Losing Interest in Something You are “Gifted” at
Photo courtesy of Abulic Monkey.

Losing Interest in Something You are “Gifted” at

Written by Emilie

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

I forgot how much fun it is to mix a song.

Music used to be my refuge. I went through a particularly rough period when I was 18-19. An important friendship had just ended, I was at a new school that was big and anonymous and my band of four years had disintegrated– My band, which was profoundly intertwined with my identity.

I survived this time by secluding myself in my basement and writing and recording my songs. The day my dad bought me an MBox 1 was one of the best days of my life. I taught myself how the microphones worked and I learned through trial-and-error that you can get a bigger sound by duplicating a track, panning one left and one right and moving them slightly out of sync. I taught myself audio production through experimentation.

For holidays, I would ask for new gear: a purple flanger peddle please, to go with my orange distortion. The detailed nature of mixing was both infuriated and deeply rewarding. Hours would melt away while I was in my little den, and I would emerge with a final product that I was so proud of.

But then one day, something happened. I stopped being able to write music.

That may sound dramatic, but all of my new songs began to feel stale and derivative. Lyrics were uninspired and the whole process, which used to bring me such joy, felt forced.

I decided to take a break from writing and focus instead on performing and learning jazz guitar. Eventually things got better for me in my personal life, and I emerged from my solitude, even made a few friends. I spent a summer in Boston studying music. I got to the finals in a songwriting competition (for songs I had already written) and was even awarded partial scholarship if I wanted to move there for school. It was a good summer.

But while I was enjoying playing in my ensembles and exploring where I could take my songs, I was still blocked when it came to creating anything new.

I kept trying to write, but nothing sounded good. Moreover, it wasn’t even fun anymore. I tried and tried. For another few years, I tried.

Finally, I had to admit something to myself. I had to admit that I had become bored.

But how could this be? Music was my life, my identity, my future. I had spent (my parent’s) money on so much gear. I had acquired a beautiful limited edition Taylor guitar. And worst of all, I was good at this. My songs were GOOD!

How could I have become bored at this thing I was so “gifted” at?

When you are a multipotentialite, people often tell you that you need to stick with something, that if you are giving it up, it’s because you’re afraid. I’ve found the opposite to be true. Usually I stick with something longer than I should out of fear.

It wasn’t fear or resistance or self-sabotage that was holding me back. In fact, the only fear that was present was the fear that was pushing me to keep trying, to stick with it. It was fear that was preventing me from letting go of this medium that I was comfortable in, and moving on to something new that I might not be so good at.

Meanwhile, I had decided not to study music in college, but to major in Communications/Film Production. I began writing scripts for my classes that were inspired by all of the teen dramas I that I loved growing up. I learned how to light a room, how to direct, I learned about the fourth wall and the rule of thirds. It was refreshing to work in a new medium. It was like exploring a new land, or using an entirely new sense.

As I became more involved in filmmaking, my shame around losing interest in music began to be eclipsed by my enthusiasm for film. The energy that I used to pour into my songs, I now poured into my short films.

That is, until… You guessed it, three years later, my interest in film began to wane.

It was around the same time when I happened to take one isolated law class. If film was a new world, then law was like an entirely different solar system. It was so different from anything I had ever explored. Torts? What the fuck is a tort? I was hooked… For two years.

And then I discovered entrepreneurship.

Reflecting Back

I wish I could have appreciated my shifts in identity/medium more. I wish I could have moved through them with grace and confidence instead of shame and anxiety. Had I known that they were completely in line with who I am (a multipotentialite), I would have been less afraid.

Looking back, all I want to do is give thanks. Thank you universe, for making me lose interest in music to make room for film. Thank you for making me lose interest in film to make room for law. Thanks for making me lose interest in law to make room for entrepreneurship. I acquired knowledge and tools through each journey. The experiences all add up and make my work in any medium — as well as my life — much more interesting.

And now, nearly ten years later, writing and recording music is not boring to me. It’s new and exciting again.

