So I’m A Multipotentialite… What Now?!
Photo courtesy of Luis Pérez.

So I’m A Multipotentialite… What Now?!

Written by Neil Hughes

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

Congratulations! You’re a multipotentialite!

At least, I expect you are, because you’re reading this article.

Maybe you’re not sure. In that case, I’d like to remind you that there’s no barrier to entry. You don’t have to have a bizarre combination of jobs, you don’t have to speak multiple languages, you don’t have to do anything in particular. It’s about finding that the identity is “home” for you.

If you think you might be a multipod, you probably are one. Welcome.

For many, discovering their multipotentiality is a powerful experience.

You know those movies where a baby gets raised by an alien species, and when they eventually meet other humans there’s a powerful emotional release as they’ve finally come home? Realizing that other multipotentialites exist can be a similarly massive moment.

I don’t want to oversell it; obviously, neither multipods nor specialists are aliens. Meeting your actual species for the first time is probably a bigger deal.

But it’s definitely a relief to realize that you’re not the only one hearing the life-long background noise nudging you to “Specialize! Give up! Settle!”

I’d committed to the idea of a portfolio career before I’d ever heard of the idea. I still wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t discovered the multipotentialite tribe so soon after. Maybe I’d have given up.

Going it alone was exhausting and lonely. And even today, the thrill of “coming home” still makes me smile.

But the initial high inevitably fades, so it’s only natural to ask: what next?!

As ever, there’s no multipotentialite rulebook – part of the point is often forging our own paths. However, these ideas might be helpful whichever way we go:

Accept yourself (if you don’t already)

If you’ve spent years squeezing yourself into a box that’s too small, you might continue to shrink yourself even once you’re outside of the box.

Perhaps you’ve always felt guilty for dreaming of new creative hobbies instead of focusing on professional development.

Or maybe you’re forcing yourself to finish something that no longer has any draw for you, out of a misplaced belief that you “ought” to have the same singular drive you see in others.

Have you developed a habit of forcing yourself to deny your multipotentiality? If so, perhaps you can embrace your nature a little more.

Old habits are deeply ingrained, so be kind to yourself. And be excited; you don’t have to live in that box you created anymore!

Inform your Decisions

New pieces of self-knowledge – like “I’m a multipotentialite!” – are useful for making decisions.

Imagine making all your career decisions without knowing that you’re a multipotentialite. Each decision could feel like a crushing choice between different prisons!

But such decisions become a simpler when we view them in full knowledge of our natures. There’s an extra consideration to help us choose: “which option is most in line with my multipassionate nature? And can I combine options?”

Of course, other considerations – practicalities, finance, time, family, etc. – remain important. But judging our options in the light of multipotentiality helps with discernment.

Review Your Current Circumstances

Regular life reviews are a good habit to adopt anyway, but after a big revelation it’s particularly important to evaluate how we’re living. Try asking yourself this question: now that I know I’m a multipotentialite, what would I like to be different in my life?

Here are some thoughts to get you started. Perhaps you’d like a new job? To have more than one job? More scope for variety in your current role?

Don’t forget about your free time. Are you making time for your passions? If not, how could you do so? When was the last time you picked up a new passion?

Don’t use multipotentiality as an excuse

It’s possible to misuse multipotentiality. (This is true of literally everything. You can misuse science, cheese, power tools… I actually struggle to think of anything you could not possibly misuse.)

The likely downside of multipotentiality is that it can provide the ideal excuse for inaction: “Oh, I can’t possibly do this (whatever “this” is)… How could I ever commit to just one thing?”

This excuse applies to everything, so if we get into the habit of thinking like this, we’ll never do anything! Instead, we have to flip our thinking and find our motivation to go wherever our passions take us.

The most important thing: CONNECTION

Like the alien-babies meeting humans for the first time, it’s so good to finally talk with others who understand you without needing translation.

I love that the modern world brings together people of every interest – even an interest as ludicrously broad as “everything.” So let’s connect with one another!

There are many places for multipassionate people to connect. Of course, Puttylike is an obvious example. Or the Puttytribe – the social network spin-off from Puttylike.

Then there are the many blogs started by multipods – just google “multipassionate blog” and you’ll find many others who are on your wavelength.

Even better, if you’re lucky enough to live in a major city, you’re certainly not the only multipotentialite there. Are there meet ups near you? Could you start a meet up? If you build it, multipotentialites will come!

Still, being a multipod doesn’t HAVE to change anything.

Sometimes it’s tempting to overreact to a personal revelation. If you’re prone to extremes, remember you don’t have to cut all ties with your old life, quit your job, officially change your name to Jack de Tout Trades and become a multi-talented nomad.

