I wanted to be a clown when I grew up but that only lasted until I was ten years old. Since then I have decided what I wanted to do with my life about 100 times. Even when I chose a major in college, or moved to Los Angeles to pursue the Hollywood dream, I was still changing my mind at a rate of five and a half times a year.
I come from a large family of engineers. My grandfather, my father, and all of my uncles are engineers. While they have changed employers from time to time, they all got their degree and worked in their fields. This is the typical career trajectory:
1. Become an expert in one thing
2. Do that thing
I am more than ten years out of high school and I can't seem to make myself fit into that career trajectory. I find myself interested in new prospects all the time. Over the past five months I have decided to be a programmer, a writer, a radio producer and a web developer. I have written a program to solve sudoku puzzles, developed a full D&D Campaign, co-created a new podcast and re-designed this website.
This journey has been extremely discouraging, depressing, and disempowering. I find the vampires in my mind telling me things like "you are just lazy," "you are not good enough at anything to make a career out of it," "jack of all trades, master of nothing," and "just resign yourself to a paycheck career." I let the vampires tell me these things until I found a TED Talk that I had passed over about 50 times before. The TED Talk is by Emilie Wapnick, entitled "Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling." It is about her experience as a multipotentialite.
The short of it is that the career trajectory can be different:
1. Become good at a lot of things (or even at 'getting good at things')
2. Build a business or career on that.
What this means in practical terms is that my lack of expertise in any given field doesn't disqualify me from finding a career. In fact, my experience in so many fields gives me an advantage that not everyone has. I can take all my experience through my many side projects and jobs and leverage it to do something that interests me.
Don't get me wrong, if you are a multipotentialite, you will not have it easy (I'm telling myself this as much as you). The world still mostly runs in the "become an expert in one thing" mentality. In order to make it as a multipotentialite, you will have to keep the big picture in mind, you will have to learn how to market yourself, and you will need support. Until I came across this TED Talk, I thought something was wrong with me. After I saw it, I realized I was not defective, that there were others out there like me, and I had the beginnings of a language to talk about these things.
If you are not like me, if you have found your "one true calling," watch the video anyways. You can learn a lot about us multipotentialites and you can join the conversation.
If you are like me, welcome! Check out the TED Talk and peruse Wapnick's website and multipotentialite community: www.puttylike.com