Christmas, Friendships and Living in the “In-Betweens”
Photo courtesy of Susanne Nilsson.

Christmas, Friendships and Living in the “In-Betweens”

Written by Emilie

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

Most multipotentialites are intimately familiar with the “in-betweens.” We love exploring the connections between disparate ideas and we often work in industries that intersect with other areas.

Socially and identity-wise we often inhabit the “in betweens,” as well. We may find ourselves floating between social groups. I, for one, have always had a motley array of friends.

In high school I had friends who were punks, friends who were nerds, friends who were artists, and so on. I could hang with any of these groups, but I never really felt like I fit in with any one of them 100%. I would become friends with the one or two people in the group I jived with (looking back, they were often multipotentialites themselves) and we would stay friends over the years because we liked each other, not because we are both interested in X.

I have lived in the “in-between” as a dual citizen. I have a slightly different perspective (and way of using a butter knife) when living in the U.S. And when I’m in Canada, I often find myself trying to point out the nuances and complexities of American identity in conversation.

I’m Jewish, but only (barely) culturally Jewish. My family has always celebrated Christmas “because it is a fun holiday.” Even now, I’m pretty much obsessed with Christmas (WHICH IS IN A FEW DAYS!!!!)

I’m queer. That’s the term that I like and the one that works for me. I like it because it’s open, malleable and doesn’t say much other than “not straight.” (Note: we should all identify in the way that feels right to us. There are plenty of reasons that one might choose to use a more specific identity like an L, G, B, T, etc. It is all good. Whatever you identify as is what you are.)

I know that other people experience this feeling of “not quite fitting in” in much bigger ways than I do. Race, gender and class are all realms in which I inhabit a single space. And I know that many non-multipotentialites experience this, as well.

Feeling like you never quite fit in can be lonely. But it can also be fun and fascinating to move between and learn about different cultures.

And when you find other people who live in the in-betweens–perhaps even a community of multipotentialites–maybe that’s when you start to realize that there is a group out there who gets you. Only what bonds this group together isn’t your mutual love of hiking or chemistry or a cappella. It’s that you all live in the “in-betweens.” You all know how that feels and you can connect on a level that goes deeper than one particular topic. You can get to know each other as other humans who defy categorization.

Cause actually, we all do.

Happy holidays, my multipotentialite/scanner/Renaissance people/polymath/multi-passionate/label-free/whatever-the-heck-you-wish-to-identify-as friends. :)

Wishing you much love and laughter and good food this holiday season.

Love,
Emilie

Your Turn

Do you often float between different groups and cultures?

em_bioEmilie 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.

27 Comments

  1. Rita says:

    Emilie I hope your holidays are enjoyable. And the new year brings you everything you need! Thank you for this blog, it’s nice to know there are people out there who feel the way I do. Blessings to you!

    • This describes a lot of how I’ve been feeling all my life. I could never see myself as part of only one group, and although I had many groups of friends, it always felt lonely to see and feel like an outsider all the time.

  2. Morna says:

    Yes. This is so very relatable. I’ve been saying this for a while, how I feel in-between. My friends have some common traits, but overall it’s a fairly diverse group of people. And though I love them all, I’ve never felt like I really belonged with any one of them. For me, belonging came a couple of months ago, when I discovered the online reddit for ENTP. Who, by the way, are all multipotentialites…

    Happy holidays to you too, Em, thanks for being awesome and showing us we’re not weird (or at least not in a negative way) :)

  3. Tracy says:

    I’m so curious – does being in Canada mean your multi potentialate retreats move here too? That is an exciting thought!

  4. Lisa Chen says:

    Thanks for your email. I do feel in between, not quite fitting in and always employed in between different industries. Thank you for your email and post in the holidays, where all the marketing makes me feel so not fitted into segments of personas. I have always felt in between, floating in between different people, like a connector.

    Please keep sending emails!

  5. Kendra says:

    Hello Emilie-

    I just told my team today that I wanted to connect with you directly sometime soon… and then I got your email about living in the “inbetween”…. Yeah. I’ve been there my whole life.

    But recently I decided to do something about it for myself and many others. I am building an organization called Liminal Collective. It’s nowhere near ready to share or show-n-tell about yet, as I’m sure you’re familiar with the very messy stages of startup, but it’s massive and rapidly collecting speed! I plan to create an APP and many other integrations, once the full team is really onboard.

    I would love to talk to you sometime about it all!

