What’s Your Multipotentialite Origin Story?
Photo courtesy of Lance Neilson.

What’s Your Multipotentialite Origin Story?

Written by Neil Hughes

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

SCENE: OUTDOORS

A shadowy figure is unloading barrels from a truck. We see the words, “WARNING: WEIRD CHEMICALS” emblazoned on each barrel as it is placed into a deep hole. Finally, the shadowy figure fills the hole and drives away.

The camera pans underground to reveal a leak in one barrel of WEIRD CHEMICALS. We follow the chemical leak through the soil, into the river, into the city, and into the hospital where a newborn baby is being fed.

The WEIRD CHEMICAL-infused water is administered to the baby, who pulls a puzzled face, before taking on a look of pure and passionate determination.

A MULTIPOTENTIALITE has been born.

Meanwhile, in the Real World…

I’m pretty confident that multipotentialites aren’t created by weird chemicals (unless you count DNA, which is totally weird but which is also basically cheating as an answer in this context).

Still, I don’t actually know what makes a multipod a multipod. We’ve discussed on Puttylike many times “what makes a multipotentialite,” in the sense of “do I qualify?”*

But we’ve hardly discussed what created the multipod in us in the first place.

*Short answer: You probably do qualify. If you have a wide range of interests, and you think you might be a multipod, you probably are one. We’re not an elitist bunch.

Spoiler: I Won’t Have a Definitive Answer to This Question

Just as with most questions about human development, there’s not going to be a satisfying conclusion here. Lots of clever people have studied many aspects of humanity for years without finding a resolution to the nature/nurture debate. And, as far as I’m aware, multipotentiality has hardly been studied at all.

Even if there were some vast archive of multipod experimentation, it would be full of conflicting conclusions and considerable confusion.* Identifying causes of human personality traits is hard.

* Sorry for the alliteration; I couldn’t stop myself.

As far as I can tell, the smart money is usually on any given trait being a result of a combination of genes and environment, and I’m sure multipotentiality is no different.

(Though feel free to stick with the fun belief that multipotentiality is totally a mutant superpower caused by WEIRD CHEMICALS, for your own amusement.)

But even if it’s impossible to be certain about exact causes, we can still learn from sharing our origin stories.

What Were You Like as a Child?

No, wait. Let me guess.

You were curious. You tried out lots of different activities. Perhaps you read a lot or moved from passion to passion easily. Perhaps each of your passions was discarded relatively quickly. Perhaps you left a trail of half-begun hobbies in your wake.

Okay, I’m kind of cheating. I’m just describing stereotypical children in general. Though this does sound like what you’d expect from a multipod. Are we all born multipods? Maybe some of us just resist being forced to specialize more than others do?

That would be tough to prove. And, of course, we’re all different. I expect some of us didn’t conform to this stereotype and grew into multipotentiality later in life.

(This is a pure guess based on the fact that humans are waaaaay complex and that, every time you think you’ve nailed down a pattern, you meet someone who doesn’t fit it. Which keeps the world pleasingly interesting.)

Were the seeds of your multipotentiality already present in your childhood? I bet that, for a large majority of multipods, they were, but I’d love to hear your story.

Forget When… WHERE Did Multipotentiality Come From?

Whether you can see shades of multipotentiality in your life history right back to your birth, or whether you only developed these traits recently, can you tell what caused it?

This is another tough question. Asking what attracted my childhood self to new thing after new thing is like asking what attracts me to the ground when I fall over. Without knowledge of gravity, the only possible answer is “that’s just the way it is (or was).

But maybe we can guess at the causes. My parents were always trying to get me interested in something new. (Looking back, they did a spectacular job of finding activities to keep me occupied. As a just-about-millennial, I have no idea how they did that without having recourse to the internet. Amazing.)

Did novelty just become a habit, so I naturally kept searching for new interests? Or were my parents responding to an innate drive of curiosity that was built into my brain from the beginning?

If there was a childhood incident that sparked my multipotentiality, I can’t think what it was. For me, it either grew from habit or it was simply innately present.

Why Does This Matter?

Well, partly it’s interesting for its own sake. That’s an argument that should need little justification in a multipotentialite community, right?

Plus self-knowledge is always useful. Many times I’ve recognized patterns in my life only after recognizing when/where they started. (Recently I read a diary entry by my teenage self complaining in much the same way that I complain as an adult. Seems this pattern is deeper ingrained than I thought!)

Maybe this knowledge is just something to be grateful for; it’s pleasant to reflect on a lifetime of exploration.

Maybe the investigation leads us back to an old interest we abandoned and would like to explore once more.

Or maybe it reveals a pattern we want to change. Perhaps we’ve always moved on a little too soon and we’d like to start sticking to passions just a bit longer.

Each of our lives are so different, I couldn’t possibly tell you what lessons to take from your story. But we might be able to learn our own lessons from the stories of others, so please share your origin story in the comments. I’m excited to hear how different/similar we all are.

Your Turn

Can you recognize your multipotentiality in your childhood? How do you think it came about? 

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.