Perhaps the right response for you is to simply nod and think “ah, that makes sense,” before carrying on as you were. Sometimes self-knowledge is its own reward.

Whatever you do, enjoy it.

Discovering a new facet of yourself is exciting. For a brief moment, everything spins apart before reassembling in a new way. Perhaps nothing will change; perhaps everything will. Whatever happens for you, I’d love to hear your story.

Your Turn

Please share your experience as a new multipotentialite in the comments. (And I’m sure there are many other tips for new multipotentialites I’ve forgotten, so please chime in with those too!)

neil_authorbioNeil Hughes is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a comical and useful guide to life with anxiety. Along with writing more books, he puts his time into standup comedy, computer programming, public speaking and other things from music to video games to languages. He struggles to answer the question “so, what do you do?” and is worried that the honest answer is probably “procrastinate.” He would like it if you found him at www.walkingoncustard.com and on Twitter as @enhughesiasm.

36 Comments

  1. steph says:

    Hi there puttypeeps!
    I”m new to your community, having just realised (at least, in an articulated manner, thanks to Emilie) I might be one of yours. This realisation came/comes at a pivoting time in my life, a moment when I have the opportunity to reinvent myself / fix me / fight my fears, or all at the same time… I’m not sure.
    But it is undeniable that this idea found me when I was ready to accept it. So here I am, driven (as always) by low self-esteem and anxiety, and trying to make my mind around this idea, asking myself what the hell is my personal overarching theme! Everything does seem to spin apart, and I know I will reassemble, eventually. But still don’t know how.
    And you know what? Sometimes, self-knowledge can be pretty scary.

    But, hey, that’s motivation too!

    PS: at that point you should go and read Neil’s blog and see how fear is, for some of us, our biggest motivator…

    • JJ Biener says:

      Steph, I am only a few weeks into understanding there are other people like me and that there is actually a word for it. What I’ve come to understand, from my own life and through interacting with others, is that there is no need for fear. As a multipod, I have learned that I will try every possible key to get through the door in front of me. If there is no key that fits I will make one. If there is no possible key, I will take the door apart piece by piece until I can get through. We are not limited by conventional means of solving problems. Whatever the problem is, we will solve it, so worrying is waste of time.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      How wonderful, Steph – you’re very welcome to the community and I’m glad you found it at the right time for you :)

      It’s unsurprising that the idea is tied in with self-esteem and anxiety – none of these things are unconnected. I’m sure you’ll reassemble everything in a way that makes more sense for you, and this deeper self-knowledge will help in whatever your next step is.

      Do keep sharing your story with us! And thanks for checking out my writing about fear too, I’m so happy it resonated :)

  2. Stefan says:

    Yeah, big discovery.

    The biggest problem I have now is focusing on only one or two things at one given time. I tend to overextend. Like learn Japanese, German, film photography, drums, physics, etc, today, or better yet, until noon.

    Stefan

    • Aimee says:

      I have the same problem! I feel like I want to do everything at the same time and then -of course- I never have time to finish any project and that gets to be really dissapoting

  3. Natalie says:

    I love this post! I am on a point where I have to make new decision and where I have just discovered that Im most likely a multipod. But then what.. how to deal with it? Im studying International communications, I love acting, health, food, the human body, yoga, film, anthropology, football, singing, nature, history, museums and many more. I have always switched sports and hobbies and side jobs, my whole life because first things were interesting, then I got bored and wanted something new! I think I should really put your decision making tip to practice very soon as I will soon graduate and have a world that lays open to me…..

    • Neil Hughes says:

      After graduation is a tricky time where these sorts of decisions have to be made – but it sounds like you’re getting to know yourself and what you want, which is the key part of making these choices.

      Sounds like an AMAZING list of interests too. Remember you don’t have to get everything right first time – just pick a direction that seems good and keep re-evaluating to see if you need to change direction as you go :)

      Good luck and do share your story with us all here as it develops!

  4. Thomas says:

    Sorry, i don’t write a good english. Below, find in french and next, a google traduction in english :)

    Bonjour,

    J’ai découvert ce concept de multi-potentialité et je m’y suis retrouvé immédiatement.
    Toute ma vie, j’ai connu de m’intéresser à des sujets à fond puis passer à d’autres. Et à la question “que fera-tu quand tu seras plus grand?” je n’avais jamais de réponse précises …

    Merci Emilie pour ta conférence que j’ai eu l’occasion de découvrir sur Youtube et ce jour là je me suis dit : je ne suis pas tout seul comme ça ..

    Je m’intéresse particulièrement : développement web, design au sens large, mécanique quantique, agriculture et à la transformation organisationnelle dans les entreprise pour attaque la transformation digitale.

