Have you ever encountered the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
As a kid, answering this was as simple as picking out a Holloween costume—”I want to be an astronaut, a pilot, or Beyoncé.”
But as we grow older, this question seems to make us anxious, not that we don’t have an interest, but because we have too many. It is also loaded with implications of what’s “normal,” that it has lead us to limit ourselves to only BE one thing, and denying the rest of our passions.
Most of society is perfectly fine with committing themselves into one path, and that’s okay, but some of us are just not wired that way. We dive into something that interests us, we give it our all, and then we get bored, so we move on to another interest that’s completely unrelated from the previous one. And the cycle goes on.
Don’t worry. We’re perfectly normal.
Emilie Wapnick, career coach and artist, has a term for people with this pattern—multipotentialites, people with many interests and creative pursuits (yes, we have a group!). In her TEDx Talk, she explains three compelling reasons why multipotentialites are such bad-ass people who are actually ahead of the game, and in a unique position to be great innovators.
“Ideas happen in the intersections. That’s where innovation comes from.”
Because our passions vary in different fields, we are able to build up and develop a lot of skills and experiences, and naturally inject them into other fields. This is how most great innovations come alive. They get something out of one field and incorporate them to another.
We’re rapid learners
“We’re used to being beginners, and because we’ve been beginners so many times in the past, this means that we’re less afraid of trying new things and stepping out of our comfort zones.”
Because we like to learn new things, we’re already so used to being beginners. Engaging into something new doesn’t scare us anymore, in fact, it’s what fuels us to improve ourselves, our capabilities, and knowledge. We love to educate ourselves with many things as possible in order to unlock our full potentials.
“Adaptability is the single most important skill to develop in order to thrive in the 21st century.”
In the concept of evolution, adaptability is what will keep us, humans, relevant. And because we constantly update and refine ourselves with new technologies and concepts, we are able to keep up with the world. So whatever position we are placed in, it is already instilled in us to adapt to whatever changes may come.
Just take a short trip back to history and you’ll find many great multipotentialites like the likes of Da Vinci, or Michelangelo who have shaped the way how we innovate today.
Having many interests and being able to blend those together is a wonderful gift. That’s what makes you original and innovative. So if ever you find yourself having a panic attack again about the question because of too many interests, just embrace it and let it guide you.
Watch the full video of Emilie Wapnick’s TEDx Talk “Why some of us don’t have one true calling”: