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I am a Multi-passionate

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Are you someone who does not always fit into a specific career or calling? Do you find yourself easily bored, needing variety? Are you passionate about many different things? Do you tend to pursue multiple paths? If so, you might just be a multi-passionate or (as you embark on new things) a multipotentialite, terms used to describe people who possess a diverse range of interests and skills. I like the term Renaissance Soul, myself.


As a fellow multi-passionate, I understand the challenges of feeling misunderstood and judged by others. It can be difficult to explain to people that our lives may look very different from theirs, and that's okay. In fact, it's what makes us unique and amazing.

 

“The question I set out to explore was how to capture and cultivate the power of breadth, diverse experience, and interdisciplinary exploration, within systems that increasingly demand hyper-specialization, and would have you decide what you should be before first figuring out who you are.”

~ David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World ~

 

Unfortunately, the world doesn't always prepare us for such a diverse path. That doesn't mean we can't thrive. As someone who struggled to find my place for many years, I've learned a few things along the way helping me embrace my multipotentiality, and actualize through to becoming a successful multi-passionate on my own terms. First and foremost, just like with other areas in life, accepting I don't have to have one single professional area.


Tips for Multi-passionates

Here are my top seven tips for Renaissance souls.


Keep in mind, there is no elite thinking here, no good, bad, better, right or wrong. The world needs us all; both vertical-thinking specialists AND lateral-thinking generalists and everything in between.


(Multi-passionate synonyms are: multipotentialites, multipods, generalists, scanners, slashers or―my favourite―Renaissance souls).


1. Look back to move forward Reflect on your life from childhood to now and consider how it has conspired to help you be who you are today and who you might become. Dividing your life into different stages or chunks can help you see the inputs and influences that opened up possibilities for you.


2. Keep your options open Don't be afraid of being a generalist. You will gain terms of reference that can make you invaluable. So, don't feel like you have to narrow your education or career focus. Instead, think about why you might want to keep options open. Is it because you're curious, fascinated, stimulated and relishing the variety? Is it because you fear missing out? Is fear the primary driver?


Important caveats to this tip: unless it’s a total bust or stepping on important values, keeping your commitments is being a good human AND finishing what your start can open up more options for you. You can still follow your passions and interests.


3. Letting go opens up new opportunities Sometimes, we can get attached to beliefs, ideas or tracks that aren't true or no longer serve us. If you're feeling stuck or like you're settling for less, ask yourself whose voice is keeping you there. Is it your own or someone else's? By letting go, you open up space for new opportunities and experiences.


4. Watch for these tendencies

Related to Letting go (above)... We are more intensely curious with terrific thirst for learning. So, we often keep adding to our many interests and related learning and activities. This can lead to challenges specific to us. For instance, what I call:

- passion overload burnout

- passion distraction syndrome

- one-more-thing syndrome


We can take on too much on top of what is expected - in what can already be full plates and so much going on. This is when our multi-passionate superpower switches into something that can get "gnarly". It also fractures our attention and dilutes our capacity to learn or accomplish as much or to do it well.


Letting go or pacing can help. Give yourself some boundaries, otherwise you may find yourself crashing and burning. Learn to approach things differently - what could work for you to mitigate the challenges. I find regular mindfulness breaks helps me step back and reset.


5. Life unfolds as it's meant to Trust the process of life and have faith in yourself. Even when things aren't going as planned, there's a reason for it. Take a step back and ask yourself what you can learn from the situation. With perspective of curiosity, all experiences we go through contribute to our knowledge, power and progress in a great synthesis and integrations.


6. Slow down to go better As a multipotentialite, it's easy to get caught up in desire for new experiences and challenges. This can lead to stress and overwhelm. Pause and slow down. Focus on one thing at a time―it’s all we can do anyway and it’s more effective. Reflection and journaling in your pauses will help you prioritize and adjust as needed.


7. Trust that every step is leading you home Believe that every step you take leads you to where you need to be. Trust your natural self and your abilities, be open, and have faith that the universe is guiding you towards your purpose. Never underestimate every experience. They will come in handy. Remember that you and all your layers are perfect in this moment, and by embracing your authenticity, you'll find ease and flow in your life.


These tips have helped me embrace my Renaissance Soul and find success on my own terms. I hope they can help you too. Remember, being a multipotentialite is a gift, not a curse. Embrace it and see where it takes you.


