Multipotentialite; A Frank Talk with Emily Wapnick
What the hell is a multipotentialite?
Look, it’s a fair question.
For a very very long time, since coming out of high school nearly ten years ago I had been downright worried that I have never felt like I had a true purpose of what the bloody hell I was going to do with myself. You know, in the real world, when I grow up.
I knew that I was going to be fine of course, I will give myself some credit and say that I have a pretty good work ethic and it was never going to be a case of me starving to death on the street corner near a 7/11 oozing stolen slushie over the gutter. I knew deep down in my soul that I was never going to be an accountant, mainly due to the fact I had failed so many maths tests. I knew I was never going to be an engineer, for much the same reason, plus add in the lack of flavour physics presented. I knew I was never going to be a mechanic, a doctor, a fireman, a police person or nurse, a PA, high up in the government sector for built environments or become a youtube sensation. But just because I knew I was not going to be these things it didn’t really present another clear option. Since finishing high school I have worked in many many cafe’s, retail establishments, offices and promotional positions. I have studied make up, completed a hairdressing apprenticeship and am about to finish an advanced diploma in visual communication. I have run my own business for two years and have spent the last year working solely for myself. In my spare time I take hip-hop, fitness and bootcamp classes, I paint/draw/illustrate, I write songs, sing and play guitar and do the occasional acoustic gig, I screen print and sew for a small hobby-come-market business that my mother and I created and I also enjoy starting community projects like 30days30goals to motivate myself and my friends to do something for themselves. Try telling that to someone who you just met at a meet-and-greet whilst simultaneously trying to eat tiny cocktail sausages off a toothpick.
In this video Emilie Wapnick hits the goddamn nail on the head and punches through all my insecurities with her 8 minute frank talk.
Basically she takes the seemingly innocuous question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and explains why some of us, in this case, myself, are crippled with anxiety every time this question rears its ugly head, stares you in the face and makes you feel all uncomfortable, clammy-hands in your seat. After watching this video I wanted to laugh, cry, dance and fist pump the air because perhaps for the first time in my life I feel like someone else got me and my seemingly crazy intangible skills and passions and said “hey man that’s cool, the world needs people like you”.
It’s been a relief to say the least because two days ago I was going to mass cull my room and turf out all my hobbies in the bid to be my own perception of normal. To be quite honest about 10% of the time I’m pretty down that I didn’t know what I wanted to do straight out of high school. I get a little miffed sometimes that I couldn’t just commit to being something that was a degree that I could do then get a job, start earning cash dollars and enjoy weekends. I do have to admit though, that the rest of the time I feel really lucky that I get to do so many varied things and feel the freedom to start and stop various activities when and if I please.
Emilie broke down what a multipotentialite is. Essentially it’s someone who has more than one potential for what they can do. This is derived from an innately curious personality which drives one to constantly be stimulated, learn new things, become proficient, grow bored and repeat the same cycle. To some it may seem chaotic, random, unproductive and perhaps even stupid. I think however that Emilie is very correct in saying that learning new things is never going to be a waste of time.
“It is rarely a waste of time to pursue something you are drawn to, even if you end up quitting. You might apply that knowledge in a different field entirely in a way that you couldn’t have anticipated” – Emilie Wapnick
For those who would rather read my poetic prose than watch the video I will continue;
Emilie broke down the “super powers of a multipotentialite”
- Idea Synthesis
Combining two or more fields and creating something new at the intersection (innovation happens at these intersections). Due to breadth of knowledge and depth of knowledge on many subjects, multipotentialites can bring various skills and ideas to problems to create fresh, interesting and new outcomes.
- Rapid Learning
Multipotentialites are used to being beginners because they’ve done it so many times in the past. This means they are less afraid of trying new things and stepping out of their comfort zones. Many skills are also transferrable across disciplines, everything that was learned previously can be brought across to add to the pool of knowledge.
The ability to morph in to whatever one needs to be to fit any given situation.
Multipotantialites are adept at these three skills and are also incidentally extremely important to our growing, unpredictable society. It is scary to think that these three skills could be lost if a multipotentialite is pressured to “narrow their field”.
Guess I won’t be listening to that anymore or in fact ever answering the question “what do I want to be when I grow up?”.