Your Turn

How has waning interest been a blessing in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

40 Comments

  1. Laurie says:

    There was an ache in my chest as I read this. Actually, it’s still there. In part because it was like reading my own story and in part because I wonder what my life would have been like if I had realized it’s perfectly okay to be just the way I am when I was much younger.

    I won’t even get into all the phases I’ve been through, the things I was good at but lost interest in as soon as I developed some skill. Its a ridiculously long list. When things are no longer new for me I get painfully bored. Thankfully I’ve (finally) discovered a way to dive deeply into an area of passion for a short period of time until a shiny new interest comes along and distracts me.

    Writing has been a life-changing career move for me. It’s an incredible feeling to discover a way to express my million and one interests without becoming a crazy person. If I haven’t become one already.

    Thanks for doing what you do Emilie.

  2. Willi Morris says:

    That is how I became with reading and writing and admin work. I recognized my strengths but got bored. I actually wrote a blog post on Read.Learn.Write on why I stopped reading. It was very disheartening, but I am make a comeback! Great post!

  3. Josh says:

    For me it was that songs came no problem, but not much was being done with them afterwords. But now that I’m interested in learning business and marketing, I tend to get more cynical about music and the arts. It’s mainly that when I focus on something I get REALLY focused on that one thing, then I move on to something else.

    I like what you said about it coming back though. And it will in the right time as it did with you. When you have a gift or life purpose whether it be music, writing a book, or inventing a product that changes the world, it won’t let you go so you end up coming back however many times.

    • Emilie says:

      Yeah, I like the cyclical nature of my interests too. Somehow you’re always better prepared the second time around. It’s like, you may have put the particular medium aside, but there was still some learning going on in your brain. It’s cool.

      • Joshua Lundquist says:

        I didn’t know it at the time, but my cycle and transition away from music and into comedy was smooth because I was able to write more abundantly because of comedy, dip into genres I had never touched and not take music so seriously… That was only because I decided I wanted to write a comedy podcast, and I’m so glad I went with that. Now after knowing about multipotentiality, it totally fits with the variety world I created in that show.

        And yeah, the idle / background learning and growth that happens when you’re away from an interest is so fascinating

  4. E. K. Carmel says:

    When I first found this site, I thought it would help me understand my daughter. She recently talked with me about dropping playing her french horn, which she enthusiastically began about 4 years ago.

    I’d been wondering why she no longer wanted to practice and she burst into tears when explaining she had lost her interest. I was kind of shocked because she is so gifted and we all thought that music was “it” for her.

    This site is helping me understand and while going through back posts, I realized I’m a multipotentialite myself. Thank you, Emilie, for this website. It’s made a difference to me and my family.

  5. Teri says:

    Your story is my story. I like the word you use — multipotentialite. I always thought of myself as a dilettante. My journey was circuitous like yours. As a teenager, I enjoyed baking. I tried my hand as a pastry chef. Making cakes for money took the joy out of it for me. Later, I went to law school and practiced law for 15 years until it became too boring and too stressful. Now I consider myself an independent film maker and internet entrepreneur. Guess what the topic of my website is? Cakes! Funny, huh? Well…now I produce how to cake films and articles at my own website…CakePlayGround.com. Come check it out and see what another multipotentialite is doing. You will see that you are definitely not alone.

  6. So you were a Communications major too, eh? I did not know that. I focused on the Rhetorical Studies sides of Communications as opposed to the Radio/TV/Film (the other sub-speciality at UW-Madison). I was much more interested in analyzing what people had already said compared to creating something new to express the current state of the world.

    Since I wasn’t going to be a speech writer, I basically picked a path to what people saw an unemployment. I mean, how valuable could deeply understanding how and why people communicate be?

    Well, my interests in speeches and public speaking waned significantly as I entered the corporate workforce. But now that I’ve chosen to pursue entrepreneurship as well, my rhetorical studies are back with a vengeance! Toastmasters and getting my own public speaking gigs are some of my primary business goals and I go after them with abandon! I didn’t realize what I missed until living intentionally gave me the chance to revive something dormant inside me.

    • Emilie says:

      Ha yeah! I actually hated coms theory when I was forced to take it in first year, but I think I would be much more interested now.