38 Comments

  1. Kaci says:

    I grew up with the exact opposite experience: my parents didn’t encourage any of my interests. I wanted to be in gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, piano lessons, learn foreign languages, art classes…I wasn’t allowed to do anything they didn’t teach at school. As a result I had zero idea what I wanted to after I graduated, I hadn’t been able to explore anything. I changed majors in college five times, graduated with a degree in English and a double minor in writing and biology, and ultimately ended up a stay at home mom. My job attempts include editing for a Polish newspaper (no, I didn’t speak Polish), writing articles, coaching cheerleading (no, I was never a cheerleader), coaching gymnastics (no, I was never a gymnast other than on the playground), and now I’m using my high school art classes to pursue painting. I always thought if I had been able to explore my interests as a child maybe I would have been able to specialize as an adult, but who knows? My life motto is pretty much “learn or die,” because if I’m not learning I’m bored to death!

    • AnnaLaura says:

      My parents did the same to me! My mother thought I had to be focused on school because I would have time to learn other things after that.
      Now I am 24, I have a bachelor degree in architecture and I dunno what I really wanna do in my life. I’m truly scared of doing just one thing for the rest of my life, I would like to learn lots of other subjects such sa philosophy, language, art etc etc, but I know I’m not able to learn as easily as when I was a child.
      Thanks for sharing your own story, I truly find myself in this! I totally understand the meaning of “learn or die”! You gave me hope and a breath of oxygen! I hope to be able to reap the benefits of your word!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Thanks for sharing, Kaci – that sounds so frustrating, but I’m glad you’ve been able to explore your passions as an adult. It’s fascinating reading everybody’s story here and how different they all are, yet how we all share that drive for learning :) Love your motto!

  2. AMW says:

    I was always encouraged as a child to try new things and I witnessed my parents trying new things. Now that I look back, I think my dad was a multipotentialite stuck in a specialist tract. He hated his job but in his own time I watched him engage in a wide variety of activities everything from electronics to cobbling shoes! I never felt like there was a problem until I got into my twenties when I discovered I didn’t like my chosen career path. I started changing jobs, doing wildly different things and the adults in my life started questioning me. As an adult I also found a much bigger world with more interesting things. I found that for me, being self employed was more of an ideal situation because I could control what I was doing and taking on more than one type of endeavor at a time. People were still questioning me but somehow being independent legitimized things for them. Now I look back at all the interests and jobs that I had as a kid and a young adult and I can see the foreshadowing….all the pieces started coming together. I look at it as an embryonic multipod!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      This sounds very like my story! Again, like Kaci above, so unique yet so similar. Thanks AMW :)

  3. Vince says:

    I’m guessing it had something to do with a lot of discomfort with athletic pursuits. I remember having great reluctance towards anything that went too fast or required some degree of balance. Was vertigo mixed into it? I’m not sure. But it meant chopping out big hunks of what many would call “life.” Or finding indirect ways to participate; the roller coaster might not interest me, but the theme park’s design strategies would (did the “Top Gun” coaster really have anything more to it than that Loggins song? how much did they creators try to sell it as fighter-jet experience?).

    I think the TV series, “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” also pried open the lid to Polymath’s Box. There are 4 or 5 presenters in the world who can narrate with such skill that anything really can become interesting. Jack Palance was one of them.

    I still feel that my unease towards a lot of activities was a handicap–but really, what could’ve been done? Beyond that sense of regret, though, is the thought that a smaller number of things to focus on will expand, as needed. Nature abhors a vacuum–perhaps more things were looked at closely, in order to fill up the holes?

    • Neil Hughes says:

      This is a very interesting story, Vince. I hadn’t considered multipotentiality as a move away from something negative, but I can absolutely see how that could be the case. Again, very different stories ending in a similar passion for many things :)

  4. Jorgen Skyt says:

    Things that characterized my early childhood until 2. grade was

    1) My parents were both school teachers and very interested in all kind of knowledge about history, art, literature, science and so on.
    2) They were divorced as I was 3 years old and until my second grade, my mother with whom we children stayed, moved four times.
    3) Both my parents – especially my mum – had a humongous library of all kind of books, we were free to use at any time.

    I believe that the divorce and the many locations and situations difficult to understand for a little boy may have triggered my lifelong obsession with attempts to find and comprehend meaningful connections between all things I met on the path in my life.
    As soon as I could read i started running through the comprehensive encyclopedia in the library, jumping form article to article in the search of the complete connection. I found it was impossible – it just opened up new questions and presented an endlessly connection between uncountable numbers of interesting articles.
    My mother was always eager to help answering weird questions. Either by explaining or by experimenting or by illustration how to search the local library for answers, encouraging us to seek deeper into all matters. Or she just pointed out a book on a shelf circling around the matters of Russian language, human sexuality or classical poems.

    In school i was average, but in the later grades (7th-9th) I experienced high respect for “out of the box” work including lesson long talks over details in the function of Nuclear Power plants and a two lesson comprehensive talk over the inner structures and life of microbial organisms in a drop of water.

    Unfortunately I didn’t manage well in High School neither (well, here in Denmark it’s called “Gymnasium” and is a three year preparation for university studies.). I had this diabolic obsession luring inside, craving an explanation: “Why is it essential for me to learn THIS?”. If the teachers were not able to answer this, I regarded the lessons “non-reasonable”.

