Some multipotentialites like having many active projects in their lives at any given time. They’re kind of like an octopus, and each of their eight arms is involved in a different project. One is playing the violin, one is building websites, one is obsessed with Brazilian jiu-jitsu…
This is the multipotentialite that pops into most people’s heads when they think about someone who does many different things.
However, there’s another kind of multipotentialite — the kind that more closely resembles a phoenix.
A “phoenix multipod” becomes heavily involved in a particular field or project for months or even years! They enjoy “digging their claws in” for a longer period of time, until they really grasp the field and are ready to start afresh in an entirely new domain.
These multipotentialites can look like specialists to the outside world. They have one seemingly stable identity (at least for now) and may even be moving up the corporate ladder.
But then, after several months or years, they decide they got what they came for and leave their field. Then they reinvent themselves in an entirely new field, like a phoenix, emerging from the ashes.
Spontaneous Combustion or a Slow Transition?
Most people assume that the phoenix bursts into flames at the end of its life (as best depicted by Professor Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes). The phoenix is then reborn from its ashes (and is so so cute!).
However, according to other sources, the bird is simply said to die and decompose slowly before it is re-born.
Similarly, some phoenix-esque multipotentialites will reach their personal end point after many years in a field and quit abruptly. Others will transition more slowly. It seems like most “phoenix multipods” will do the latter and really take their time with their transitions. They’ll often also use connections they’ve made in career #1 to help get things rolling in career #2 before they make the jump.
Although the octopus and phoenix are neat symbols to describe these two types of multipotentilites, we all know that multipods rarely fit neatly into categories.
It’s absolutely possible to be a cross between an octopus and a phoenix (can someone please draw this creature?). Perhaps you have a few projects on your plate at one time, but you occasionally “burst into flames” and leave everything behind to start over in a new field.
Or maybe you get involved in one field at a time, but within each field you have a few different revenue streams/projects.
There’s no one way to be a multipotentialite. It doesn’t matter which method you use to explore your many interests, as long it works for you.
Are you a phoenix, an octopus, or a hybrid? If you’re a phoenix, do you burst dramatically into flames once you’ve reached your personal end point, or do you transition slowly?
Emilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe
scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.