    Des domaines aussi divers que variés..

    J’ai eu un parcours atypique : chauffeur poids lourd, maçon, développeur, chef de projet, designer ..

    Le résultat de la révélation de ta conférence, c’est que je vais lancer mon entreprise dans l’année à venir car je pense que l’alliance de mes multi-potentiel est un vrai atout comme apport aux entreprises en france.

    L’assurance d’être différent donne un sentiment de fierté …
    Il faut partager

    Merci

    GOOGLE TRAD
    Hello,

    I found the concept of multi-potentiality and I got immediately returned.
    All my life I have known to be interested in the topics thoroughly and then pass on to others. And to the question “what do you do when you grow up?” I had never precise answer …

    Emilie thank you for your conference I had the opportunity to discover on Youtube and that day I said to myself, I’m not all alone like that ..

    I am particularly interested: web development, design in the broadest sense, quantum mechanics, agriculture and organizational transformation in the company to attack the digital transformation.

    Areas as diverse and varied ..

    I had an unusual career: truck driver, builder, developer, project manager, designer ..

    The result of the revelation of your conference is that I’m going to start my business in the coming year because I think that the alliance of my multi-potential is a real asset as a contribution to businesses in France.

    The assurance of being different gives a sense of pride …
    Have to share

    Thank you

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Bonjour Thomas! Mon francais c’est plus mal que mon espanol, mais je voudrais dire bonjour et bienvenue :)

      Bonne chance avec votre enterprise nouveau!

  5. Jonathan Peer says:

    Dear Puddylikes,

    My wife drew my attention to Emilie’s TED talk. I had never heard about a multipotentialite personality type before. It is such a great relief to know that I actually haven’t wasted the past 40 years of my life! I had 5 majors in 4 years of college, joined the Army before I got drafted, was sent to an electronics school for 2 years, then worked for the Army’s branch of the NSA for two more years. Went back to school and got a degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science. I also have an associates degree in Biology. I had a top secret security clearance, was offered an opportunity for an internship with the CIA and I declined. Neither electronics, the NSA, the CIA, Biology, or Sociology interest me in the slightest any more. All of these could have been a career.

    My whole life is like this and I have thought something was wrong with me. It is such a relief to know that although I may be odd, at least I am not weird or alone.

    • michel says:

      Dear Jonathan,
      Be happy, I discovered that could classify myself as multipotentialist after 59 Years and Im happy

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Haha, “odd but not weird” would make a great slogan for Puttylike! You’re very welcome, Jonathan :)

  6. Jk says:

    Neil, I love your extraterrestrial analogy, that is exactly how I have always felt! I used to wonder if I was an alien on this planet observing the human species, who I look like, but do not feel I belong to. Always trying and failing to fit in. Fighting to make sense of the fact that our brains work so differently. It sure is lovely to have found some more of my own species at Puttylike!!!!!!

    My mantra has always been – do not let anyone tell you that you should be anyone other than who you are. It took me years to even recognise my overarching theme and now I have to convince other people that I am really not an alien!!

    Welcome Steph

    Jk

  7. Janice Serrano says:

    You’ve covered all the bases here pretty well.

    I fall under it not having to change anything at all (yet or so far).

    I’ve enjoyed discovering it and others who I am like though.

    For that, it was worth it and I’ve told others about it and will continue to do so.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Fantastic! I’m glad, Janice – I really wanted to get across that not everything has to change. Sometimes it feels like we multipods are a bit too keen to rip everything up and start again, and while that’s sometimes the right thing to do, sometimes it isn’t.

      I’m glad you’re happy in your discovery about yourself and I hope it informs whatever you choose to do next :)

  8. Inmaculad Ranera says:

    Hi! I am still shocked as I saw today Emilie’s TedTalk and I end up almost crying on the plane, which tends to be one of my preferred places to watch those inspiring talks.

    Suddenly I realised I that was not alone and that there is other people with whom I have something really in common. After years of feeling different I guess now I am ready to accept it and, surprisingly, this is arriving to me when other things are also changing or moving in my life (like deciding to apply for an exec programme at the Singularity University, where I am sure I will spend one of the most exciting times in my life).

    I want to take it easy and try not to over react. In any case, I guess it will still be difficult for me to explain it to non multipods (yes, I still think that maybe this is not real…).

    In any case, I feel really happy to even share my comments wih you.

  9. Liz says:

    Immaculad! I am STILL crying. I saw that TED talk about a year ago and all I could think was “It has taken me forty-one years. But now I FINALLY know.” I get bored, move on and excel. Then the cycle starts all over again. A part of me loves the newness, but the dissatisfaction is equally disappointing.