    I excelled in computer programming, starting a computer business, NATO approved for level “Secret” stamped in my forehead – and ending up as programmer and system manager at the central Danish news medium (like AP in the US or TASS in Russia), but still without any “proper” education (tried art school, architecture and computer science … it just didn’t ad up). I was almost 40 years old, CEO in a local branch of Danish Inventors Association, had written articles on innovation, virtual reality and energy related ecology, produced a short movie on the life of an inventor, established family and businesses and had a good house and job when I realized I had been lured onto the wrong path!

    I quit my job, divorced, sold the house, bought a tiny VW-autocamper and went West (or more like “all over the place”!).

    These days (16 years later) I have a tiny, cheap house, a tiny, cheap car, no job for the moment – but I’LL BE BACK!:-) Because in these 16 years I have developed into a designer, welder, craftsman in metal, plastics and wood, writer, blogger, rocket scientist, backyard chicken expert, automobile service man, product designer&developer, sign making professional, school teacher, CNC-programmer & CNC-operator, inspirational Wizard for CEO’s in deep crises and historical reenactment adviser in middle age siege technology and all other kinds of interesting stuff my own, small pathetic excuse for a country, seems to have no need of!

    Being a multipotential multipolite multipot (or .. actually, I’m just me!) I believe I have a LOT to learn from all of you out there in the same situation!

    And Thanks!
    Jorgen Skyt
    Denmark

    • Neil Hughes says:

      What an incredible story Jorgen! Thanks for sharing. And having visited Denmark I didn’t think it was pathetic, I loved it :p But I hope they start making use of that wide variety of skills you’ve put together!

  5. Sara says:

    It feels to deeply engrained to be learned, for me. I come from a very long line of multipots that I’m a lot like, but I never really knew any of them except my dad. Sure, I watched him jump from project to project and he usually taught me how to do what ever he was working on (it can change spark plugs, hang dry wall, and build furniture!), but my sister was raised the same way and is not a multipot.

    I did keep a huge chunk of his interests (mostly the ones using power tools), but he’s not art minded at all. Art consumes me, I just can decide on a specific route of it to focus on. Later in life, I learned there’s a string of women on his side of the family that were art minded multipots too so I just assumed it was bred in to me!

  6. Ciska says:

    For me, being interested in many things has always been a way of life since early childhood. I had a wonderful grandmother who (I suspect) was also a multipod and with her I used to sit and paint or do wood carving, cooking, reading and so much more. She always encouraged my more artistic side and I could try out whatever new hobby I wanted. My mother also helped with that and I think more to keep us busy every holiday, she would get us into a new art hobby every holiday (so that we won’t get bored). One year then would be glasspainting, the next year decoupage, and so on and so on.

    I did many things at school as well. When it came to outdoors activities, it was swimming, tennis, cycling, ice skating, roller skating, gymnastic and modern dancing, piano and guitar. Some have stuck, but with others I got bored pretty quickly.

    I never had just one single thing I wanted to become and I still don’t. My studies probably also shows my inability to choose. I first started out with Communications, then jumped to Psychology (which I at least finished), then it was Garden Design, Photography and finally Reflexology (which I also finished). I enjoy every one of the things I’ve done and can’t really see my life without any of them, but it has been difficult as well. Not everybody understands and I went through a lot of self-blame and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Why don’t I have a niche like other people? Well, until I realized I am a multipotentialite and started embracing that rather than trying to shy away from it.

    For now, I’m actually between three jobs of which one is my blog which I enjoy immensely. Not sure where it will lead yet, but at least I’m having fun with it.

    Have fun!
    Ciska

  7. Ben says:

    LEGO’s… I believe my multipotential tendencies started by playing around with LEGO’s as a child. LEGO’s made me think about what i a building, and allowed me to be creative. It allowed me to go MY directing with my thoughts and intentions. My mind wanted to do make so many things and i could play in a fantasy land with them. I think LEGO’s started the snowball effect on my deep interests in “things”. As i got older i started tinkering with other objects. That tinkering mind set opened my mind to how to think and get out as much information as possible with new interests that come into my life. I would like to thanks LEGO’s for making me the gardener, photographer, designer, coffee roaster, artist and carpenter that i am today.

    Thank you,
    Ben
    Wisconsin

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I love this! I loved Lego as a child, but it never seemed to have such a deep effect on me as this. Thinking about it, I got into computer programming early which has a similar capacity for freedom and creativity – perhaps that was my Lego! Thanks for the thought provoking story :)

  8. Keith Kehrer says:

    I always wanted to be a musician and composer from age 4 on, but I also wanted to be a scientist and a baseball player and a hockey player and an actor. So when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was a long list. The sports went away, but music, science and acting are still here.

