The other day on Twitter, I was asked the following question:
As a multipotentialite, how do you convince people that you’re not just indecisive?
The short answer? You can’t.
Sorry, I know that’s not the most encouraging answer… But when it comes down to it, you can’t control other people’s opinions of you. However, what you CAN control, is the impact people’s opinions have on your life. Plus there are some things you can do to try and help them understand.
Lets unpack this further.
First, it’s a Systemic Problem
Although opinions about multipotentialites being indecisive dilettantes are incredibly offensive, most people don’t understand that. To most people, growing up and choosing one path is the norm. It’s just what we’re all “supposed to do”. It’s how life works.
This specialist mentality has been drilled into our heads from a very young age. Higher education is designed to push us to specialize. (I still remember when my college refused to let me take a math class because I was in an art program. HORRIBLE!) The workforce is largely skill-based too, though there’s some indication that this is changing.
The Idea that You Need to Specialize is a Modern Day Social Construction
What most of these naysayers don’t understand is that specializing isn’t some sort of inherent norm. It’s a modern attitude and it’s contextual. The norms were quite different back in Renaissance times, for example, when being proficient in many areas was considered the ideal.
The problem isn’t really that the naysayers in your life are jerks. It’s more that they don’t know any better. They’ve been raised with this false idea being pounded into their heads. It’s all they know.
Educating the People Closest to You
While it’s hard to convince naysayers (and definitely not the best use of your time), when it comes to those closest to you, you should absolutely try to educate them about what it means to be a multipotentialite. Here are some ideas:
- Get them a copy of Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose or Margaret Lobenstein’s The Renaissance Soul.
- Point them over to the Puttylike terminology page.
- Use an umbrella title or overarching theme when describing what you do.
- Conduct yourself with confidence. Instead of fighting with them, show them that you can make the multipotentiality thing work– that you’ve embraced it and that it’s a blessing in your life.
Cut Toxic People Out of Your Life
Don’t bother challenging the opinions of irrelevant/negative people. Just stay away.
Really, if there’s someone who disapproves of who you are, stop hanging out with them. How we feel and what we accomplish are a direct result of the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You have to protect yourself, so avoid the naysayers as much as possible.
Don’t Let their Disapproval Get to You
The best way to deal with false assumptions about multipotentiality, is by being so secure with your multipotentiality that these attitudes don’t phase you.
I’ve been much better at this since embracing my own multipotentiality and using it to fuel my work and my life. I used to have a real problem with naysayers. Their assumptions would make me incredibly angry and defensive. But now I love it when, for example, some well-intentioned relative asks me about my “plan for the future”.
I just smile, and calmly say, “I have a lot of plans… For instance, I want to publish a book, become a speaker, continue building my business, do more coaching, become a television writer, start movements, empower artists… that sort of thing.”
That’s usually where the conversation ends. The well-intentioned relative smiles, clearly thinking how naive I am: Silly girl. She’ll have to grow up eventually.
Let them think that.