I am a Multipotentialite
Updated: 12 hours ago
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 multipotentialite, a term used to describe people who possess a diverse range of interests and skills. I like the term Renaissance Soul, myself.
As a fellow multipotentialite, 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 a multipotentialite 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 find success on my own terms. First and foremost, I don't have to have one single place.
Tips for Multipotentialites
Here are my top six tips for fellow multipotentialites.
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.
(Multipotentialites synonyms are: multipassionates, 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.
Also, sometimes we take on too much due to our multiple passions, fascinations and our curiosity. This 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 a few boundaries, otherwise you may find yourself crashing and burning.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
I've been fortunate to have many life experiences that have nurtured my multipotentialite spirit, but I don't believe this is what made me one. I think that the potential to have multiple career interests and passions exists in everyone, to varying degrees.
Growing up, 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 it was also a lot of fun. I loved falling asleep in the prayer room on Sunday evenings; it was a beautiful place on Kootenay Lake, and 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 keep my options open for university.
In my first year of university, I obtained permission to take both Fine Arts and Engineering courses, which kept me interested and gave me lots of 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, always moving on if I got bored (or wanted a raise). Although I'm an introvert, I can amp up to be an extrovert, so I've developed heaps of fabulous relationships and have been fortunate to have extraordinary mentors.
“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 the term "multipotentialite" to describe myself. I'm also a polymath, which means I've now acquired a broad range of knowledge and skills.
Other things I've learned about being a multipotentialite include the importance of balancing and recalibrating, as well as the fact that we can burn out from pursuing too many passions as well as the day-to-day stressors.
I'm very comfortable with who I am now. I have made it work for me. And, these days, especially when I learn about and do what really fills my bucket, I'm in the A+ bucket.
However, it hasn't always 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, and many 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 multipotentialites. For example, those with ADHD often have a broad range of interests and talents.
Thirdly, balancing and recalibrating our energy levels is crucial to avoid burning out. I've come to understand that as a multipotentialite, 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 multipotentiality.
Ultimately, we are all more than one thing beneath the surface. I believe that there's multipotentiality in all of us and embracing it can make our paths richer and more fulfilling. We just need to slow down to reflect and act on it.
As a coach, I strive to empower my clients to embrace their multipotentiality and to find balance in their pursuits.
Various online sources for definitions, including Wikipedia.
David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, New York, Riverhead Books, 2019.
David Epstein, Why specializing early doesn't always mean career success, TED Talk
S/asher Careers, Why I don't just have one career
Carla Watkins, Multipod Issues: What is a Multipod Anyway?
Jen, How to Deal With Being A Multipotentialite
Laura Maya, Are you a multipotentialite, scanner or Renaissance Soul?
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.