    KK

  9. Rossella says:

    One thing i remember from my childhood is my mum telling me that I would “never finish things” and that she wouldn’t like to enrol me in the next activity that I would abandon soon enough. Next, I tried to stick around longer and “get things finished”. To the point where it became an obsession. I just could not admit any more if I had made a wrong (or better said limiting) choice and basically did not allow myself to experiment any more. The structure of higher education and university also contributed to me kind of fixing myself to fit in a specialised learning process.
    After graduation I was at the beginning of a promising career and realised… this wasn’t me! I got in a terrible crisis and possibly a burn out and anyway a lot of confusion across my professional and my private life. I basically picked up experimenting back again just where I had left it, in grammar school.
    It was radical and extremely liberating.
    It’s hard to tell where nature and nurture crossed each other exactly but it definitely feels like multipotentiality is a strong attractor to me, all my life long, and there is no way to avoid it without much pain and denial. If you are a multipod, in my experience you don’t just get pushed out of uur. I also know people who seem sincerely and deeply happy with a specialised worklife and retrieve I don’t believe that we are all born multipotentialites.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I agree with this – separating nature and nurture is almost impossible (and would it be that useful if we could do it? I’m not sure) but that strong attraction is there. I’m glad you found your way back to experimenting… I think many of us feel guilt for “not finishing” but we really don’t have to.

  10. Sara Richter says:

    I remember asking a similar question to this thought when I first discovered multipotentialism. Mostly because my husband and I were trying to get pregnant (which has turned into me now at 8 months pregnant) and a huge part of me does not want our kid to be specialized. I mean to the point comparable to those who don’t want a kid having a disease or certain physical attribute. And what I mean is not being good at one thing. Like a non-multipod.

    It’s definitely both–nurture and nature. I also wonder if it’s the nurture of our “childlike” nature in its natural state for adults. So for some it looks like a multipod hasn’t grown up wherein reality it is just an expansion of the curiosity and openness society allows for only children to express. Which is sad-because I could NOT picture myself being only good at one thing. I tried it. I get bored.

    I know for me personally as I got older, I always wanted to make sure I was “well-rounded.” I mental knew this prepared me for college and so I thought if I just work on being wel rounded I would get into whatever college I want to. And so I did everything. And liked it. What I think happened is this just never stopped (naturally or by my environmental nurturing I am not sure) so I am now the person I am because being well rounded never ended.

    On a side note–I noticed its this constant seeking of knowledge that describes a lot of multipods. For me, just knowing one thing is never enough for me. I have to “know all the things” and spend good amount of time learning them so I actually know them and not just heard them somewhere.

  11. Know Crow says:

    I will say from the start it can be confirmed that it is taught out of the majority how to question everything.

    My parents never really guided me to anything. I found my own way. In doing so I questioned everything and constantly do to this very day. Looking around at my peers and wondering why all there focus was raising there hand to speak and found it fundamentally wrong, later in life where calling you supervisor rather than discover it on your own… not a big step up and a true sign that it defiantly IS taught out of us.

    I spent the last two years of high school in my school considering eating a bullet. It was only my Dad noticing I was coming home earlier and earlier told me to go get my GED. Lo and behold was only 4 credits away and got both my diploma and GED.

    I yearn for the days where “What do you want to be when you grow up” Was still encouraged as 100 years ago with apprentice programs.

    College, following socieities script, made supervisor, had a heart-attack.

    Now a spiritualist and shadow-worker inviting others to face there shadows and actually contributing to society.

    So in conclusion. Take on one or a few degrees when there’s the entire circle. Problem with viewing yourself as the youth, you forget that its the natural way to be… to discover everything, question everything. through the child’s eyes you shall know the world.

  12. Liz says:

    In reading the responses, I found so many astonishing coincidences. My family moved around quite a bit when I was a kid. As a result, I made friends easily. I was quick to adapt and even quicker to let go. Moving along just became a natural part of life for me.
    But I was always curious. Be it countless hours at the library, animal cards that came in the mail (like Zoo books) or just reading the entire encyclopedia, I was ALWAYS curious. Not sure if it’s nature OR nurture, but I do know that I am happiest when I have “more input,” to quote Johnny 5 from SHORT CIRCUIT.
    I craft, sew, write, (used to) teach, work in HR (now,) cook, bake, rewrite ads, design marketing campaigns and consult new businesses.
    I still worry that I should specialize, but I am too curious for just one thing. I too was a stay-at-home mom, then I just HAD to go out and do something else. I look forward to being an empty nester — that’s when I will really put my wings to good use!

  13. Lorraine says:

    My brother was systemmatic and finished all his projects – expertly. He was calm and was clear about what he liked and didn’t like.

    I, on the other hand, couldn’t stick with just one thing – whatever caught my eye was where I went – learned it – did it well and moved on.

    I loved school because of the variety of topics especially high school where the subjects included physics, chemistry, english literature and writing, history, sports, algebra and calculus, geometry – I was in heaven! Then, I had to choose how to make a living. I didn’t have a clue so I went with what I was told to do – there weren’t many great options.

    Since then, I’ve been in the arts, law, mining, electronics, health, accounting, self-development, small business development, and a host of other industries – tough to find a “job” and I think I know why. So like others on this site, the best way to go is self-employment where I can be challenged and put all my knowledge to good use one way or another. And self-employment offers many areas to explore and learn to do well. I love to teach and self-employment offers me a great scope in this area because I can teach all that I have learned and all that I will learn – perfect! I can teach live or online – and there’s always something new developing in technology. The world of technology opens so many doors for people like us because we can get “lost in the world” just exploring on the internet.

    Nature or nurture? I think it’s nature and the opportunities to explore or an education that allows a breadth of topics to learn. Even today, as adults, my brother’s world is much different than mine. He can “settle in” where I can’t stop trying to figure things out.

