“I don’t like labels,” is a sentiment I hear a lot. As a queer person, it’s one I understand well.
Nobody, let alone a multipotentialite, likes being categorized or put into a box.
I generally prefer to live without labels, too. However, there are some instances when labels can actually be freeing and you can use them to your advantage. Lets talk about how to use labels to make progress on your goals. Then we’ll talk about when labels are unhelpful and when to ditch them.
What about the Label “Multipotentialite”?
Before we discuss how you can make use of labels, I want to address the elephant in the room. “Multipotentialite” is a label. I know this.
However, the difference between “multipotentialite” and say, “writer” or “computer engineer”, is that multipotentialite is an umbrella label– it’s extremely broad. It says nothing about what someone’s particular interests are, only that they have more than one. Each multipod looks different from the next, but using the term is a way of saying that you are not a monopath. That’s all it says. Anything beyond that is going to require a conversation.
Labels Can Help Us Feel Less Alone
This gets to one of the most powerful things about labels: they can make you feel less alone. If you know that there are other people out there who are wired this way, it’s extremely comforting and freeing.
Labels allow us to find each other, come together and get support and insight into ourselves and where we should be moving in life. They make us feel as though we are a part of something bigger, that we belong.
If adopting the label “multipotentialite” gives you a sense of purpose and belonging, like it does for me and many other people in this community, then use it. However, if you no longer feel like you need the label or that term even strikes you as too restrictive, then ditch it. That’s fine by me. Do what works for you. You’re still welcome here.
How to Use Labels Strategically
Beyond bringing people together and providing a sense of community, the conscious and strategic use of self-labeling can help you move forward in your projects and goals.
Lets say you want to start exercising, but you’ve really struggled with getting yourself to the gym in the past. In addition to getting some outside support, you might also try consciously adopting the label “athlete”. Just to yourself.
What would happen if you began thinking of yourself as an athlete? Would you be more likely to work out? I bet you would. Because what do athletes do? They work out.
Similarly, if you are starting a business, one of the best things you can do is begin thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. If you take on that identity, you will feel a greater drive to hustle and create. Because after all, that’s what entrepreneurs do.
Want to write a book? Start thinking of yourself as a writer. What do writers do? They write. Bam, you’re off and writing.
How Other People Mess this Up for You
The technique I just described only works if you assign the label to yourself. It doesn’t work when someone else assigns it to you and you don’t believe it or embrace it.
In fact, I would leave other people out of this process entirely, or make sure that the people you share your label with understand your multipotentialite nature and respect it.
Problems happen for multipotentialites when OTHER PEOPLE begin labeling you. Calling myself a writer is very helpful for me at times. It helps me take my writing seriously and motivates me to write my book, but when I hear someone else describe me solely as a writer, I cringe. I am NOT just a writer.
When to Ditch Labels
When is it time to ditch a label? Simple. Ditch a label when it is no longer in alignment with what you want to be moving toward. That’s when labels become restrictive.
A slight word of warning. One of the most devastating things about being a multipotentialite is when you identify too strongly with a label and then find yourself losing interest in that field. Suddenly, you don’t know who you are anymore.
It’s really tempting to do this, to think to yourself, “Yes! I found my true calling, finally. This is it. Forget all those years of jumping around, I found it!” And then get so wrapped up in this vision of yourself that when the boredom comes, with it comes an identity crisis.
I experienced this identity crises several times before knowing that I was a multipotentialite. I felt it when I lost interest in music (“But I’m a musician! I’m so good at this.“), when I lost interest in film (“But I made all these great short films. I was at the top of my class!“) and when law no longer sounded like fun (“But I spent 3 years studying this stuff!“). Each time I was left feeling like I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The key is always keeping in mind that you are, in your heart, a multipotentialite. Know that learning and expanding your mind is always valuable, whether or not it leads to a particular outcome.
As you consciously choose to adopt labels and drop them, keep your multipod nature in the back of your head. That way if you do lose interest in an area, you aren’t losing your whole sense of self.
How do you make use of labels? Do you use them strategically, deny them entirely or use them in some other way?