Editor’s Note: this is a guest post by Thea van Diepen.
So, yes, that title is a bit of an oxymoron. Except for the fact that it isn’t.
Lets say you’re working on building a foundation that will allow you to thrive as a mutipotentialite. Maybe you’re completing a university degree or spending time in a career that requires up-front work but won’t need as much effort from you afterwards in order to bring in the dough. In those situations where specialization is the norm, multipotentialites can have a difficult time if they try to do things the way everyone else is doing them.
The good news is that you don’t have to completely deny your multipotentiality while mastering your (current) core focus. Here are a few tips to help you “specialize” while still embracing your multifaceted nature.
1) Learn from Unorthodox Sources
I’m an author. Most authors, when they want to learn how to improve their stories, read a lot of stories. While I love reading, sometimes I’m just too inundated with all the other things I have to read for university. Movies and TV shows are an obvious possibility. But you don’t have to learn about story just from stories.
How about learning the technique of foreshadowing from a music video? Or how about learning how to use story/essay/blog post outlines by sketching? Let your natural creative process rule. You can learn how to adapt it to any sort of process you may encounter.
If you can learn how to see what you do in everything around you, then you can translate skills and knowledge useful in one medium to any other medium. It’s like how learning languages helps you get better at the one(s) you already speak. What are the elements involved in this new thing? How are they similar to what you’re already working on?
2) Purposefully put Things Together that don’t Normally go Together
With my latest book, I put the undead, a fairy tale, a person’s struggle with faith, and an Eastern story structure into a pot and stirred. Yes, it could very easily go very wrong. But it didn’t, somehow. Use your multipotentialite abilities to bridge the unrelated, to make them fit in new ways, to come together and surprise you. The best way to do this is to simply follow your gut.
Pretend like your major focus is a planet, and all the other ideas, concepts, or things in life are floating about like space debris. If something sticks to your planet, if it excites you or it just seems to intuitively work together on some level, then keep it. Let the good stuff sift out and attract to your planet, building the mountains and rivers and those creepy little insects that make life go round.
3) Stay Loose
In fencing, you need to be relaxed. Tensing up causes you to lose your range of motion and your ability to react quickly. You need to be able to pay attention to all that’s happening so that you can act with the appropriate focus in the moment that will either block your opponent from getting a point, or that will lead towards you getting it yourself.
Life is like fencing. A balance of using just the point of your blade and using your entire body. Be open to all the things that could work, don’t worry about the things that don’t. Stay positive, always look for how what you’re doing will benefit your multipotentiality. (Note: did you see how I used the analogy of fencing to illustrate this point? That’s an example of point #1 above.)
The Importance of Framing things Correctly in your Mind
The way you frame things is the single most important factor dictating what you can give to an experience and what you will then get out of it. If you are convinced that the situation you’re in will suck your soul dry and that you will hate every single moment of it, then that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Did I mention I want to get my doctorate? In psychology, one of those fields that is so broad and diverse and yet they tell you that you have to specialize into just one, specific thing?
I could be looking at all those years of school as necessary drudgery. I mean, it would make sense. Even specialists tend to look at school that way, because they’re not yet doing what it is that they love.
But why have a negative attitude when I could instead plan my years so that I can fulfill all my requirements while still taking freaking awesome and random options classes? (Astronomy, anyone?) What about planning those required courses so that they apply to as many areas of your life and as many of your interests as possible? Everything you learn can be transferred to every other area of your life.
Ooo ooo ooo! How about taking advantage of having a Reading Week/Spring Break without any homework (or with very little) and going to visit a friend? Or doing ridiculous fun things/travelling between degrees? I mean, who says we can’t take a year or two off between our Bachelors and Masters?
The possibilities are endless with the right point of view. What freedoms does this specialized field I’m pursuing offer? Discover them all, make the most of them, and have fun.
Multipotentialite the heck out of being a specialist.
Yes. Multipotentialite is a verb now, too.
How have you used your multipotentilaity to make a specialist pursuit more fun and interesting?
Thea van Diepen hails from the snowy land of Canada and that fairest of cities, Edmonton, Alberta. She is, of course, completely unbiased (being a psychology student) and is also obsessed with Orphan Black, the books of Madeleine L’Engle, and all kinds of languages. Her latest book, The Illuminated Heart, is available as an ebook on Amazon, Kobo, and her website. The paperback comes out later this month.