Are Multipotentialites Driven by Discomfort?
Photo courtesy of Stefan Erschwendner.

Are Multipotentialites Driven by Discomfort?

Written by Emilie

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

I just got back from an amazing week at Cammac. I used to go for a week every summer with my family. I went from about the ages of 5 to 17. They’ve got a kids program and an adult program, so there’s something for everyone. As a kid, Cammac was a magical place where you could frolic about with your friends, indulge in nerdy bilingual music puns and play a whole lot of music.

My mom has continued to go every summer on her own, and this year I decided to fly out east and join her. It was my first time going back as an adult, and I had a wonderful time.

I had a lot of multipotentialite-related thoughts while I was up there, and I’ll be unpacking some of those over the next few weeks. This one’s about the need to be “uncomfortable” and how that informs our choices to pursue particular areas:

(Also, just to clarify, when I mentioned the Puttytribe, I didn’t mean that I was “done” with you guys. lol. I LOVE the work we’re doing in there! What I meant is that I have no great urge to launch additional membership sites, now that I’ve done it. It’s too easy. Time to get on stage. :)

Your Turn

Is being “uncomfortable” one of your multipotentialite drives?


  1. Sarah says:

    This is a really interesting perspective and after thinking about it, it’s definitely true for me. When I first got into website design, it was because I felt frustrated by it, I wanted to experiment with different bits and pieces. But once I learnt how to build a basic site, it got boring. Every so often I’ll find something on a website that I don’t know how to build and get obsessed with figuring out how to do it (recently it was horizontal design) Now I think the idea of building a business is something I really want to get into, but the thought of doing it as website design makes me cringe because websites are too easy to make now!

    Thanks for reminding me of this. I’m wondering now if the reason I get down a lot is because I’m not pushing myself, I’m doing things that are too easy and I need to challenge myself again. Hmm.

    • Emilie says:

      Interesting Sarah. I had the same experience with web design. One of my friends used to tease me by saying things like “you’re going to end up being a web designer, aren’t you?” and it used to make me cringe. Certain coding things will pop up and provide a challenge, which is fun on occasion. But I’m pretty much over doing freelance websites for someone else.

      And glad I got those wheels turning. I’m pretty excited about learning this about myself too. It gives me a bit more of an idea about when to leave and where to go next.

      • Sarah says:

        After thinking about this a bit more, my mind wandered over to Tony Robbins six human needs. Growth and variety are definitely high up on the list for me (and possibly all multipods?), but so is contribution… Which I guess is where the renaissance biz comes in!

  2. Joshua says:

    Whenever my slightly eccentric boss would suggest some idea that I knew was outside of my comfort zone, I would try to be quick to accept it.

    Give a speech to a room of fifty college kids? I’m an introvert and don’t have a strong voice, but sure, I’ll do that. Climb a mountain? I find it an incredible waste of time, and dangerous, but ok!

    Suddenly I had two new directions I felt I could master with some more practice, and newfound confidence from the experience.

    Maybe for multipotentialites it’s essential that we accept the varietal uncomfortable new things just to avoid the cringe factor we get from the routine / singular things.

    Next time I have a chance to try some new uncomfortable thing, I’ll just imagine that routine life that makes me cringe to give myself more motivation.

    In the end it ends up being worth it and you do learn something about yourself. The biggest challenge for me is keeping the fear of failure and embarrassment at bay.

    I hope I keep doing that, keep being the kid who pushes the adult me to the front to volunteer for stuff.

    • Emilie says:

      That is awesome, Joshua. Speaking to fifty college kids is something that I see myself doing in the near future. It totally terrifies me, but also excites me. I figure if I inspire even that one kid, it’ll be worth it.

      I actually think that throwing yourself in the line of fire like that on a regular basis helps you grow on a deeper level. Like beyond the specific skills you’re picking up, I think it makes you more resilient and boosts your confidence. At least that’s what I’m banking on. :)

      • Joshua says:

        Hey Emilie, thanks for the mention in your last post! Yeah, totally, it’s definitely about the growth / insight the experience gives you.

        As a multipotentialite who’s used to using different approaches, you can get creative with how you do the speech / uncomfortable new thing. You can get really genuine with it instead of being concerned with how a master does it.

        On the topic of uncomfortable / difficult / nervous life situations, I like Andy Warhol’s philosophy he mentions in his book where he talks about how worked up people get about things, and his response (in his head) is always “So what?”

        It’s not apathetic, it’s a way to stop caring TOO much. So if I have an audition and I’m competing with a bunch of other people, getting nervous, wondering if I’ll mess it up, I just tell myself “So what?” and it totally helps.

        Or that’s how I try to avoid the pitfalls that make people nervous about doing new things. I always imagine the most confident person (not showy or bullish, but assured person) and then aim for that.