  10. Jen says:

    A little while back, my sister shared your TED talk, Emilie. I watched it and started reading about multi pods, and the more I read the more tears that flowed. It’s been a revelation to find there are others like me. That I’m not a failure, I don’t have a personality disorder and that I can still build a purposeful and joyous life. I’m so very glad to have discovered Emilie and Puttylike. I no longer feel so alone. And smile when I recognise multi pod behaviour in myself and others, now that I recognise it as an expression of creativity as well as a safe and exciting way to live. Can’t thank everyone enough for the encouragement and sense of acceptance I have found here.

  11. Sandra says:

    All my life I’ve coped with a monstrous appetite for new knowledge and the disappointment of other people not being so addicted to growth as me. There was a lot of arrogance at times… inside me, I mean.
    With maturity came the ability to include and see the beauty of each person’s own qualities and my own ground for personal growth.
    Today, my multipotentiality gives a sense of being able to cope with (almost?) everything. I firmly believe that I have what it takes to cope with change, difficult situations, losses, moving away to new countries, contexts, etc.
    For me, instead of being a fear terrain it is a reassuring one.

  12. Inmaculada Ranera says:

    Thank you Liz. It took my 50 years to realise I am part of this special community. I don’t have an outstanding IQ, but several times I was told that I have some special capabilities in diggesting diverse info and putti g together new ideas. I woke up today physically ill and I wonder if this is because of the shock! I think it will still take me some more days to accept it and see how it all evolves :-)

    (I wrote my name wrongly, it is Inmaculada, or Inma)

  13. Jose says:

    I’m not a “new” multipod by any means as I’ve been reading the Putty blog posts here now for a couple of years now. However, reading this post brought me back out of my daily frustrations with boredom and multiple interests. It’s great to know that we were born this way and that there are a lot of people like us out there. However, sometimes I feel like a bit of a failure for not sticking to that “one” thing.

    On the outside looking in, I was actually given some positive reinforcement recently from a friend who told me he actually looked up to me! He said that I wasn’t afraid to take risks and that I was always out there trying out new ideas. He told me that I inspired him! This gave me a little bit of positive inspiration but little does he know that living with this personality in my head has not been easy at all.

    Now, that I’m married and have a family it’s become even more challenging. If I were to tell my wife all of the ideas that have come across my mind she probably would have divorced me by now. That’s not to say she hasn’t been supportive. But, only up to a point. She’s actually given me a bit of balance. I would probably be a vagabond trolling the planet right now if I hadn’t met her. Not to say there’s anything wrong with vagabonds! :)

    Best wishes!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Haha, I’m sure any vagabonds reading would have smiled in recognition ;p

      It’s definitely a challenge to balance the consistency of daily life with the drive to search for new terrain. But it sounds like you’re achieving a good balance, as recognised by your friend :)

      Thanks for sharing Jose :)

  14. Shell says:

    Want to start out by saying thank you to Emilie, Neil, and all my fellow Multipotientialites out there. I do have the same story as many here, years and years of wondering what was “wrong” with me. Then I watched Emilie’s Ted Talk and joined the blog quickly afterwards. I as well, had some happy tears, knowing I am not alone. My jobs have honestly focused on two things, mainly… Taking care of others and the Service industry. Well, add a dab of animals too. Worked in a childcare center, was a waitress, worked in different departments at a grocery store, was a Home Health Aide for the elderly, worked in a Zoo store, worked in a department store, was A dog training instructor in a pet store as well as worked some other departments there, helped out at a Doggy daycare, and now am a house cleaner. I think I have discovered my complaints at any of the jobs in the past were really just a mask for starting to get bored. Yes, not a big fan of repetition. So here I am at 43 wondering what now? Interesting my friends and loved ones have given me so many ideas. I would be the “perfect” yoga instructor, dog walker and pet sitter, personal shopper, personal assistant, etc. etc. Ah, if I could do a different one every day of the week, that would be perfect. Ah well, it’s really nice to know I’m not alone. :)
    Namaste

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Love your story, Shell – as you say you’re FAR from alone, many of us are in very similar boats. Maybe you can work towards that balance of a routine full of change!

  15. Thanks for your comforting words, Neil.
    I only discovered out I’m a Multipotentialite late last year.
    WOW, is all I can say. First I cried, then I laughed, then I cried again. ALL those years feeling like a failure and telling myself, “If I could only stick with ONE thing and get really committed to it.”

    I have been successful in several areas, but when I wanted “out”, I took that as self sabotaging instead of seeing it as okay to move on and do something else I’ve always wanted to learn or try.

