After decades of trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up,” I finally found a label that I can embrace wholeheartedly: “multipotentialite.”
I heard this concept in a Ted Talk entitled “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling,” by Emilie Wapnick. Multipotentialite is a mouthful for sure, but after watching that talk, I collapsed with relief, knowing: there are others like me. I am okay.
The problem for multipotentialites, Ms. Wapnick suggests, is that we have too many interests in life, and we want to pursue all of them. We can’t pick just a single path and stay on it.
I felt seen.
In college, I chose “undecided” for the first two years, not because I had no interests but because I couldn’t choose between them. I finally decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps and chose Business Management. Soon after graduation, I got a job working for an executive benefits firm which, once I wrapped my head around it, primarily helped rich people get richer.
Despite my varied interests, I ended up somewhere that held no interest at all for me.
Fast forward through my time as a computer software teacher, a programmer, and a stay-at-home mom, I then began studying yoga with a consuming curiosity, becoming a teacher myself within a year.
The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” is sometimes applied to people who don’t settle into one purpose. At least for me, it’s not accurate. I don’t dabble. When I get passionate about something, I learn it until I can teach it, write about it, and advocate for it. I learn it until, it seems, I learn my way right out of it.
Transformation is very different from change. All of us change. No one avoids this process. We mature, we grow older, we learn a few lessons, we adapt our preferences.
This is what happened with my yoga path. My initial curiosity found me diving into every nook and cranny. I traveled and studied with high-profile teachers, taking training after training. I went as deep as one could go — eventually becoming a yoga studio owner where I pictured myself content and happy right into old age. It was the thing I was meant to do — at least, that’s what I hoped.
But life (fate? destiny?) had other plans. Within a couple of years, it was time to leave. My decision didn’t make sense to many. Was I sick? Did I get hurt? How do you explain that something vital had been lost, and my passion, like a fire, had burned out? That I had gained what I needed to gain and grown as much as I could grow? That the title or role that had initially intrigued me now confined me?
Often when I find a new passion, I’ll express to my husband, “This is it! This is who I’ll be for the rest of my life!”
Knowing me well, he’ll gently chide, “For now.”
I don’t know why I continue to be surprised when, at some point, after I’ve thrown money, time, and energy into something, I feel myself deflate. But before I have time to mourn the loss, my nose points me toward some new curiosity, and I prepare for the inevitable transformation.
Since leaving the yoga studio, I’ve been an alternative health provider, an energy healer, a self-publisher, and recently, I’ve been practicing alchemy — that is, making tinctures and elixirs from raw herbs in my kitchen. So it was perhaps inevitable that I would eventually study the science of transformation itself.
Transformation is very different from change. All of us change. No one avoids this process. We mature, we grow older, we learn a few lessons, we adapt our preferences. One day, we don’t like spicy food anymore. Another day, we decide we won’t ever wear skinny jeans again.
Society makes room for people to change. But it doesn’t understand or make much room for people like me — people who make a lifestyle out of transformation.
Change is the paint slowly chipping away on a door, a dull ache that morphs into a limp, an icicle melting in the springtime. Change is not a conscious effort; it happens whether one is standing still or never stopping at all.
Transformation, on the other hand, seeks to make a substance into an entirely new thing — a caterpillar to a butterfly, an herb to an elixir, lead into gold.
While change happens to us, transformation happens within us. And in me, it’s happening all the time.
I tip my hat to those who have always known who they are and find joy in that one thing. I envy them, to some degree. But for me, staying put stifles my curiosity. I find joy in moving from “skin” to “skin” like a snake. I get excited when I find intersections and commonalities between the things I study. I know that no matter what I do, I will bring my whole self to it — even if it is only “for now.”
Society makes room for people to change. But it doesn’t understand or make much room for people like me — people who make a lifestyle out of transformation. Still, I won’t feel guilty or obligated to stick with something because of money or time I couldn’t get refunded anyway. And I’ve grown used to the gentle teasing from friends and family, who might remind me how passionate I was about this or that thing that I no longer invest in.
If you find me today, you’ll see me with my laptop in hand and glasses on my face, busily typing away. You see, I think of myself as a writer. At least, that’s what I’m doing — for now. But really, the only label that will ever stick with me is the one I can barely say: multipotentialite.