I was talking to a friend who’s been stuck on a very ambitious project. He’s making progress, but when we talk he drifts into the negative, chastising himself for not doing this or that, then painting the whole situation as hopeless.
It’s as if he is saying that if he can’t do it, it’s because nobody can. Now, I’m not blaming him for being afraid. But I think he knows what he should be doing: working. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. He needs a reason to believe that his work will pay off.
Sometimes talking to people who just haven’t made the transition into acceptance can be a downer. My friend is a talented guy with a foot planted in two different, but not opposing interests: painting and architecture.
The shame is that he sees this as a bad thing. I start feeling like a broken record when I tell him about multipotentiality and how you can embrace having more than one thing. I tell him about how the community I am apart of has changed me in so many great ways.
But I get the feeling he isn’t ready to hear all that. So I don’t force it. If only I could give him a community of distraught architects battling the same things as him…
The biggest benefit a community has is the change in mentality it brings about.
And suddenly I feel like an evangelist, trying to convince non-believers of something they would prefer to be skeptical about.
Skepticism as a “Reality Check”
I get it, I have that skeptical side to me, too.
I used to make it hard for people to convince me of anything if it sounded too positive, too “woo woo”, or “too good to be true.” I believed that through my skeptic’s lens I was somehow omniscient –as if my skepticism let me know all that was possible and all that wasn’t in the world. Skepticism was my “reality check.”
I now know that the skepticism I clung to so faithfully was partly my ego holding me back.
That ego or whatever it was, kept my possibilities for what could be true limited. If something good came along, then I had to keep my radar up. My bullshit detector would lead me the right way, or so I assumed.
What I didn’t know then was that my skepticism was founded largely on external judgements and expectations, the status quo and habits of thought that I hadn’t questioned. I hadn’t been skeptical of my own skepticism.
I needed to see cold hard evidence of the existence of a “good” side to dabbling, to being a “dilettante,” to what I thought was my own lack of resolve, in order to be convinced. I needed to see it working to let my stubborn old brain believe it.
Fortunately, when I found resources like Refuse to Choose and Puttylike, and these new words that put a positive twist on what I had assumed was a terrible penchant for indecision, it just felt good. That was exactly how it felt: too good to be true. But it was true.
It felt like the part of me that was cast in a shadow of doubt had been allowed to bask in the sun after all this time.
My posture changed immediately, I walked outside on my lunch break and I was elated, the weather looked more beautiful outside, and I wanted to tell everybody what I had discovered. It was the closest to an epiphany I’ve ever had. I used to be skeptical of epiphanies. “What, everything just clicks for you in one moment? Ok, then what?”
“Then what?” was always my cynical rhetorical question I would pose to the idea of epiphanies. Now I can answer that.
Once you realize that being this way is a gift, you become more productive, you become happier because you have recognized something about yourself that is a strength, instead of something that needs “fixing.” You’ve exchanged a weakness for a strength.
We All Know that Multipotentialites have Struggles
Time management, having a ton of stuff on your plate (or in our case, having several plates with stuff on them), explaining to people that you don’t have just ONE thing that you’re about, etc.
The list goes on. But we have a whole community dedicated to dealing with these struggles and challenges. We reach out to each other and it feels good, accepting someone like yourself is kind of a great shortcut to accepting yourself.
Community Can Help You Do the Work in the Face of Skepticism
There is real benefit to a community, and I shouldn’t have to feel like I need to convince you of how great it’s been to be apart of this community. You won’t know until you try it.
I’m not getting paid to endorse the Puttytribe, it is simply a good thing that I want to talk about.
There needs to be more of this, of effective, empathetic community. Imagine what we could get done if we focused on the potential we all have as we are rather than seeing every path other than our career path as a distraction, or every desire to try new things as a weakness, or seeing every hurdle as a result of some flaw!
The next time skepticism is getting you down, try surrounding yourself with people who not only believe that anything is possible, but are actively doing the work to make it so. If you can’t find them in friends or in your town, reach out on the web and find your community there.
How have you overcome your own skepticism, and where did it lead you?
Josh does music, web design and comedy in Tokyo living with his wife and 3 year old daughter. While there is a word for “multipotentiality” in Japanese (?? Tan?), Japan is the land of taking interests and hobbies to extreme levels of specialized knowledge (see “?taku”). Josh hopes to raise awareness about the “Tan? one way or another. You can find Josh online at anincrediblewasteoftime.com and on Twitter @lundquistjoshua.