    I can identify with people like Marie Currie and Einstein and Edison who tried this and that and kept making mistakes and discoveries throughout their lives.

    My ultimate hero is da Vinci – what a scope of knowledge and inventions. I couldn’t tear myself away from the exhibition – it felt good as if I had found a member of my “tribe”. He was born that way, I’m sure and, because of when he was born, the doors were open to fully develop his curiosity and talents.

  14. Chuck Allen says:

    I would have never considered myself a multipotentalite until discovering Emilie through her Ted talk recently.

    I knew from a very young age that my “gift” was in the visual arts. Talk about an overarching theme, that can encompass quite a bit. My family was good in recognizing that interest, but hedged it with practicality: “You’ve got to be able to make money with it.” As early as I remember, I would make my childish drawings and try to sell them to family members.

    I remember taking these personality tests in high school that were designed to help students find direction so they didn’t end up wasting their parents money in college. I always thought those were stupid because a) My parents would never be able to send me to college, and b) I was so sure I would do something with visual arts, why didn’t everyone have their thing? In every art class I took, all the students would gather at my desk at the end of class to see what I had come up with.

    Subscribing to my fathers practicality (well, societies expectations, really) I went to community college for graphic design thinking that would be a good way to leverage my talent for income. I did pretty well but wondered if anyone would really hire me for something so easy. I didn’t get a job right away so I joined the US Marines after September 11th learning there were photographer, graphic designer, and videographer jobs! I figured that would be a great way to jumpstart a career, gain some valuable life experience, and get money for university, while fulfilling my patriotic duty.

    The military did all those things for me. It was also where I started to realize I got very restless being in one place or doing one thing for too long. Yes, I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I would never get ahead darting around in life. After leaving the military, I embarked on a successful career with the federal government in a video production capacity. By the time I left government service, I was producing videos that I was quite proud of. Yet there was still a dynamic that caused me to be restless.

    Almost 3 years ago, I abandoned what most people would consider a successful career to move to Canada near my mom and her side of the family. I had bigger personal reasons for making the move, but it satisfied my multipotentialite nature in an odd way. I wasn’t able to get a job in the video production industry right away, so I started in construction with absolutely no experience… And I LOVED IT! I loved being outside working with my hands. I loved the exhaustion at the end of the day. I loved being able to see the productivity of the crew. I loved the off-color humor and camaraderie of the guys.

    Over the course of the previous few years I had been getting a bachelors degree in business management through online classes. Since I was a little older and had an education, I was quickly promoted to office manager where I applied my education and multipotentialite superpowers to learn to run the books and help manage a construction company.

    I’m restless again. I’ve been doing a lot of pottery and have made a little money at it. I’ve randomly gotten into leather working (making leather messenger bags and backpacks) and have picked up a few odd photo and video jobs. I’m not worried about getting full time work for the most part, but curious about the future as a big career change is on the horizon again.

  15. Jeanette says:

    I don’t know where my multipod self originated, although it would be interesting to discover a common thread or strain of DNA… perhaps we share common personality traits, or IQs, or a socialization process… What I DO know is, I have an absolutely incredible memory from a very early age (yes, I remember being in my walker). Having been born into a military family, later left to navigate a host of moves due to a divorce, AND coupled with being a latchkey child; I cultivated a hyper vigilant quality. Back then it served as a safety mechanism (I think), then blossomed into a quality deemed “multitalented” by teachers/professors which further reinforced the message, “you can do and be anything you want.” At my very best, I’m an empath, able to solve complex issues involving multiple stakeholders and at my worst, hyper vigilant about possibilities created in my head, leaving me anxious about which to choose and do something about. The good news is, I like my diversity. I also like my ability to choose.

  16. Aby says:

    Entonces no sabía que así no eran todos los niños, o mejor dicho creía que yo era medio rara. Siempre fui curiosa y observadora. Hacía miles de cosas intelectuales y manuales: inventar crucigramas, construir cosas, tocar violín, escribir poemas, devorar libros. Prefería ver un programa tipo TeleEscuelaTécnica o ArtAttack que ir a jugar a corretearse. Mis padres me estimulaban, mi padre médico poeta, mi madre habilidosa con todo, sin ejercer una profesión. Mi gran problema fueron las profesiones, había que encontrar un nicho, tenía talento para muchas cosas! Sin estar muy convencida hice tres años de Sistemas, no me convencía, me recibí de maestra, no ejercí. Me casé con alguien de Sistemas, hace 20 años que trabajo de eso, siempre desesperada por buscar otras cosas simultáneas que me llenen, pinto, canto, toco la guitarra, tuve un negocio, ahora estudio Psicología, tejo, soy mamá. Soy feliz, lo único con lo que tengo que lidiar es la sensación de que para el mundo laboral de hoy tengo algún problema, cuando se estudia una profesión es para vivir de eso! qué necesidad de emprender otra carrera! lo demás deben ser sólo hobbies! Encontré el equilibrio conservando siempre mi trabajo de programadora medio día, y el resto del día sigo mis pasiones.
    Otra cosa, en mis estudios de psicología he encontrado muchas pistas que me llevan a pensar que la multipotencialidad es un rasgo, muy ligado a características cerebrales, que comparten características con la Alta Sensibilidad (HSP, Hight Sensitive Persons, en inglés). ¿Para alguien esto le significa algo? Me encantaría que lo comenten. Besos a todos!
    Aby, de Argentina

    • Ceidi says:

      Any,

      Si, si, y si! Yo recoji la universidad otra vez el verano pasado(2015), a los 57 años joven, para acabar mi título de psicología y me encuentro estudiando sociología. Hase cuatro años que descubre que soy un Sanner/Multipotentiate y el año pasado que soy un HSP emocional más que física.