      Entrepreneurship is such a great vehicle for multipotentialites, huh? It really allows us to bring any or all of our interests into our work. I love that.

  7. Elsa James says:

    I’ve always had some iteration of an art project on the go, usually only lasting a few months at a time. I guess the thing that I’m starting to realise (for me at least), is that sometimes there is merit in staying. I’ve never lasted long enough to really perfect one skill or to discover what happens when you push through the boredom. I always reach that point, usually feel of mix of exhaustion and frustration and give it the flick. For me personally, I’m challenging myself to push on, because I sense that there is a whole other level of creative genius on the other side.

    What I like about your situation Emilie is that whilst you gave music a rest, you focused on script writing and film making, which I’m sure in turn helped your music. I think if there’s some sort of inter-connectedness between the projects in helping you to grow & evolve, that’s probably even more satisfying and beneficial than just sticking to one thing.

  8. Hong-Anh says:

    Hey thanks for your writings here Emilie. I just love reading them. The other day I was googling “I am a quitter” to see what people have to say about that because I am definitely a serial quitter. I did really have some good quits but I was also afraid of being a quitter who simply quits when hitting a wall on the way. But when I found your article “Why you should be a quitter…..” I felt much better about myself.

    Oh yeah I am a pharmacist turned development worker turned sociologist turned policy researcher — and of course people think it’s not good to jump all over the place. But I agree that it is not good to stay with something you don’t like (and unhappy about that for sure) or you simply lost interest in it. That’s actually the two main reasons for my shifts: (1) I tried something and didn’t like it, so I moved to something else; (2) I tried something, I loved it, then one day the interest is simply gone, and I also moved to something else. For the 2nd scenario I can’t explain why it happened but it did happen to me that way. Perhaps it’s just the way it is.

  9. Mary says:

    It’s so interesting to see these stories!! At my age (in my early 50s) I’ve spent a life time trying to “do something to the end”. I ended up choosing teaching as a career path – at least each day wasn’t the same. I moved schools every few years (because I got bored) and even rose through the ranks to being a Principal – all beacuse I was off and racing towards the next challenge. My passion finally burnt out (aka – I got bored) and since then I’ve been on a mission to find out what I “really want to do” (believing, after a life of being told there should be one thing, that I was just having a late midlife crisis.) I’ve done counselling, management, child protection, realestate…….
    In all honestly – I’ve always been the same. In my none work pusuits I’ve done various forms of dance, Martial Arts, fine art (mainly collage and art journalling – not so boring to me), gardening, interior design, crochet, latch hook rug making, photography, kayaking, outrigger paddling ……. I could go on for days. If anyone asks me if I have a hobby – I can never think of one.
    After years in education, I finally decided that maybe I was ADD before ADD was invented!!
    Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. Maybe I can stop looking for myself now and realise I’ve never been lost. I just am what I am. A Mutipotentialite :)

    • Jon Shmulovich says:

      I kind of feel the same way too. While many people here said they changed their interests, you were the only person to say you kept trying to reach the higher level. And now that I look at it, I guess I always found my work as a chance to prove myself to the world, and that is why my work has to be a kind of goal where I can always look for a next level, whether it be making your business national instead of regional, being a principal instead of a teacher, working with a better level of musicians a more skilled level of musicians (the passion I lost is music). I sometimes wonder if depression is what kills my musical passion, or if my musical passion’s waning has made me depressed. But I especially liked your response though Mary: thanks for your comment.

  10. Hannah says:

    Hey Emilie,

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    It really resonated with me, as I’m also a lapsed gifted musician. I used to be good – to the point where I completed all grades on three instruments, loved composing, wanted to go to music school and become a musician. A lot of personal/family stuff killed that desire for me (for example, the fact that there was a lot of pressure to be the best, but I wasn’t allowed to say “I’m good at music” because that was ‘boasting’, so in my mind I became “not good enough”). Consequently, I just wanted to get away from it when I left home. Since then, I’ve gone through periods of really regretting the fact that my skills have slipped (it was also a hugely entwined with my identity and self-worth), but reading your post has reminded me that composition more than playing was the thing that really brought me joy. Looking at my experience through the multi-potentialite framework takes away all the emotional stuff that was wrapped up in music for me and helps me see it as something I now enjoy spending time on – which feels much better :)

    • Joshua Lundquist says:

      Hey Hannah

      As someone who put down music making / composition for a good two years after coming to Japan, then finally getting back into it, I would say that you never quite lose the skill of composition.

