My Multipotentiality And Its Challenges
“Any man who bears the ability of a polymath shall not be interfered by specialty, he needs discipline to manage his behaviors and nurture his creativity.” - Shawn Lukas
Multipotentiality is a term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly an individual of a strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields. A multipotentialite's interests span multiple fields or areas, and by contrast, people whose interests lie mostly within a single field are called "specialists."
Personally, I’ve been a multipotentialite ever since I can remember. And believe it or not, but for a very long time, I thought there was something deeply wrong with me. I just simply couldn't stick to one single interest like the majority of people around me, even if I desperately wanted to. Every time I mastered a field, I had this growing desire to move on to the next one, and I struggled with having to take that decision.
Throughout my childhood and youth, my parents never interfered with these pulsions. In fact, on the contrary, they even encouraged my compulsive curiosity for music, arts, dance, modeling, acting, equestrians, flora, fauna, biology, science, literature, sports, geography, traveling, languages and I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a few here. As an adult, I burnt through so many different occupations and industries that eventually, I ended up failing miserably at making my Curriculum Vitae look somewhat reasonable to recruiters. Summer Camp Monitor, Call-Center Agent, Flight Attendant, Office Assistant, Business Manager, Corporate Executive, Event Planner, Restaurant Owner, Interior Designer, Entrepreneur, just to name a few. As soon as I became good at one thing, it was no longer challenging enough to satisfy my thirst for learning. And I’d always feel guilty about “giving up” while others were questioning themselves on why I’d jeopardize such a good position, for example. In the end, my instinct always triumphed. My discomfort in boredom and routine has always been stronger than my capacity to content myself with the knowledge I’ve acquired. If ever I found myself at a dead end or at the top of the ladder, if there was no way of evolving or doing something new in any given area, then I renounced and moved on to something more challenging.
Once I passed a certain age though, starting over or renewing myself became more and more difficult. I still couldn't make sense of why I was functioning in such a way, and to be honest, many days, I was just tired of not finding my “one true calling”, like most people eventually do. I started digging into the subject and quickly learned that I wasn't the only one facing this challenge and that many people qualified as multipotentialites. This concept was unknown to me for a good part of my life, probably because it wasn't well-identified and there wasn't much awareness surrounding the subject, but I discovered plenty of exciting things about myself and people like me. Everything I read just clicked and made total sense to me. It really changed my perspective on who I am.
Now that I've identified what I am, I'm learning to manage my multipotentiality. Now that I know there is nothing wrong with being a multipotentialite, I'm trying to give into it - in a healthy, sane manner, and with a different approach.
One of the biggest challenges I faced with my multipotentiality was staying focused on one thing at a time. Before, I had the tendency of doing several things at the same time, never really mastering or achieving any of them.
This has a lot to do with my refusal to choose and wanting to do all that I am curious about, at the same time. So I've changed my strategy: It's okay for me to have an interest in several things at once, but I can only move onto the next activity once I have finished the previous one, instead of trying to do the two simultaneously.
Another challenge I face is that of being self-taught, which isn't uncommon for multipotentialites. In other words, I head into a new experience blindly and often don't know what level of perfection is good enough. I don't know when to stop or when to judge a task as completed. I've learned to lower my expectations and accept that some things are considered good enough when I feel that they are.
On the other hand, because a multipotentialite is also easily distracted by their curiosity for something new, I’ve found it hard to follow through all the way to the end of certain projects, at certain times. Again, being aware of this now helps me focus and increase consistency.
A multipotentialite's mind is often thinking about so many things; I tend to tire quickly, causing myself to work in sprints instead of marathons. Managing the highs and the lows are somewhat tricky. When I wasn't well aware of this way of functioning, the lows were particularly hard to handle. Being aware of these different patterns helps me better accept them and consciously navigate through them.
Jumping into a new project can be very exciting for a multipotentialite. I, for one, usually tend to underestimate the work and effort that truly goes into these individual tasks. With a different perspective now though, I can more easily assess each new venture carefully before choosing to take on a new project or not.
Lastly, the biggest challenge I have faced was a discerning passion for distraction. Certain things I genuinely like doing out of curiosity or as a hobby and other things bring me immense joy and satisfaction. It took me a lot of exploration and trials before I finally broke through to the things that actually bring meaning to my life. And I am so thankful I didn't stop searching until I identified which occupations truly define me. For multipotentialites, it might not be one true calling, but I’ve found that there is a small number of activities that bring me a sense of deep fulfilment. All I can say is: "Never stop searching, never stop dreaming, it's never too late, you'll know when you find it!"
Sarah the Digital GypSea
Romania, September 2019