    I’ve been a Cashier, a Theatre Usherette, Sold Watkins Door-Door, A Bank Teller, Worked in Bakery, a Saleslady, a Store Manager, a Floral Designer, a Flower Shoppe Owner, an Interior Decorator, an Affiliate for several different MLM Companies, a Network Marketer, A Trainer in the Health Field, an Holistic Health Coach (20 years), an Internet Marketer, A Social Media Coach, and NOW, after 23 years I’m going back to one of my most favourite Careers, a Floral Designer.

    I’ve learned it is okay to have all this experience and to have learned all these new things. As a “survivor” of many things, when I learned that it is only when we learn NEW things that our brain develops new cells, new pathways, ……I realized in that instant, that my passion and drive for learning new things is what has saved my sanity and my life. Depression has haunted me all my life, but each time I went on a new venture, the depression lifted and I felt alive again…..ready to go another round, so to speak.

    What is soooo wonderful is that now, at 69, instead of even considering “Retirement”, I’m pursing something familiar but new again. This time I will do things differently….not concentrate on only the beautiful “Dazzling Dolly Hats” that I’m making, but to also space out my days and time so I can continue some of my Internet Business and Social Media involvement…….which I’ve discovered I absolutely LOVE because I get to meet so many new people and watch a ton of interesting Videos etc.

    Yes, I’m still getting my feet wet, it’s only been 3 weeks for the Hat Designing that I’ve undertaken, but I’ve already had some very positive things happen to confirm that I made the right decision.

    Thank YOU, and Emilie for bringing awareness to this whole field.
    Me sharing what I’m learning about myself and then Emilie’s Video is also helping some of my friends…

    Many future blessings to you all….keep up the good work,
    Dazzling Dolly Lutz

  16. Monica says:

    Another great article, Neill: thank you.

  17. Where I came from says:

    For me, it was very interesting idea because personally I came from a culture where specialists are pursued unconditionally. I always thought that I get interested in other stuffs, because I am impatient and lack of concentration (I just began 4th year at my first job. God, it felt like a decade!) However after watching Emilie’s video and Neil’s postings, I began to think I might be one of multipotentialites. (I like how word “multipotentialite” get red underlines because apparently it is not grammatically right) I still do not know whether I am a multipotentialite or just lazy girl, but I am keen to find out in next few days.. :)

    If I am not, then I can try to be one, right?!

    P.S. I have not read all the comments, but it is so good to know that there might be somebody like me in the world!!

  18. Jonathan says:

    I know most people are happy or at the very least relieved when they find out that they’re a scanner, but to me it’s made me feel nothing but sadness.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Sorry to hear that, Jonathan. It’s hard to respond without knowing what the cause of your sadness is – I can think of lots of possible reasons, but they’d all just be guessing.

      I hope you find a way to be happy with it, and if there’s anything we can do at Puttylike to help you figure out how then we will.

  19. Eric says:

    Hi Fellow Putty Multipods!
    I view over “How To Make Money as a Multipotentialite”
    I’m stuck in a low stress job in retail. But I’m dirt poor, living bill to bill, living with my parents. Get turned down for this job, that job cause I don’t have enough experience; or I’m not what they are looking for. I get a lot of society’s Bull Crap!
    I want to be in Model 1: The Group Hug Approach, however I’m stuck dragging, grinding along in Model 3: Einstein Approach. I’m moderately happy, however not yet financially independent.
    Artist, Dancer, Writer, Musician, Actor, Martial Artist, Cook, Yogi…
    Job: Part-Time Sales Associate 11.54/hour
    What’s a Renaissance man gotta do around here?
    Wish me Luck!

  20. Karen Krecklow says:

    I just figured out this is what I am. It was a little bit of a shock. It is a revelation for me.

  21. Adri says:

    Awesome website!

  22. Corey says:

    What a terrific TED talk that led me to this site; described me perfectly and I had to laugh and become part of a greater community of Scanners, Multipotentialites! How wonderful!

  23. John says:

    Just found this site and I can’t believe that not only there are others but there’s a name and everything. Wish I found this before…..has made me smile that I’m not alone getting lost trying to read and know and do so many things all at once and in my case at times being a little inefficient with what i should be doing.

    Hello all multipotentialites! I’m home ;-)

  24. Sabina says:

    Wow… Today I literally found out who I am :) I’m so happy I stumbled upon Emilie’s video on TED-ed page. It was like she was describing me. So, I’m one of you! And glad to hear my translator/biologist/dancer/photographer/artist mind is completely normal and not alone in this big big world :)

    Thanks for great articles guys, they are really ispiring and motivational.

    See you around, multipods :)

    Sabina