      Yo también estado consedirando cuantos del PuttyTribe son un tipo o otro de HSP. De niña pase mucho por faltarme el entiendimeñto de las ramificaciones de lo que significa tener tremenda empatía… Porque me sentía “mejor” sola que arredor otras personas, aunque me encante presentar, actuar, ser el centro de atención….

      Tuve la desgracia de tener una abuela por parte padre que nunca tuvo bien del cerebro desde el parto de mi papa – nació en Cuba en 1915, con muy poco intervención médica, a mi abuela que tenía menos de cinco pies de altura y mi abuelo de sies pies cuatro pulgadas, un bebé de 13 libras y medio! Todos estaban de acuerdo que abuela nunca fue igual.

      Yo entré ah este mundo una niña muy preco; la epetiomia de una esponjita. Lo quería aprender todo! Lo que me llamaba la atención, le metía mano con tremendo gusto hasta que me cansabas, y entonces lo soltaba… Mi mama se canso de preguntarme porque yo no acababa lo que empecé? Para mí yo SÍ acababa – hasta cuando después de veinticinco años ya no puedes más y acabe con mi matrimonio también…

      Desde niña fue empresarial y lo continúe ser durante los años que crié mi familia de dos hijas y un hijo. Mi aventura de ser madre empezó con el deseo de tener un parto “la maz” natural con la primera ha dar a luce de la segunda y tercero en la casa con comadrona… Lo que tuve que pasar con mi esposo y toda la familia par lograr eso fue teremdo! Y si vez como relacionaron qua do le dije que los iba enseñar los estudios en la casa también, me llamaron loca pubilicamente!

      El recuento es largo, los cuentos individuares so muchos – ha sido una vida larga con bastantes año adelante, pero hay tantos intereses que no sé si van a ser suficiente…. El español fue mi primer idioma aunque nací en la Florida. Aby, me alegro poder practicar escribirte en espanole y me encantará seguir la conversación contigo. Eres miembra del PuttyTribe¿ Yo me voy apuntar el día 24 de Julio cuando vuelvan abrir lad puertas…

      Hasta la próxima…

      Ceidi

      • Neil Hughes says:

        Ah, me gusta esta historia mucho! Me rei a “57 anos joven” – espero que yo tenga esa actitud cuando tengo 57 anos. Y “la epetiomia de una esponjita” – perfecto. Muchas gracias por tu cuento.
        (y lo siento por mi espanol – necesito mas practico!)

        • Ceidi says:

          Neil,

          Cuanto gusto me dio ver su repuesta! Yo espero que todo nosotros Multipotentialites nos vamos a mantener jóvenes a pesar del número asociado con nuestras/nuestros edad Y seguimos siendo perpetuas esponjitas!

          Nunca te disculpe por un valiente intento de comunicarse con nosotros en español. ¡Sé que hablo para mayoría cuando digo que siempre es un placer cuando hace hasta el esfuerzo más pequeño, y su esfuerzo no es pequeño – hizo muy bien!

          I am very much looking forward to July 19th when the Tibe doors reopen – I was a member long ago, in a galexy far far away – to this Prodical Multipotentialite! I’ve grown up so much and learned even more :o).

          Hasta La Proxima Neil,
          Ceidi (say-thee)

      • Aby says:

        Ceidi, qué lindo leerte! Me ancantaría estar en contacto contigo. Nunca lo intenté en la PuttyTribe porque no podría mantener una conversación en inglés. De hecho los post de este sitio los leo con ayuda de un traductor online. Me ayudas? Mi mail es ldragone196792@gmail.com. Beso grande! Aby

        • Ceidi says:

          Aby,

          Cuanto me alegre ver su repuesta! Mi Hija, te ayudara los que pueda, pero darte de cuenta que es con esfuerzo que te escribo en Español :o)… Se me hace mas fácil con practica y espero tu ayuda (y posiblemente con ayuda de Neil también)!

          Muchisimas gracias por confiarme con tu email, voy a mandar un mensaje cuanto acabe aquí :o).

          Hasta Pronto,
          Ceidi

  17. JJ Biener says:

    This is easy. I’ve always be interested in everything. Even before I could read, I asked questions about everything trying to understand. After I could read, my mother took me to the library and I would check out a stack of books each about a different subject. When I had to do research for school, I would go to our encyclopedias. I would find the subject I wanted. After I read it, I would keep reading subsequent articles because they were all interesting. I did the same thing with the dictionary. I would look up one word and end up learning ten. I have an overwhelming desire to understand, and often understanding only comes after learning lots of things in many areas. Then I could see the connections.

