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 Paid to Exist 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?
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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