    Your fellow multipotentialite, big dreamer and DOER,

    Kendra

  6. Zarayna says:

    Hi Emilie,
    A very happy Christmas to you and yours.
    The one thing that took me so long to accept was that others are not like me!
    And, instead of being appreciative that I could build bridges between different tribes (or so I thought) to show the delight in differing roads leading to a common goal, I was viewed suspiciously. If I didn’t show 100% allegiance to a particular religion, or a tribe within the sciences (as opposed to philosophy) or a nation versus another, I was, apparently some sort of traitor.
    So, while I thought I was addressing and explaining away dissent between groups, I was in fact generating dissent – against me!
    Hey, ho.

  7. Sara says:

    I hear you on the “never fitting in”! Although it gets easier as you learn to embrace your “weirdness” and let it shine so the other “weirdos” know they’re not alone :D And the struggle of trying to reconcile two (or more) aspects of our lives that are seemingly opposed is so real. But it continues!

  8. Natalia says:

    Dear Emilie, thank-thank you very much from Russia for your kind and nice letter. It fits into my feelings and vision and pursue me to think of you as a good friend, though I’ve found your site not so long a ago (about a month or so). My life moves through hard crisises every 10 years and after every crisis I find myself in new fields of study and work, previous interests\professions fall off as rocket stages and if I try to use them they just don’t work :), no matter ho? successful I was in them on that previous stage. I also find new friends sharing my new interests and try not to bother old friends with my new occupations, because they can hardly share those new interests. Well, sometimes smth neutral still works, but when now my friends-atheists or my mom-atheist find me seriously “diving” into Buddism, they surely start to worry :). Anyway feeling of “in-between” life is familiar to me, former teacher of computer animation, former business trainer, former writer, etc. as well as life of diving into different fields one after another. The question is what to do when you find yourself starting exploring new field from the very beginning being 48 as I do now. Will I succeed in the foreseeable period of time, I worry? Do I really have enough time to do smth really significant starting so late? Will not I be too old in the times when I will be able to be useful, not only just study and work on myself?
    Do you have such worries in your young life…. sometimes? :)
    Best,
    Natalia

  9. Tara says:

    Lovely email and just what I needed to read at this moment! I recently started doing acroyoga because it fulfills my need for social interaction, community connection, and, of course, yoga and acrobatics. I’m currently considering how far I want to dive into this community (maybe go on some retreats, or train to become an instructor) versus other communities. There isn’t enough time in the day/week/month!

  10. Jim says:

    “In-between” has been my experience for much of my life. It appears to be part of being a multi. I am reminded of Richard Bach’s book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” where Jonathan discovers acrobatic flight. Reveling in his discovery, he returns to “Breakfast Flock” to show them, and is immediately cast out from the flock entirely. “Breakfast Flock” has but one goal: finding scraps of food and flying straight and level. Leaders of the flock abhor stepping away from what is known. Jonathan leaves, and ventures out into the unknown. He soon expands his flight envelope, learning to dive into the ocean from high altitudes and is able to catch succulent deep water fish that are unknown to Breakfast Flock. Yes being a multi has often been lonely, confusing, and bewildering for me personally. Yet I would not trade it for anything else. My hope is that I can someday find a specialist associate to work in tandem with. I recently saw where a chaos theory scientist and a fabric designer teamed up to create some incredible textile patterns. The fabric designer was unable to calculate the complex fractal mathematics, and the scientist possessed no art ability. Yet their collaborative efforts were simply stunning. A similar type experience is what I am hoping for.

  11. Ash says:

    Well-said, Emilie! I have often felt lonely feeling that I don’t fit into a group as well as people around me seem to. Until I met the multipotentialite/generalist community I thought I was destined to always feel an uneasy amount of detachment to other people. But through my variety I have found oneness/connectedness. What a lovely paradox!
    Thank you for doing your part to bring us together. Happy Holidays!

    P.S. If anyone is struggling to find a vocation or real-life community suitable for multipotentiality, lookup the concepts of “Systems Theory” and “Integral Theory”. I think it is the way of the future.

  12. Varius says:

    Emilie,

    I can relate to what is in this post well. It’s one of the reasons I am on your email list actually. After all, I have always wondered why at some point in my discoveries a barrier comes up and I decide to move on. I feel bad for hopping from thing to another. I’m afraid of diving so deep I lose time in the wrong place.

    But one thing I admire is a well-rounded person. I picture an archaic persona of charm, wit, and self-reliance who knows diverse information about the world and who has seen many things. I want to still have the adrenaline of excitement when I embark on a new journey and the mystery of what I will encounter next. I doubt I will ever get bored of my life if I become such a person.