My Story


I've been fortunate to have many life experiences that have nurtured my Renaissance spirit, but I don't believe this is what made me a multi-passionate. I think that the potential to have multiple career interests and passions exists in everyone.


Who among us had an easy and straightforward childhood? No two backgrounds are the same, even in siblings! There were many times through my early life where it felt very different from "mainstream" and I remember thinking we are not a normal family and this is not a normal childhood. It was hard and troubling and also filled with a lot of wonderful.


I had a lot of opportunities to explore my interests. Growing up in Scotland, I loved early childhood and school, and my parents took us on trips and exposed us to new ideas. We even spent a year in Yasodhara Ashram, in the Canadian Rockies. This was a formative experience. My brother and I went to school locally while my parents studied, did yoga, and meditated. For me, it was an uncomfortable time, but there was a sort of freedom, creativity, fun and, in hindsight, a lot of fascinating and mind-expanding learning. I loved falling asleep in the prayer room on Sunday evenings to the sound of mantras and bongo drums. We lived in a rustic red cabin on the property, scenically set on a mountainside and running all the way down to the beautiful Kootenay Lake. There was never a dull moment.


We ended up immigrating to Canada and settling in Calgary. School was okay, but I was a couple of years ahead for my age and often bored. The more unique and challenging classes were the best, and I loved anything that seemed out of the ordinary, like silversmithing and drafting. I did enough to get by with high Bs and to keep my options open for university.


In my first year of university, I obtained permission to take both Fine Arts and Engineering courses, as even then I resisted narrowing my options. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science with enough extra credits for half of a bachelor in fine arts and humanities.


I've had a lot of jobs since then, ahead of the curve as generations just after me made the 3-year job more of a "normal" thing. I moved on if I got bored (or wanted a raise). I was pretty introverted, I could muster my courage and amp up to be an extrovert and this helped me drive my destiny. Gradually, I stretched this comfort zone more and more, and now I consider myself an ambivert. I'm fortunate to have developed heaps of fabulous relationships and to have had extraordinary mentors. At the time, there was a lot of imposter syndrome going on, and my mentors must have seen through to something that took me a lot longer to feel.

 

“There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...”

~ John Lennon ~

 

I've come to see myself differently and with more acceptance over time, and I've embraced both terms "multi-passionate and multi-potentialite" to describe myself. I've even been called a polymath (and then had to look up the word), which means I've now recognize I really do have a fabulously broad (and often pretty deep) range of knowledge and skills.


Other things I've learned about being a multi-passionate include the importance of balancing and recalibrating, as well as the fact that we can burn out from pursuing too many passions on top of "normal" day-to-day and life stressors.


I'm very comfortable with who I am now. I have made it work for me. And, these days, especially when I learn and do what really fills my bucket, I feel in ease and flow.


It hasn't been easy or clear. Society tends to emphasize finding one's "thing," and I despaired of ever doing so. I am grateful for the support I've had along the way, including my amazing family, therapy, coaching, great friends and advocates. I'm not sure they all "got me" but they've always been there for me.


Some of my learnings

As both a person and a coach, I've come to learn a few things about being a multipotentialite. I'd be curious to hear what you are learning, too.

  • Firstly, we are not alone. We're a diverse group of people with a wide range of talents and interests, and there's strength in that diversity.

  • Secondly, many neurodivergent people may also identify as multi-passionates and potentialites. For example, those with ADHD often have a broad range of interests and developed talents.

  • Thirdly, balancing and recalibrating our energy levels is crucial to avoid burning out. I've come to understand that it's easy to burn out by pursuing too many passions simultaneously.

  • Fourthly, much is up to us AND we don’t have to do this alone. Having a coach to guide you through this process can be incredibly beneficial. I'm lucky to have my own coach who helps me navigate my own diverse passions.


Ultimately, we are all more than one thing beneath the surface. I believe that there's multipotentiality in all of us and embracing our passions can make our paths richer and more fulfilling. We just need to slow down to reflect sometimes and to act on it.


As a coach, I strive to empower my clients to embrace their diverse interests and skills and to find balance in their pursuits.



Resources:

Various online sources for definitions, including Wikipedia.

David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, New York, Riverhead Books, 2019.

Emilie Wapnick on Puttylike and in their 2015 TED talk, Why Some of Us Don’t have One True Calling.

Martha Markus, who will always be a kindred spirit and inspiration to me.


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