I’ve got a problem.
Well, truth be told, I have many problems, but the one that’s plagued me my entire life is not being able to figure out what I’m supposed to be when I grow up.
It wasn’t such a big deal when I was in my 20s, but now that I’m well into middle age, it’s depressing.
All throughout my life I’ve excitedly gotten into things, learned everything I could about them, and then dropped them only to move onto something else. This caused quite a lot of frustration for my parents having to shell out for guitar lessons, new bicycles, art classes or whatever the whim happened to be that particular month.
While it’s been fun learning and experiencing a wealth of different hobbies and activities, narrowing it down to a career never worked out. Especially frustrating is reading about people like Stephen King, who knew from the get go that he was supposed to be a writer. People like him talk about finding your passion, a word I’ve come to despise because I thought there must be something wrong with me because I don’t seem to have a passion; I have many.
The problem, as explained in a TED talk given by Emilie Wapnick is our society conditions people to find that one thing they want to do with their lives, then specialize in it to a degree where they can make it a career. In her talk she mentions how people ask us even when we’re very young: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That question alone suggests that you have to be one thing when you grow up, and for most people, that’s the way it happens.
People like me, unfortunately, aren’t wired that way. Maybe it’s some form of ADHD, I don’t know. But what I do know is for a long time I thought there must be something wrong with me because I can’t pin down any one interest.
I enjoy writing, art, photography, cartooning and more. Emilie refers to people like me as Multipotentialites or people who have multiple potentials. She even wrote a book on the subject, which I’ll soon be reading.
While I still have feelings of inadequacy because I never found my one true calling I am coming to grips with the notion that being scattered is okay too. I may not be a writer whose career includes 20 novels, but if I can have a few, that’s fine too.
If you’ve suffered with depression and feelings of not living up to your potential because you have a variety of interests, Emilie’s TED talk is worth listening to.