    I want to have stories to tell and a home base filled with interesting things from my adventures. It’ll be cozy to bring so much history and many memories of the world with me back to my little corner of it. I don’t have much in the way of tradition or rooted history from my family like others might so it is a collection of the world I inherited and tell my story to the next generation.

    It feels like building a legacy and connecting this thought with the jumping around from different cultures and groups doesn’t make me feel so bad anymore. I learn and understand more from the people I meet and I can pass that lesson of dicovery, compassion, and tolerance on to others.

    The “in-between” is where I’m currently at right now. Soon I’ll be in school to try and learn something I’ve always wanted different from my previous job qualifications. I have waited a long while to take a good risk for myself and not let consideration for others hold me back. At some point though it is time to let that desire run its course. After I finish my degree I hope to travel to my favorite places and get some real world experiences.

    I wish you the best, Emilie. Your story is inspiration for me to make sense of my nature and use it to my advantage. I am grateful to have come across your work! Happy Holidays.

  13. April says:

    Being an introverted social butterfly plus multipotentialite definitely equals an in-between existence. In college, one of my close friends did something unexpectedly sweet and observant by throwing me a surprise birthday party and inviting my English major friends, travel abroad friends, dance friends and dorm friends. Few people both notice and appreciate such things.

    Happy holidays, Emilie, and thanks for being you and being here!

  14. Greg says:

    Ha ha- story of my life: different countries, cultures, experiences, not really fitting in anywhere. I’ve always been a little jealous of those folks who “belong” to a one-dimensional, little world where everybody is just like them. Afraid it will never exist for me. With independent thoughts and lifestyles, can often come loneliness. Still, best not to define ourselves by the group…

  15. Annie says:

    Hi Emilie –

    Thanks for your note. And yes, I have always been an incredibly social person (many different friend groups throughout life, hosting parties, etc), but because I haven’t laid down very “thick” roots with any one particular group, that has caused me to feel alone sometimes.

    I also don’t really know many other MP’s in my direct friend groups–I feel very, very alone in that sense. I feel like while my friends would rather veg out on the couch day after day, I need to be constantly reading books, writing articles, making elaborate meals, or creating art. Because of this, I feel very “different” from other people, like there’s only so many levels we can connect on.

    This is something I have struggled with my whole life, I’m nearing 30 and am still struggling. Glad to be a part of this community, though…it’s incredibly helpful to know I’m not “so alone.” So thank you.

    Btw, I just bought your book “Renaissance Business” (of course, I’m reading Vonnegut and “The Feminine Mystique” at the same time (haha, of course!), but hoping to finish it before January.

    Happy Holidays!

  16. Andy says:

    Emilie, thanks for your email and for your question. There are many aspects in life for which I would say the same thingyou did.

    One of those areas is music. If I were to choose an animal to represent me, I would choose a chameleon. I can fit in with many types of bands doing a very wide range of styles, and on a multiplicity of instruments. If I were by myself and were just turned loose to play whatever I wanted, I would confuse the public with my variety.

  17. Emilie Flambeaux says:

    Hello Emilie and fellow multis!
    I am French, I have been living in Scotland Mexico Philippines Czech republic… Always felt home and belonging there… Now back in France after a break up and quiting my job… I feel like a citizen of the world and I wonder where I will end ;-) Ups and downs as I keep trying to settle somewhere and fit in boxes… But I am nowhere and everywhere. I declare that I am the world!!! Love and love Emilie (the other one :-))

  18. Emily says:

    Thanks Emilie for your wishes and please, receive mine from France.
    I feel so much aligned with your post and Greg’s one (just above mine). I have friends which are so different that I cannot even think of getting them together.I see myself as always being in the in-between and I sometimes feel jealous (Hello Greg!) of people who live in groups where they stay together and meet each other for very long periods of time (even though I have 2 longtime ‘close friends’). If I join a group (sport, social activity) I very quickly want to take responsabilities or lead (the only way to remain interested in the topic). Then I start to be bored and it does not last for very long before I quit. Move and change is my mantra!

  19. Jess says:

    Hi Emilie

    Thank you for another great email. Every time I receive an email from you if it’s like a “light bulb moment”! Keep up the good work. Thank you!
    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

  20. I feel in-between in many areas: I’m an ambivert (both introvert AND extrovert), equally dominated by right and left brains, big-pictured oriented and small-detail-oriented, logic and heart centered, I am female with a very yang orientation (not male exactly, but yang, which is simply different), I love to travel but equally love arriving *home*. Some of the places I feel in-between have normal standard things associated–> I’m Jewish too, but I follow a non-dualistic practice, which is actually quite different from my jewish upbringing and makes me feel like an outsider with other Jews. I grew up in a suburban city, and live in one now too (single family dwelling, 1-3 cars per home, went to private school and my son goes to one too) but I thrive best in a small intentional community of spirit-centered people.
    I have several MP friends and find that I thrive best in creative relationships, where folks are thoughtful and deep, but not overly reliant on our friendship to make their world turn. I have an abundance of “best friends” who each provide something deep and heartfelt for me, and I in turn for them (in the past I’ve tried to *choose* just one and it has always backfired! I am a scanner in relationships too!).

