What is a multipassionate?
Let’s start with getting clear on what a multipassionate actually is.
Other words to describe this phenomenon: Multipotentialite, Polymath, Renaissance Man (or Woman or whatever you identify as), Scanner, or the more derogatory Jack of All Trades, Master of None.
Emilie Wapnik is my hero in this field, so I’m going to use her most excellent definition which applies to all of these terms:
"A multipotentialite 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. We have many paths and we pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).”
I am a hardcore multipotentialite - or multipassionate - whatever you want to call it - I’ve always been into a LOT of things. As a kid, after I decided I wanted to be a Coca Cola Van Driver, a Ballerina, and an Archeologist (I loved dinosaurs and was heavily influenced by Jurassic Park) I finally settled on Artist. But even then, when I had my #1 passion, I was always dabbling in other interests.
Instead of having a collection of stamps or rocks, I had a collection of COLLECTIONS. Yep. This included plastic baggies - the kind you find buttons or drugs in - keyrings, stickers, erasers, used credit cards…
May be I was just into hoarding junk. But being INTO multiple things has followed me to this day. If you don’t know, I don’t just do the Creative Introvert. I’ve been designing websites since I graduated uni nearly a decade ago, I help clients with marketing strategy, I have another podcast (the Seeker and the Skeptic, in case you’re interested), I have an Etsy shop for my mandala art, I am learning to become a yoga teacher for crying out loud. Yeah. I have a few interests.
I always caveat this with the fact I have no children, hence the time thing.
But in any case, no matter what my number 1 focus is, I always have a few other things on the go - just to keep myself entertained.
It’s becoming more and more common. Us millennials are increasingly switching jobs - the median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 is 3.2 years. Laptop lifestyles are also becoming more common than they were 10 years ago - with more and more ways to make a living online than ever before.
If you consider yourself creative, it’s quite likely you also fit the bill of multipassionate too.
Are you a multipassionate?
* You’re always coming up with new ideas, whether it’s in the shower, taking a walk, drifting off to sleep
* You keep a notebook at hand at all times to capture the latest greatest idea
* You feel pretty low and mopey when you aren’t buzzing with new ideas - something must be off
* You feel like there’ll never be enough time to get round to all your ideas - which can be annoying
* You sometimes struggle to finish the ideas you start
* Or you struggle to get ideas off the ground because - whoosh! There comes another idea right around the corner
As you can see, there are some highs and some lows when it comes to being a multipassionate.
One of the lows you might have experienced is, Multipassionate Guilt. It’s the guilt that comes when we’re reminded by some book or podcast that tells us that ALL successful people must focus on ONE thing and ONE THING ONLY! That we must put 10,000 hours into our ONE THING in order to be acceptable humans.
Can’t we put one hour into 10,000 things and still live a good life??
Then there’s Multipassionate Shame. Juggling multiple careers or hobbies or ideas can lead you to feel like you still don’t have things figured out. It makes the classic networking question “So, what do you do?” a nightmare. If you’re a teacher but also a freelance copywriter who dabbles in social media consulting on nights and weekends, what do you do, really? How do you wrap up your complex personal brand into a 30-second elevator pitch?
Oh and Multipassionate insomnia. This comes from having 20 different projects on the go or floating around in your head can feel plain overwhelming. Try sleeping at night when you’re juggling that.
We can’t forget Multipassionate Despair. This is the frustration that comes with feeling the urge to burn everything you’ve built down to the ground, just to have a clean slate and start again… is quite stressful.
But the worst, in my experience, is… Multipassionate Boredom.
It’s feeling like whatever awesome - or previously awesome - stuff you had going on is now about as interesting as a pair of old socks.
It’s like gum that you’ve chewed all the flavour out of. We’re left waiting for that next idea to come to us, something - anything - to help us feel that spark of enthusiasm again.
Before we get too down on our multipassionate luck, I want to shine a light on the - many - advantages of being interested in so many things.
1. It makes for a pretty impressive resume. Having a mixture of subject matter on your resume gives you much more to talk about than your competitors applying for the same role. In an increasingly competitive job market, bringing diverse skills to the table is only a good thing.
2. You have a plan B… and C…
3. You’re more interesting. You know those people at a dinner party or networking event that have the most fascinating stories or seem to know a lot about a huge range of topics? Following your weird and wonderful interests only makes you a more interesting person to talk to. Plus, it means you can move beyond that bloody small talk much faster.