  3. Shauntelle says:

    I think you nailed it for me Emilie! My friends are always asking me “what are you up to NOW?” and I used to feel bad about that because it felt like the question was asked with a bit of sarcasm… but now I realize that they’re really fascinated by how quickly I cycle through conquering new things and into discovering new activities/interests that push me outside my comfort zone. To me, that’s what makes life exciting and what makes me interesting as a person. I also think it’s what has built my confidence over the years… I’m almost 40 and I feel pretty good in my skin, mostly because I look back and see a long list of new skills and new challenges that I’ve faced… I may not always succeed, but I know that mistakes are okay and it all grows you to become better, if you look at it as an opportunity for growth.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Shauntelle,

      You touched on something so key. There are always two ways of looking at things. Some people see their “inability to follow through” as a negative and it detracts from their inner confidence, but you use all of those challenges you’ve taken on to build up your confidence. That is awesome. :)

  4. Mirah says:

    Totally! Great video post. I’ve always said that I love being uncomfortable because when I’ve learned the ins and outs of something, I’m too comfortable and there’s really no need to keep going further. Most of the time it’s because I’ve lost interest due to the fact that there’s no more knowledge or experience I can squeeze out of a particular situation.

    I like to be challenged, and the ultimate challenge for me is to place myself in an environment that is completely different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s at those times when I feel the most alive and the most engaged. It’s at those times when I usually re-realize that life is awesome.

  5. Margaux says:

    I’ve heard many multipotentialites say this, that they get bored when things are too easy. Not me, because I can always find ways to make it harder and challenge myself further.

    I get bored with sameness. I need variety. I also need variety and new things because I need balance. Too much of anything is bad. Plus my life view is that the world is big and there are so many roads, so many points of view; why settle into just one?

    I don’t worry about stretching myself out of my comfort zone because that just happens as a by-product of being interested in too many things. The only challenge that interests me is “what is the right answer?” when applied to a new and interesting question.

    However, I appreciate that you look at new interests as opportunities to stretch yourself. That’s a very healthy way to approach life, IMO.

    • Emilie says:

      Interesting Margaux. I think we all have different drives, and they’re all valid. If I’ve become comfortable with a medium, I have a hard time continuing, even if I go deeper and make it harder. I think I just need the medium switch.

      I can relate to the variety stuff as well. I always like having a mix of different activities on the go at any one time.

  6. Erin says:

    Hehe, I think *not* being uncomfortable is one of my drives, which can be a problem! I’m still really afraid of fear. Or maybe I’m afraid of failing. I’m working on it.

    I think for me, I love building on things, exploring the whole field. I have a few crafts I’ve done since childhood, but I always like branching out to dabble in new techniques and approaches. I started blogging and ended up interested in the whole online world, from the design piece to the back-end programming to the actual blogging process. With reading, it’s different genres, different ways of cataloging and sharing books, different formats (would love to learn about ebook design and distribution sometime soon!). And there’s a mostly unrealized vein of interests built around self-sufficiency — having a gigantic garden (no yard…yet), canning and preserving my own food, building functional furniture, that sort of thing. I think I like moving around within a particular broad field to explore different aspects and widen my perspective/skill set. If that makes sense.

    Great accent, by the way. Cockney accent workshop, perhaps?? :-P (Glad to hear you’re not done with us PTers…!)

    • Emilie says:

      Yeah, not being uncomfortable is when my resistance comes up. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my drives, but something that maybe gets in the way of my drives.

      I like how you described your drive. It made me think of a tree with branches extending from the trunk, and then more and more branches extending outward from there.

      Haha I’m terrible at accents. I literally had to sit down with a British woman and have her say my lines and then I’d repeat them back to her and practice over and over.

      • Erin says:

        I love that tree metaphor! Kind of makes me want to make a big poster of a tree, with all my interests on it. Ooh… :)

        I’ve always wanted to learn an accent by studying the sounds and patterns in it. I minored in Linguistics in college and have thought that would be a cool application of what I don’t otherwise use. Generally I’m terrible at accents, though. Someday!

  7. Bruno says:

    I don’t think we’re masochistic, I think we’re adrenaline junkies (In a very “fight club” fashion way -meaning we are capable of blowing up our own apartment just to go out on adventure-).

    So yeah, once the dots are all connected is time to get down of that peak and look for a new mountain to climb.

    Welcome back Emilie!

  8. Mary says:

    I totally agree with you! I feel like I am never satisfied with any job that I have and part of it is that they just get too easy! I think that’s past of the reason I am currently taking the risk of trying to move into a new department at my company to do more print design work as opposed to web production work. It really got me out of my comfort zone because I had to meet with my boss to tell him I’m unsatisfied! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will work out. If not, I’m striking out on my own!

  9. Candace says:

    I honestly never thought about it like this, but I think you’re right LOL I tend to get bored with things when I get too comfortable, which is probably why I’m always looking to change things up or improve things. For me, this can also lead to serious ‘busy work” syndrome if I’m not careful :)

  10. Emily Rose says:

    I am in this place as well, I am experimenting with all sorts of life changes that I’ve never done before. A whole change in my diet, and I’ve lost 20 lbs! And I’m not done, still striving to reach my goal of losing 40, and getting into better shape, doing more exercise. Also pushing myself to say hi to strangers, meet new people, go to new places and do new things. And as it turned out, the other day I met 2 people at the movie theatre and we have so much in common and now I have 2 friends who are planning to do so much with me already over the next 2 months! Also decided after being broke-up with I need some “single” time, and never before have I pushed away a guy I liked who also likes me, but I did with the new guy who came into my life after being broken up. I just want some time for myself, and that is so uncomfortable! All these challenges are uncomfortable at times, but I also learn so much about myself through the process!

    Great post Emilie!

  11. Bethany says:

    Along with the need to get out of too much comfort, I think we all have similar risk patterns. We’re not afraid of risk and risk isn’t really a factor in our decisions.

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