  18. I never thought of myself as a multipotentialite until I saw Emilie’s TED Talk. I knew that I didn’t “belong”. In my generation, I will be 69 this year, women were supposed to be teachers, secretaries, nurses, hairdressers, etc. I was curious because I wanted to be something “different”. I wanted to be a doctor. I ended up becoming a medical librarian. I became the “arm charm”. I could speak on many subjects, but I was still a “woman”.

    Going to an an girls’ school helped. Girls were the leaders. They went into the sciences. They were the heads of student government. Have you noticed that the female leaders went to girls’ schools? As a friend of mine once told me, who was a teacher, “I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up”.

    I explored different avenues, and I was told that a woman didn’t do that, only men did that. I think that many of us were searching. We wanted to do things that were unconventional.

  19. Kate says:

    As a child I was always left alone at home, almost all the time. There were practically no kids of my age around and we had no Internet or computer so i had to figure out ways to amuse myself. Those were diferent things and with some time trying different things around me became a sort of habit.

  20. Neil Hughes says:

    So many great stories here, it’s been fascinating reading them all and seeing the common threads – and the differences. Thank you all for sharing!

  21. Surya says:

    I was a hyper active kid in my childhood. My energy levels are so high that I couldn’t stay at a place ideal. My parents realized my hyper active nature and observed a pattern that I was stable and observed deeply in any work I was involved in. This made them realize my innate activity addiction. They made me learn different languages like Sanskrit, French; play different sports like cricket, Football, Volley Ball and badminton; Learn Taekwondo, and Yoga. May be all the kids around me were the same as hyper active as I am and had the multipotentialite characteristics in them too which helped me improve my energy levels much deeper and stronger. This is hyper active nature is still making me excite to learn and try new things but due to the responsibilities as an adult I am unable to embrace my natural instincts.

  22. Mila G says:

    As a child growing up in a strict religious household there was a lot that I did not get to participate in, particularly extra-curricular activities. For the most part I challenged myself with reading as much as possible, although I also sought out different ways to be involved during school hours (my parents would not allow any after-school activities unless they were church-related). The main effect of this strictness today is a feeling of frustration with very regulated forms of teaching and learning, as I prefer to learn and explore at my own pace, and ask questions as I see fit.

    Reading opened my mind to so many different areas of knowledge and perspectives (my 7th-grade science teacher gave me an entire encyclopedia set for which I am eternally grateful for). I discovered a burgeoning interest in anything related to space, linguistics, earth-related sciences, history and the occult. I was part of Reading Clubs throughout my elementary school years and also volunteered at the school library during lunch after a failed stint at knitting club. I learned to read and write in Portuguese on my own, and improved my grammar with the help of my Grandma who was a schoolteacher back in Brazil – but I had no interest in taking classes. Listening to music in different languages has improved my ability to pick up Spanish and French, and I love exploring the roots of music and how different sounds, rhythms and melodies from various cultures influence each other. My music interest has also helped me look for interconnectedness in other areas of knowledge, which served me well in university and influences how I think, perceive and interact with the world around me.

    Despite my extreme shyness, I nurtured my deep passion for music and dance by learning to play piano by ear, performing in a couple plays in Grade 5, joining the school choir and the city choir in Grade 7, band, belly-dancing and salsa dancing in high school, and playing samba in university. Although my mom did enroll me in private piano classes I would always lose interest due to the strict nature of the lessons. Going into high school (and subsequently being old enough to work) definitely made it easier for me to explore my passions, and at that point I was also independent enough to participate in the things I was interested in without parental approval.

    I went to a university that was very inter-disciplinary in its approach, and so I was able to take a slew of electives in a variety of different subjects to supplement my psychology degree. I fed my desire for less academic forms of learning and knowledge-sharing by participating in and facilitating diy workshops, conferences and roundtables. Being a more independent adult in university allowed me to re-visit old passions – I tried knitting again (without much success), took up journalling + collage-making, and went back to salsa class. It was in university that I became more in touch with my spirituality, particularly astrology, and in the past year I have begun working with tarot as a journaling tool, and exploring my family’s roots as practitioners of Candomble (an Afro-Brazilian religion/form of spirituality).

    In my work experiences I’ve dabbled in workshop facilitation, planning, implementing and evaluating training programs (which I love doing), bookkeeping (which I thought I would like but changed my mind – too routine), event planning, research, volunteer management, preparing contract bids, and most recently launched an online resource portal for the sales reps of the company I worked for. That experience helped me realize that I have another passion – web development + multimedia design! I had done a bit of html coding in my teen years (I had a website on the now-defunct piczo and a wordpress blog) and I catch on pretty quickly when using new software. At my most recent gig I quickly became the go-to person to do everything from making form fields on adobe to working with app developers on the company’s seating customization app. As grateful as I am for that learning experience, I discovered very quickly that being a corporate worker rat is not for me!

    Now I’m in a bit of a quandary – do I go to school to gain a formal education on web development or do I attempt to use Udemy or CodeAcademy to teach myself? Unfortunately the city I currently live in does not have a big coding community and since this is a new-ish area for me I might benefit from a more structured learning environment where I have colleagues and instructors to use as resources if I’m stuck. Now that I’ve graduated and need to join the working world, I am quickly realizing that I need to have the autonomy to decide what I want to devote to my energy on, and it’s also very important that I do not feel stifled or trapped in any way. I need challenge, the satisfaction of knowing that I have learned something new and that I can apply it (or not) in my life however I want!