      After producing electronic music, when I came back to it I started up with guitar, drums, bass and a 4-track.

      So if you get back into it, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s through a new instrument / media / musical conduit, which can be exciting. Yet whenever you come back to an old passion there is awkwardness but it’s an exciting awkwardness.

    • Jon Shmulovich says:

      I don’t think you ever lose composition either. Performance is the one you lose, and even then, I do believe you can get it back. I think composition certainly changes. Like a lot of heavier rock bands don’t want to embrace the fact that they don’t feel the angst they did when they were 20 and try to write in that perspective still rather than a perspective of a middle aged man or even a senior citizen. The gift to write I think is always there, we just gotta follow it. But like you, I am always thinking about who is better than me. And it’s no matter in what I do, even if not music. I gotta figure out how to enjoy things without always comparing myself to others. I thank you for this post and am glad you have found clarity!

  11. I started off with art / (illustration) as a kid to my early adult life eventually got bored, went to music, eventually got bored at that, went back to art (but design related this time) went to school got a degree in visual communication (mainly print design). Only to leave school and then morph into building websites, which after about 5 years I hated. Went back to print design, and moved back to making music during this time and fell in love with Film, and video, SFX – post production. Producing and post producing allows me to use, writing, design, illustration, music, and audio production all together. Which I really like that at this point all of my talents get to converge. In my current business no 2 days ever look similar. It keeps me on my toes and stops me from being bored too easily.

    Funny you mention the mbox 1, I was going thru old boxes and found mine and don’t want to sell it on ebay. lol. It has focusrite pre -amps the later models do not have it was a good piece of equipment sad that digidesign stop supporting it in their software. I just found a driver that will allow it to connect to ML on PTLE10. Crazy. Awesome post.

  12. Michael says:

    After reading the post I had to sit back and really think about it for a moment. I don’t think there is anything I lost interest in persay. I guess I just didn’t make the time to do the things that I really, really liked to do. I mean my first love was always the game of football. I had dreams of playing pro when I was young. I think I took it as far as I could. I haven’t been around the game since I quit playing so I guess if anything, I’d like to be able to give something back in some capacity may it be writing, coaching, promotions or scouting. Recently I’ve taken some baby steps to start a blog about the game but I’m constantly arguing with myself about how far to take it and what content to supply it with. (Maybe I’m just thinking too much about it which is causing my paralysis.)

    I’ll figure it out hopefully sooner than later.

  13. Dee Kaph says:

    I’ve had similar experience.. actually, the whole first half reads like my life: discover music, be very talented and record hundreds of songs (some of which I’m still selling a decade later), then get stuck in funk, self-loathing over not being able to produce new material… and, I did the same thing as you – I found other mediums. Keep it fresh. Try scrapbooking and collage, welding, gardening… intensely creative people need a regular influx of new and amazing.

  14. niko says:

    amazing read. i’m getting in to my 30s’, and been wondering lately why i’m losing the fight with being a ‘multipotentialite’, rather than looking at it as a blessing.

    thanks very much, i’ll pass this on. great read.

  15. Cindy says:

    I’m not sure I can explain it to other people how much posts like these are important to me.

    To read, after all these years, that it’s okay to change, that it’s okay to get bored and pursue new things. Two days ago I was crying because I quit engineering school after six years and sometimes I felt like a failure. My boyfriend said I’m not a failure, my parents would never say I’m a failure, and still, it means so much to read that other people go trough this too. That I’m not alone in this.

    That it’s okay. That I’m okay.

