When I was five, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. For lack of better knowledge, I said I wanted to be a belly dancer (it just seemed like fun). But later on, each phase came with a different answer. I wanted to be an actress. A director. Artist. Writer. Marketer. Literary Agent. Photographer.
When the time came to make a decision about my future, I chose the easiest option of them all. I went into business administration. That is not to say that whenever I got past a phase, I completely discarded that dream. I still want to be all of these things, all at the same time. I may have given up about the belly dancer thing, but I still am hopeful that one day, I will be able to achieve all those dreams. Not just one. All.
That makes me a multipotentialite, and you may be one, too. A couple of days ago, I came across a TED talk that really spoke to me. I had never known that this disarray of interests had a word. That there were people just like me.
Multi-potential-ite, as defined by Emilie Wapnick who gave the TED talk, “is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. Multipotentialites have no one true calling the way specialists do. Being a multipotentialite is our destiny.”
Emilie herself studied music, art, film production, and law. I saw many similarities in the way Emilie talked about her search to find her passion with my own life. She would recall how interested she would get in one field of study, dedicate her whole life to it, only to get interested in something else.
According to Emilie, being a multipotentialite comes with superpowers. Of the most important, and personally relevant to me, is Idea Synthesis, or the ability of taking knowledge in one area and applying it to solve a problem in an entirely unrelated field. Another is wearing many hats, or being able to do many things well. This, in return, defers us from asking for outside help. Multipotentialites can often feel that in the workplace. As a writer, I often see myself tapping into other fields to overcome day to day ordeals.
Even though being a multipotentialite looks like it’s an enviable thing to be, we often feel as though something is wrong with us. Emilie explains that this is due to society romanticizing the idea of having “a destiny” or a one true calling for each person. A person with varying interests may feel alone in a world that values specialization.
You may be labeled as immature or flakey, but thinking of yourself as a multipotentialite is definitely more empowering. Once I started embracing all my other passions, not just those related to business studies, I went back to video editing, cinematography, and writing. Just because some people are only capable of doing one job, doesn’t mean you have to.
By: Reem Eid