new generation!

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Bill Widmer February 26, 2013 at 3:42 am

Wow, this article really sums up a huge part of my life haha, I’m glad to see there are other people out there who agree with me. I was at a job recently that wanted me to drop everything for them and only do one thing, and they were trying to change who I was as a person. But, that’s just not me. I’m the kind of person who loves to have like 8 different hobbies that I do in a day, and I hate being forced in to only one of them. Great article!

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Pepper March 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Amazingness in awesome sauce!!!

Looking forward to reading more.

xoxo

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Louie May 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I don’t know if I am a “multipotentialite”… but I have been having very large issues with figuring out the path I wish to go. I should also mention that I cannot seem to find something that truly interests ME– my “interests” usually vary by week or month, and tend to be inspired by something I’ve seen SOMEONE ELSE do.

That said… I think what you are saying is ultimately good, but it is not always realistic. Multipotentialites can “embrace” their difference, yes, but in many cases I can see it spiraling and leading to depression because they cannot follow ALL of their dreams (especially if they are very specialized, singular, and require in-depth schooling or commitment). I struggle with that, personally.

At this time, I have been beating myself up because I can’t decide if I want to go into the military (to become a pilot, k9 handler, or medic… which would also mean I could only choose ONE– leaving the other two I love to rot in my mind of “what if?” I already know the Special Forces is impossible, so that also makes me feel empty and unfulfilled), pursue a law enforcement career (FBI, police, forensic scientist, k9 handler, etc.), or things entirely different. I also have Dyscalculia, and I know it lends to my depression, because every time I think of– let’s say a pilot– I know that I probably can’t achieve that due to math difficulties.

I am about to graduate high school, and even though I am taking a year off to try and get things together, I can’t help but cry myself to sleep every night. I want to do so many things, but I also want nothing to do with anything… the conflict hurts; the dangerous self-doubt kills. I don’t know what to do. In the things I am considering, I NEED to choose just one. “Accepting” myself how I am is not attainable for me, and I am sure others have experienced a similar complication.

Regardless of all that, I want to thank you for your post. It gives consolation and hope to so many.

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Tom June 21, 2013 at 6:29 am

I almost cried while reading this post. Exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been struggling with my blogging identity, trying to figure out that one thing that will set me apart. I’ve been doubting myself beyond belief. How can I honestly decide to write a health/fitness blog while pursuing jazz trumpet and music education? And then, doubting the usefulness of my blog because it doesn’t focus on only one thing.

Perhaps now I can just find that overarching theme to it all, try some stuff out and feel better about things moving forward.

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see this here July 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so
I came to give it a look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
Outstanding blog and terrific style and design.

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TANTOH WILFRED August 9, 2013 at 1:34 am

i love this whole idea i wanna be part of it

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Lisha September 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I really resonate with this post because I’m am definitely a multipotentiality (I had to go look back up to see how that’s spelled, lol).

paidtoexist and puddylike are so inspiring for people like me who just want to basically be free to be me! :)

~Lisha

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Sorin September 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I’m one of those….:D

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Maiken September 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

Thanks so much for this post. Great article, it really resonates with me!

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Christian September 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

What an amazing piece. This really helped me think differently for once. I have always tried to deny myself multipotentialites because I thought that I had to find the one true calling. The consequences are that I have forced myself into a career path that I no longer enjoy, even though the money is great. At 23, I felt like I have to start all over again and was starting to feel a bit depressed that I still couldn’t figure out what I truly wanted to do. Now I know better how to approach this problem.

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Lara December 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm

What if you don’t have ANY calling?

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Lara December 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm

What if you don’t have even ONE calling?
What if you don’t have any passions??
Not to say there are things I don’t like–I enjoy many activities, objects, volunteering–but I can’t say any of them are passions.

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Danielle December 20, 2013 at 3:54 am

I’ve been struggling for a very long time…. Hearing people can have many interests helps but… what happens when your interested in Disney, the gaming industry, makeup, interior design, travel, photography. You know you have no skills to land you a job in either, it would be hard to leave your family, you have little self confidance, you want to earn GOOD money, a decent title, you don’t want to give up your personal life, And you have no idea where to begin? Your even afraid to start for fear anything you start may not lead to a career at all, or you’ll just end up being a no body? Please email me back I would really appreciate it.