    …thanks, so much thanks

  16. Constance says:

    “Usually I stick with something longer than I should out of fear.” This. This defines me and my “career moves” up until this point – which is to say, I have none, or rather, one. I have worked as a police dispatcher for 6 years, my first and only real job out of college (I started when I was 20). I used to find it exciting and engaging and meaningful, but lately I just find it to be irritating and frustrating and boring, and I can not wait to leave everyday and come home. I stay because I am afraid. I live alone and have no family to fall back on, and so I stay because I know I won’t get paid as well doing anything else with an associate’s degree and starting out at the bottom of a totem pole.

    I don’t know if I am a multipotentialite. Sometimes I think of all the super rad things I’d like to do (roller derby! diving! traveling the world!), but other times when people ask me what I am passionate about, I draw blanks and just shrug. I look at the columns and columns of degree programs offered to further my education, and I am just paralyzed with indecision and fear. I just don’t know what to do. It’s nice having a name to “what’s wrong with me,” now I just need to figure out what to do about it.

  17. Megan says:

    I just found your website sitting in my art class, the subject being my so-called “gift.” I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was five, and coming from a conservative family they’ve been supportive enough of me this whole time. But I was fighting this feeling since I started college that my gift felt more like a chore than a calling. I realized this when I took a film literature class and had to do my own film, it was so much more fun than I had imagined, and the feeling stayed with me longer than I anticipated. I actually have many interests; in playing the guitar, singing, dancing, and even video games. I still have my doubts and uncertainties up to now, but reading this post has given me the smallest hope that let’s me know that it’s ok for me to feel this way. You definitely had me at “sticking with something longer out of fear,” as that’s exactly how I feel. I hope to have the courage to be able to pursue any of these things without uncertainty and to find my inspiration again. Thank you for sharing.

    • Emilie says:

      That’s awesome, Megan. I’m glad I could help. Know that there are thousands (millions?) of people out there who have many passions and do many things. You are definitely not alone in this.

  18. Mandie says:

    I have been through the same motions as you. I have been a singer my whole life and through bad experiences and difficult people, I lost the desire to sing. I had something new to come into vision that made me come alive! The fervency I had for singing is now in my new desire. I went through what people said was me running from what “I”, was supposed to do to feeling forced. I can’t decode it this season was over for singing or if discouragement through circumstances caused this or both. Thanks for the article!

  19. Jon Shmulovich says:

    I am so glad I came across this and finding people who feel what I feel. Music used to be my religion, and my identity. I guess music gave me a place to belong (something I have had trouble finding during the six years I have had my waning musical interest). I miss the amazing feeling that I get when listening to music. For a while I was very ashamed of my waning passion, but now I’m not, though I still would love for it to come back more than anything. As my sister pointed out, all I have been caring about for the last few years is just food and sex. The most upsetting part about my musical phase maybe passing me is how much creativity I had with it and potential as a player. I was having a lot of success this year on the local circuit, but still just was not enjoying it, like forcing my heart to stay in music. Ever since I lost interest, I have had trouble finding a stable group of friends or having a girlfriend (it’s hard to relate to others when I don’t even know myself anymore) and finding something I really love doing besides just watching tv with friends. Anyways, thank you for posting this and I am definitely going to read more of your stuff. I certainly am a multi-potentialite as I am also very good with numbers, and in the past have had great ideas for articles. I am about to finish my final year of college and I am trying to let the music part of me take another rest while I explore other options be it non-profit work, film, Asian culture. I am not going to let my final year of college be another less than amazing year.

    P.S- Perhaps you write about depression with multipotentialites? I think part of my musical passion waning is maybe that I am depressed? Or maybe my waning passion came first and then made me depressed.

    Anyways, thanks a lot and peace out!

  20. Ky'Re Clay says:

    I enjoyed reading this because of the relevance but I believe i’ve just lost inspiration. I freakin love drawing. In art class I wouldn’t lounge around, the whole time i’m drawing unless “there’s a disturbance in the force”. It has to be inspiration because when i’m at home I don’t feel like drawing. I loaf around the house and play video games but i’m bored doing that. I would also like to make videos but uploading is a pain because of my cruddy pc. Very cruddy. So I need inspiration to draw and I need better technology to share videos. I also want better technology to put my imagination in brilliant color, lighting, and motion! My dream is to become an animator, possibly a game designer, possibly an engineer on the side.

