Chances are, you have been asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” more than you can count. When you were five, you probably said things like princess, astronaut, superhero, etc. The trick though, is that the world sort of screws you over when you get older. You see, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” turns into “what are you going to major in when you’re in college?” which then becomes “what one single career are you going to do for the rest of your life here on earth?” and that’s terrifying. Something that starts off as a cute question to ask little kids turns into something that causes extreme stress.
When I was little, I wanted to be an artist and a veterinarian. That is, until I realized that I would have to put animals to sleep at some point during my career. I knew I would never be able to do that so I decided I would be a teacher. Because I was (and still am) way too realistic for my own good, I knew that being a teacher was basically my best bet when it came to a career. However, I did have moments where I thought about how much I would enjoy being a doctor or how good I would be at being a lawyer. Now, I’m stuck half way between teaching and child life. I also want to do something with music and photography. I want to do everything, but I know that I can’t. But why?
This idea of choosing only one thing to do with the rest of your life isn’t really benefiting anyone. It leads children to romanticize the idea of one true calling. They hear that they have to choose one thing and they have to narrow their focus to one particular thing. They learn that, once they have chosen the thing they will devote their life to, they have to stick with it because God forbid you want to do more than one thing with your life.
Did you know that there’s actually a word defining someone who has multiple interests and creative pursuits? These people are called multipotentialites. You see, as a multipotentialite, my problem isn’t that I have no interests, it’s that I have too many. I get really excited about something and then, eventually, I feel ready to move on to something else. Maybe this is because I feel as though I have no more room to grow in this particular area, maybe I get bored, or maybe I just find something else that could use my talents more. The point is, I have far too many interests to commit to only doing one thing for my entire life.
Who decided it was wrong or abnormal to enjoy doing many things? We never learn that people who have multiple interests also have wonderful qualities. We only learn that they are unable to stick with things and that they are afraid of commitment. We never hear about the innovation, adaptability, and rapid learning skills that multipotentialites pose.
You see, somehow, we all go it in our heads that there is only one way to be successful in life: to find the single thing you wish to do with your life and delve right in with no intention of looking back. The truth of the matter, though, is that you should design your life on how you’re wired. If that means doing one thing and loving every single second of it, by all means, be a specialist. If you prefer to do multiple different things and thrive in doing so, by a multipotentialite. There is no wrong way to succeed in this world. There is no wrong way to be. So be an astronaut, a teacher, and a princess all at once. Be a neurosurgeon and an artist. Be a musician. Be anything and everything you want. As long as it makes you happy, who cares how many different paths you choose to take?