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Jn January 8, 2014 at 3:52 am

This ‘One-True calling’ has been a disease in my life until I read your blog I really accepted it as a curse and so does my mom. I’m 23 , an engineering Graduate, but my interests were always Event Management and Literature and Law. Until I read this I almost gave up. This is my second job, pays well but I don’t want to be here. Thanks for inspiring me!

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HellFire Dragon January 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

Accept it, some of us are useless anyways and nothing anyone can say can change that. Interests don’t matter, no one’s going to pay you to like stuff. I know that. Stop trying to fill people with false hope, that is probably the worst crime anyone can do, really just stop kidding yourself and accept that you can’t do some things. I’d rather just sit here, do nothing and not give a damn, because i know there’s nothing good in me. Don’t bother trying to convince me otherwise, it is FACT, some people are worthless, and some are just f*cking rich brain dead b*st*rds who don’t give a f*ck, and neither do I. There’s no such thing as multipotentialities or a variation of so called skills, we’re all screwed to waste our pointless lives doing pointless crap that really, never got us anywhere in the first place. Poor deluded souls, give up while you can suckers, or it’ll hurt more when you inevitably FALL. We FAIL, we LOSE, we get OVERSHADOWED. Don’t tell me this is worth being a part of because it’s not. Idiots.

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Rich February 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm

This post actually reminded me of the book series “Divergent” where society attempts to align people based on their single strongest attribute, and then runs into people who have multiple strengths.

In regards to purpose though, would it not be better into thinking how one wants the world to be better and how they can serve, rather than out of what they get out of it or self-focused? What one is and wants matters, but I would say a good way to know is find the intersection of passion, competency and relevance/need of others, and do that.

And one last thing, I think with the change one is facing, one’s purpose/life calling is best to NOT be represented by a job title.

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Tom Reber March 3, 2014 at 6:52 am

Awesome post. I started my biz a couple years ago and I always felt it was much bigger than just coaching…bigger in the sense of impact.

Over the past few months I’ve been finding that ‘platform’ or theme.

I’m into personal development, kettlebells, music, business and family. I speak and coach, but was having a hard time pulling it all under one roof that made sense. Recently, the theme that keeps coming up is: Strength. How everything I do is to help people be strong..in life, biz, etc…

Your post is affirming that I am on the right track. Thank you!

MOTORhard,

Tom

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Ali March 6, 2014 at 4:50 pm

My problem is that nothing appeals to me if I have to do it for money. There are many things I like – web development, writing, usability and user interface design, and art direction, along with fashion design, fine arts, addiction recovery, and politics – but I am not able to do them independently from my home.

You see, I have PTSD and it prevents me from getting along with others in a typical office environment. I have been the bully’s target and scapegoat for everything wrong with the business at, no joke, every single professional job I have held. I have attempted to work independently to no avail, as the work that pays the bills is not something I am able to do remotely. I could attempt to subsist off of “freelance” work but the pay is very bad and the clients are even worse. They, too, take advantage of me. People with severe PTSD are frequently targets of users, bullies, narcissists, and frauds.

That is why the only thing I can imagine doing day in and day out is being a housewife. I would enjoy taking care of the home and looking nice for my husband at the end of his work day. It is the only legitimate role I can see myself in. Doing anything for pay has just not worked out for me, and the only way I can feasibly contribute to the household income is through SSDI.

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Ahmad April 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Thats really great but when you take about someone who have more than one passion but what about the one who doesnt have any interest or passion in life?!?! Or doesnt feel happy or find him self in any career or job he did or heard of?!?! Every thing pass by like anything thing else no passion and no interest even in a sport or personal hoppy

I think this great post for those great persons that have passion for alot of different things not only one passion and thats hard to find and actully i am envy the two kinds because what i am talking about is zero intrest in any thing in life

Sorry its depressing and i am not like that at all but thats a huge proplem for me right now and i would love to study for 7 years a major then i dont find my self in and i will go to the path i love and i find my passion in but the proplem theres no such thing in my dictionary

Great post btw

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Seven December 2, 2014 at 4:07 am

Interesting post. Definitely applies to me. I spent all of my twenties miserable watching my friends and family graduate in specific degrees, with a set plan of what they wanted to do with their lives, then move straight into relevant careers, train up and move into well paid jobs by their 30s.

I have jumped from tutoring to finance to admin to writing to art and back again! I have two degrees in entirely opposite fields, have technical training in multiple areas such as accounting, teaching, fine arts, graphic design and software editing.

It is only recently that I have found a job in a start up that lets me use a combination of finance experience, report writing, animation, marketing and various other random skills I’ve picked up along the way. They get seven employees for the price of one, and I get a job that finally FINALLY doesn’t bore me to tears, where I get to learn a new software program or skill every single month! I get paid directly for results, in whatever field. It’s a perfect contract and one I would definitely recommend to others who can resonate with this post.

You will never be happy stuck in a specialist job. Learn about business and get involved with a start up. Learn all the different skills needed for that business, so you can help by offering the business owners a great top down perspective and by being able to jump into any role (or pick up a new one) as needed. Watching a business grow is exciting and demanding enough to satisfy your brain!

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DaisyHdez October 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm

@w1978x I’m not quite sure what you mean. If you’re referring to me sticking to what I was doing because I saw it as an opportunity, nope. I stuck with it for fear of being considered a person without direction, I stopped caring finally though which is when I decided to leave that path.

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w1978x October 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Ok, i´m understand, you have reasons to do and take a good determinat.

Take a time to do the best performance.

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MistyDenson October 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Im new to PDX! I gotta get to know some of you kewl peeps!

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm

@JonathanMead@Erica Holthausenahabrahamemiliewapnick Thank you, Erica! I’m so glad we’ve managed to connect. And thanks Jonathan… haha and Abe, my little brother. (I miss you.)

<3

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm

@JonathanMead@Joodie Wow– thank you Joodie! This makes me overwhelmingly happy. Lets connect up on Twitter and keep in touch.

And Jonathan, your faith in me means so much. Thank you for giving me a platform to share my message!

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Emilie October 5, 2011 at 10:52 pm

@MistyDenson PDX is fantastic! I just moved here a few months ago. Hit me up on Twitter and we’ll grab a tea.

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MistyDenson October 5, 2011 at 11:10 pm

@Emilie Well I run my own company and its a start up….need I say more? haha The craziness mixed with the vision & innovation makes for quite a roller coaster ride, but hey I have loved roller coasters since I was 8! LOL I have done everything against all odds and advice and am still here ; P When its overwhelming I just remember to Be Happy and Keep Creating. Ty again You Rawk!

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BonitaRoseK October 6, 2011 at 5:38 am

I haven’t.. I’ll look it up!

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Craig McBreen October 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

@Emilie Emile, Thank you! I’ll check out Puttylike for sure.

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DanRiha October 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm

@Emilie I took a standardized career placement test in middle school. According to that, I should have been a hairdresser or flight attendant. Thank goodness I didn’t pay it much mind as those couldn’t be worse fits.

Emilie, you’re like a guru and a mini-messiah or maybe a wilderness guide, lifting some branches aside and telling us, “There’s another path over here…”

Thanks so much.

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MichiLantz October 7, 2011 at 3:34 am

@Emilie Thank for your answer. You just gave a sweet kick in my butt. I went to your site and read about your services and book. Just what a multipotentialite needs – a sparring partner to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Thank you! :)

So I just bought your Renaissance Business and will take a heartfelt splash right into it.

In’La Kesh (as the Mayan say – I am another you and you are another me)

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Emilie October 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm

@MichiLantz Aw you’re awesome, Michi. Thank you. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions after going through the book. :)

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Emilie October 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

@DanRiha Hahaha– lets go with wilderness guide. ;)

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tishpiper October 9, 2011 at 6:35 am

@spiritsentient Thanks for the tip!

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spiritsentient October 9, 2011 at 7:47 am

@Emilie Consider it done — LOVE what you’re about! :)

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MichiLantz October 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm

@spiritsentient Jason, thanks for your comment and encouragement! I have started to read your blog. Great stuff there. I will follow your work and messages. Thanks for your work and insight :)

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spiritsentient October 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm

@MichiLantz _ Thank you, Michi! I value every connection, and am always ready to share my message :D Keep rockin’!

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