  21. Robert Scott says:

    I just read this after Googling “why do I loose interest in things I enjoy.” I came across your blog and now have a new term for my vocabulary–mulitpotentialist–and now, something to look in to. I didn’t know there was a name for this condition. I started out in commercial art, then photography, to writing, to fine art, to photography, to wood working, to music. And at 42, I’m really frustrated at not having a more firm grip on one thing. I really got into the music and it seems soem parts of it are dying that I don’t want to let go. I’m still enamored by some aspects of it and a part of me wants to move beyond a hobbyist to a serious amateur. Photography is practically dead to me, and I have little interest in fine art. I don;t want it to happen again.

  22. JustAnotherCommenter says:

    This sounds eerily familiar. I had a special talent and passion for art for most of my life. I recently realized that I have no interest in it anymore. I do feel shameful and guilty, especially when I tell others and they seem so shocked… and I can’t decide what my next interest should be. I don’t want to be trapped into my original interest for the rest of my life if the passion isn’t there, but I feel trapped and depressed.

    Interestingly enough, I’m taking a film-related class, too, and I enjoy it a lot. Perhaps I should take my life into that direction? I don’t know right now.

    I’ve also been told I’m good at all sorts of things. I’ve never heard the term “multpotentialite” before. It seems to be a synonym to “polymath”, a word often applied to intelligent, creative, successful people like Stephen Fry, who have careers with variety. It seems to fit me, and variety is the spice of life, no?

    Sometimes it is hard being talented at many things, because sooner or later you have to choose what to do.

  23. Esther says:

    Oh! How nice. I am not crazy mad or bad. Neither am I alone. Phew!

  24. Joe says:

    I am glad you wrote this. I was freaking out! I used to spend hours writing music and now I get bored after 5 minutes. It never occurred to me that I might want to explore other interests. This article pretty much sums up everything I am experiencing. Thank you for sharing!

  25. nersonangelo says:

    Thank you Emilie.. :)

    For me as a composer, I always experience this, and actually is experiencing at present. To fight this, I try to look at my true goal. For me music is not a goal but a track, a playing field. Real goal always will include giving something to people, or humanity if you like. In my very own experience, every time I let myself get distracted, time leaves me behind, then once I realize I wasted my most precious commodity (time) I get depressed, then I would start telling myself I lost interest, this is getting very boring, but there are days when I was able to really stick to the plan, I become very interested and full of life and passion to music, I sleep really fulfilled and excited for another turn tomorrow.. But then thats just me..

    Thanks much.. :)

  26. Dom C. says:

    Thank you very much for this post. I really needed to read something like this. I was in bands from the age of 12 to 25 and from 25 to 27 I was a sound artist (experimental music and stock sounds for commercials and films) as well as a poet. I’ve been published, I’ve been signed to record labels, I’ve released albums, I’ve played over 250 live shows in a variety of venues, I’ve produced other people’s demos, I’ve created album art; basically, I’ve lived the dream to some extent and I am very grateful for every second of it. Now, though, deep into my 28th year, I’ve pretty much run out of steam. It’s not that I can’t write or play music anymore, it’s just that I don’t find any joy in it. I find that my passions get in the way of other pursuits at this time. Though I’ve done a lot of cool stuff with my art, there is a price I have payed. I don’t have much money, I’ve never had a significant relationship, and I just feel much more immature than my peers. I think that the very art that has defined my life has also held me back in some regards. I’ve been completely unproductive for months now. I was in a deep depression for a while but now I’ve begun working, working out, and seeking new social situations. I’m even considering going back to school to become an English teacher. For now, though, I just feel very wayward. Cheers and thanks!

  27. steven says:

    No no no! shit.. that wasnt. The. Ending I was hoping for… I I regognise myself in your story but I dont want to make way for the new… ive. Lost my drive but I want music in my new life too god damn it!!! People always tell me im gifted but I just cant write anymore… please re-write xD I need some inspiration

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