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 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?

Want to integrate all of your passions into an offering that gets you paid to be who you are?

Join a tribe of like-minded renegades, get the training you need to identify your passion, and build your creative empire. Trailblazer helps you even if you have no idea what you’re passionate about, or how you can make money doing something you really care about.

Stop sacrificing your time for freedom someday, build a life and business you don’t want to escape from now.

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

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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… Read more »

[…] it wasn’t the answer that I was looking for. Random key words on Google search led me to this article and everything started to make sense. It sounds like a no-brainer, I have many interest and […]


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.

see this here

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.


[…] is why I enjoy reading this on ‘paid to exist. I’m going to let this sink in…and think about a way of integrating more […]


i love this whole idea i wanna be part of it


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! :)



I’m one of those….:D


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


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.


[…] Emilie Wapnick articulates the point brilliantly in her post ‘Why some of us don’t have one true calling (and why we’re better off that way)&#8… […]


What if you don’t have ANY calling?


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.

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… Read more »

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!

HellFire Dragon
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… Read more »
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… Read more »

[…] Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (and Why We’re Better Off That Way) […]


[…] it puts you back in control. You can always choose to be passionate. You can choose to give even if you’re not immediately feeling the […]

Tom Reber

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!



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.… Read more »
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… Read more »

[…] So I typed that question at Google and out came a very interesting guest post by Emilie Wapnick at paidtoexist.com. It was entitled, “Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (And Why We’re Better Off That Way)&#8…. […]

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… Read more »

[…] this make any sense? If not, I stumbled across this and this that I think are along the same lines of what I’m trying to say. I’ll keep practicing […]


[…] “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 display all your passions, discuss many topics and use all of the skills that you picked up in past pursuits.” Jonathan Mead – Your True calling […]

This is a wonderful and comforting article, thank you. Like most people here, I have struggled for years and years with the ultimate question of what my “life’s purpose” is and what my career should be. I have often become very despondent because I have never been able to pursue one thing and one thing alone. Whenever I think I’ve decided on the “right” thing to do, a few days later I’ll feel very anxious about having to give up some of my other interests… which include animal welfare, natural medicine, environmental conservation, travel, writing/poetry, psychology and photography. I have… Read more »

[…] won’t choose an idea that they can be passionate about long […]

Lea lorusso

I am 19 years old and will be turning 20 in september. I graduated waited high school in 2013. My mom gave me 7 months to chill. I got a job at safeway from February to July , I quit. I feel like I’m in a RUT and don’t know how to get out of it. I want to make money and better myself.. I don’t know what I’m supposed to go to school for or what kind of job I should get, honestly I don’t want to be do either and don’t know what’s wrong with me.

A while back, before going to college, when I was trying to find which major to focus on, I read a post somewhere on this exact topic. Now, as a college drop-out, I’ve sat for many hours in my room trying to decide on a major so that I can go back. Honestly, when I started college, I had a major, but then I stepped back and doubted if I truly wanted to do that specific major. So I went in undecided and watched as many people spent their college days with a purpose, and “end goal”. I felt like… Read more »

[…] this article points out, too many of us constantly fret and worry that something is wrong with us because we […]

Thank-you so much for this post! I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief! I have a lot of skills and talents and spent most of my childhood and adolescence as a member of every sports team, club, music ensemble and organization in school. I also used to spend my free time crafting or sewing with my grandmother. I remember being forced to take this stupid test in 11th grade which was supposed to tell you what career you would be best suited for. The results were shown on a line graph . Ideally you were supposed to… Read more »
I wish I would have read this years ago, it would have saved me from a lot of frustration. I always read and heard about finding your one true passion. So I have tried and tried to find one thing, but I love learning about new things and get bored and uninspired just doing one thing. I have worked in welding, telecommunications, sales. driving and a bunch more things. I don’t really mind doing a job as I learn how to do it but after that I just have a hard time continuing. I like art, music, science, creating, reading… Read more »

[…] So I typed that question at Google and out came a very interesting guest post by Emilie Wapnick at paidtoexist.com. It was entitled, "Why Some Of Us Don't Have One True Calling (And Why We're Better Off That Way)". […]

Daníel Páll Smárason
Daníel Páll Smárason
I consider myself to be a deep and intelligent person. I have much greater logical sense than most people and therefor I am good in debates and understanding logic without putting feeling into it and having them mess up my opinions. I’m good at writing and always get a perfect or close to a perfect score for essays and such things at school. When I start writing I completely lose myself in it and before I know it I’m far over the length requirement of the paper. I’m also good at making up stories. I have a really good memory… Read more »
Amanda Tomasoa
So… My dream of setting up a Cafe (probably here in New Zealand) with my art on the walls, a section for entertainment (So my singer hubby can sing and I can too (and show off some of my original songs) and have guests artistes… with a side store selling my art, decorative items and other gift ideas… and a dress up theme days is not so far fetched after all? :) A book corner for readers and a section for those who longs for companionship and chit chat is not too ambitious either? I also want a place for… Read more »

[…] pursue and have those options open. I can go back to university or go back to college. I read this article on something called Multi-potentialities. Basically its a term for people who have many different […]

Yay! I finally have a name to put to how I feel so often! Not having a “path” to follow and keeping that childhood question of “who do you want to be when you grow up?” Stuck in my head for years has stressed me for so long. I contemplate everything daily it seems. I have worked in Customer Service and excelled with helping people but never really excelled at my job title. I went to school for IT cause others aid I would be good at it, but I’ve faced so many walls all the time when I try… Read more »
Insightful, i can relate with many things in the post as also with the commenters, I think i never identified that ”random” situation with a name, so it’s good to get a label on it as a quick reminder. I remember when i started writing (self-pubbed) and making music (same way) and i worked temporarily as a pollster when job was on the table, i felt i was ”trying to hard” and the sad part is that now i realize so many of us might actually do ”stop” at that feeling thinking we are being a wrong kind of ”childish”… Read more »

No one ever says you need to be only one thing. Even teachers who ask the question of their students are used to hearing answers like, “I want to be a fashion designer and a scientist,” and it’s prefectly acceptable. They’re just kids, after all. It seems like you’re making this a “me against the world” situation when it really is not.

I really don’t agree with this blog post. I think that people that haven’t found their passion shouldn’t be encouraged to give up in the name of dabbling and having potential in many things. That’s kinda dumb because we all know that if we are spread thin we won’t succeed at anything. I believe the Creator did give us each a unique talent and gift and if we haven’t found it–we just haven’t found it. Why discourage people not to find it? Sometimes it just takes some of us a little longer to find it, who God made us to… Read more »
Hi Melanie, this is not about giving up on your passion or gift or true calling. I do 1 to 1 work with people all the time. I can’t tell you if they all have one true calling, but I can tell you they all have MANY gifts and talents that the world needs, not just one. And they don’t need God to show them all these talents, they just need a little help to learn to see them. If you can’t find your true calling now (it isn’t easy for all of us) it is better to serve the… Read more »
Multipotentialite is a very interesting concept. Until today I had never heard of it, however I knew I wasn’t meant to do just one thing. I mean, ever since I was little I’ve had an interest in almost everything and now here I am 21 years old learning two languages (mainly focousing on Japanese right now), getting ready to go to college to be a teacher, running a book business and that’s just part of it haha. I’m the kind of person that gets very antsy doing just one thing, therefore I like to spread my wings and try all… Read more »

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