  21. Lee says:

    I truly understand that most kids do not fit into a mold, and as we grow and mature those mold become more hard around the edges. I think that is why I became a special education teacher to help those kids get into something, yet I see this world is harder and harder as the years have gone by. I feel that we must just quit judging others, and be excellent to each other. Best of luck in Canada. We have been thinking about it too, since the election. Keep us informed about the good and bad of moving.

  22. Sandrine says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Wow! Do I ever feel like I’m always “in-between”! I was born in France, raised by a French mother while living for 5 years in Florida, then 5 more years in Toronto with a British-Canadian stepfather and spent all my holidays either in the south of France, the Caribbean or South Africa. Then, I moved back to Europe and lived in Luxembourg, Spain, Martinique and a little in Paris. I have now been living in Montreal, Quebec for the past 21 years. I speak 3 languages fluently and ALWAYS feel as though I am an alien everywhere and in everything I do.

    I am an intra-preneur with a passion for flying (airplanes and gliders), singing and songwriting, web marketing, scuba diving and hiking… of course other passions around those, but these are the main focus!

    This is why I joined the puttytribe a few weeks ago and I plan on being more active, but since then, I got laid off from the corporation I was working for – as Manager, Customer Care Europe, Middle East, Africa & Russia, (which is a bummer, but I’m sure it’s also an opportunity) and more importantly my dear grandma fell very ill and passed away before I was able to get to her (she was in France). So, I am now preparing to go to her funeral.

    When I come back mid-January, I will start focusing on what my next adventure could and will be.

    Until then, I wish you all happy moments with the ones you love… Thanks for being all so remarkable and thank YOU EMILIE for writing your amazing emails and providing us with this unique space.

  23. Lauren says:

    SO in-between! I live in a Buddhist house but dont really practice with the group. This is causing a schism. I’m in a new acting troupe but dont feel I relate to their concerns. Im in Toastmasters, but everyone is very normal, which puts me in a mode of hyper-awareness of not freaking anyone out yet staying authentic! Hilarious realization. Im a massage therapist but at times I cannot bear the thought of touching a person. I crave family, fun, games, but am a chronic loner. But guess what. IM HAPPY! I accept that I am highly selective and that Im too intense for most, although I may come off as light hearted as I have developed survival strategies to hide my emotion -from others not myself. Here, I feel I can reveal myself more. Wow. I JUST recognized that! Thanks everyone and Emily. You rock!

  24. Albert says:

    Very true in the in-between! In high school I did the same thing, hung out with different groups but never felt I belonged. I mainly hung with some international Asian friends, but sometimes hung with the computer nerds, others with the alternative rock crowd, and others to name. I grew up Christian and went to a Christian high school, yet wasn’t really one then (now a full blown Atheist), and the friends I hung out with had varying degrees of religion/non-religion.

    I did feel like that while I can agree and understand all my friends, I still felt like I was someone on the fringes, as if I am allowed in the club but never in the exclusive parts of it, and that was fine. My interests kept bouncing, of even had some interests that didn’t align with theirs. No one was at fault, and after that what was important is the value you see in life over common hobbies.

    Hope you will do well in BC, as myself I am currently a year in in Seattle after moving from the bay area and originally from SoCal.

  25. Chris Munger says:

    Thanks for finding me while I’m desperately trying to find myself!! I discovered and joined your tribe today and the sunshine and light it’s shedding onto my situation is the vitamin D (dazzling, do-it, damn it!) cocktail I needed.

    I’ve been living in Germany for the past 18 years. While lovely and advantageous in so many ways, Germany seems to me to be the capitol headquarters of “We don’t do it that way.” and “It’s never been done that way before.” Maybe it’s that way in the US, my homeland (which may not be for much longer!) as well, but I never paid any heed. But here, since I’m acutely aware of being a foreigner anyway, I feel myself butting up against that mantra in practically everything I do. And I don’t even have to leave my home to feel that way, because I’m married to a German. I’ve been struggling to hang on to what’s left of who I’m most comfortable being. So, in finding your community, Emilie, I think I can find and restore that inner dazzle! Thank you!!