Multipotentiality and the Myth of Having a Single Purpose in Life
For as long as I could remember, I have enjoyed many different interests and creative hobbies.
I made friendship bracelets and crochet dolls as a kid. I tried to sell art outside my apartment building in Brooklyn when I was 11. I fell in love with photography in high school and almost pursued it professionally. I watercolor, play guitar and sing, design, make paper flowers, collage, write (a lot), dance, make jewelry… you get the idea. Additionally, my interests span everything from literature to nature, astronomy to psychology, spirituality, wellness, business and marketing, personal development, and anything in the least bit unusual or inspiring.
One voice says “it’s too much, let something go.”
Then another says “but… no, it works for me.”
The question of what my “purpose” is used to fill me with confusion and downright despair because to choose any single pursuit is to limit not only my personal potential, but to simultaneously reduce the ways in which I can contribute to co-creating a better world. It would be a palpable loss.
Now I have a new perspective that provides immense relief and expansion. Upon embracing what I really am and having the terminology to identify as a multipotentialite I am free from the ache of not fitting into any single box.
We live in an incredible world full of infinite ways to experience being, creation, and personal evolution. With this one life, I want to live as much as I can, and in doing so I will have more to give to others.
Multipotentiality is a term that helps put it all in perspective. It is an “educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields.”
Does this ring a bell for you?
It’s a personality trait common among creative people with diverse interests, one that’s not quite understood by those who believe that you must choose one area of expertise in order to truly excel, especially professionally. And just as extroverted personality types command a more vocal or visible (though not necessarily more powerful) presence than introverts, the specialists of this world are considered more seriously than multipotentialites.
But it’s not really a matter of which is “better,” but rather an acknowledgement that our differences are what help us all bring something unique to the table, each adding to the beautifully complex and interconnected web of humanity in which we all have a role to play by simply allowing our fully expressed selves to shine.
Some examples of multipotentialites throughout history are…
- Leonardo DaVinci
- Thomas Jefferson
- Charlie Chaplin
- Carl Jung
- Audrey Hepburn
- Oprah Winfrey
- Richard Branson
And that’s just to name a few. These figures and many others have shown that you don’t have to spend a lifetime toiling away at any one thing in order to be good at it, or fulfilled by it. In fact, having multiple curiosities expands the potential connections we can make among a range of disciplines, thereby increasing innovation and inspiration.
It’s a myth that we all have a singular purpose.
Specialization is great if you like diving deep into one subject and being an expert in that, or if you know the exact way that you are meant to be of service in the world. But if you don’t, if you’re a multipotentialite who wants to experience many things and contribute to the world in a variety of ways that’s ok too.
We are all wired differently, and it is by understanding and elevating our unique nature that we can truly thrive in all the ways that matter.
But lest you rest on your multipotentialite laurels and pat yourself on the back for being such a Renaissance woman/man, there are some drawbacks to consider too.
Here are some of the things multipotentialites can struggle with…
- Too many ideas/not enough focus
- Slow progress on goals
- Constant seeking for something new
- Career building
- Financial security
As with all things, there is a light and shadow side to your unique way of being. If you can lean more in the direction of embracing all the gifts of multipotentiality without succumbing to the pitfalls, then you will be empowered to strive ever upward toward your highest self and have the means to share your truth with the world.
And at the end of a life, isn’t that what you’d hope to have done?