  23. Mark says:

    My origin story is nothing unusual compared to others’ here, so I’ll skip to attempting to tackle the question “WHERE Did Multipotentiality Come From?”

    I suspect there is truth to the “Gaia hypothesis” that the earth is a self-regulating system. Being a part of that system, humans would be influenced in one way or another to help regulate that system.

    Of course it is plain to see for most that human beings seem to have gone dangerously rogue as of late, and I think a contributing factor of what made that possible is the division of labor that gave birth to The Specialist.

    While specialization made civilization building possible, it also made possible the abuses of (our) power and all that brings. Because most specialists simply did not have a wide set of skills, knowledge, and networks, they were unable to connect seemingly unrelated people, events and phenomena and how they were coming together to put the earth and mankind at risk.

    So perhaps the reemergence of multipotentiality is the earth’s self-regulating system attempting to balance itself. The more diverse a person’s interests and abilities, the more able they might be at detecting a complex problem and being able to come up with a creative solution for it.

    That’s a tough question to answer in a few short sentences let alone a series of books, but it makes sense to me.

    Then again I am a multipotentialite. ;)

  24. Margaux says:

    Interesting take, Neil. Very interesting to read the other responses.

    For me, curiosity was key, plus having a lot of aptitudes made everything easy to take up. Nothing seemed too difficult to learn or get moderately good at or better than average. (Except for swimming. I suck at swimming.)

    Was my multipotentialism like other kids’? I don’t think so. I could and did span more activities than anyone else I knew. My best friend, who is also a multipod, was a dancer from age 3 to about 23 and a Dean’s List student in every subject from Grade 7 to university, widely read, and a puzzle freak. But she sucks at every sport except long-distance running. She also has no idea how a computer works or even cares beyond being able to do the few things she needs to do with a computer.

    Interacting with a lot of other people at that age — and even seeing kids of my friends now — I don’t believe that every kid’s multi-activeness is really multipotentialism. It’s necessary exploring to see what they like and don’t like, what they can and can’t succeed at. But most kids figure out pretty quickly after trying something whether they are ever going to do that again. Once most kids quit something, they quit it for good, convinced that, since they’ll never be good at it, there’s no point continuing to try.

    Multipotential exploring is different — or, at least mine is. It’s based on genuine curiosity of the thing or activity itself, rather than simply testing to see if I’m good enough at it to continue pursuing it. I’m not interested in outcomes, but in answering questions, discovering how something works or why it does. What’s the best way to do something and what makes it the best way? Once I learn these things, I lose interest and move on to something else. Usually, while learning, I get pretty good at a skill, but my pursuit isn’t really the skill itself.

    I fear this doesn’t make sense or get to quite the point I’m trying to make. But from where I was as a kid, I could totally see that my interest in everything was in no way similar to how other kids tried things — or didn’t try them, usually.

    Perhaps this isn’t true for all Multipods. Perhaps others here will contradict this and say they wanted to excel and perfect whatever/everything they pursued. Surely everyone has a different story.

    ~

    As for “WHERE Did Multipotentiality Come From?” I found out that I got it genetically after my father, a mechanical engineer his entire life, retired. Can’t say my parents nurtured all my various interests — they downright opposed my becoming a competitive gymnast and joining the intramural volleyball team (but my mother’s not sporty, so she never got my competitive streak), plus tried to discourage me from becoming a pro photographer.

    I’m an only child and left to my own amusement quite a bit when young. I was also given a lot of freedom to go off and explore. Partly, as an only child, I never had to compete with anyone to have my one “thing” that made me unique in the family.

    I think it’s the curiosity and questioning and wondering about everything that makes us different from other kids and adults.

  25. Susan says:

    I recall being at a Uni tutorial years ago and we were talking about the writings of women who self-identified as ‘women of colour’ and also talking about the term itself and somewhere one of these women (whose name slips my mind but whose words held incredible power and beauty) had used the descriptive term ‘multiple, fluid, and dynamic’ to describe these women and their written work. The description struck me immediately, it resonated so deeply with how I had always dreamed that life could be. I had always felt myself to be multiple things or a multiple thing and could not equate that sense of self with the majority or norm of what I saw around me – ie focused career driven people and I had always feared that was the way ‘it had to be’; the way ‘I had to be’. So anyway at that moment at Uni I decided I would aspire to be ‘multiple, fluid, dynamic’ in whatever, wherever, however I was. And with this as my aspiration, what has always mattered to me is how I am being in whatever I am doing – the doing and the being is this multiple, fluid and dynamic thing and if it’s not then it’s not for me. My life thus can be anything it wants to be, anything I choose it to be and as long as it has multiple, fluid and dynamic elements – and I am feeling them – then it is an absolutely brilliant and satisfying life. When I first heard the term multi-potentiate I experienced the same resonance.

  26. Nati says:

    I broke my toys to observe and understand the mechanism that made them move. I was born in Latin American, in a country with chauvinistic traditions and if I asked for a more interesting toy than the Barbie toy, they looked at me weird. But my extreme curiosity did not go out for anything and I managed to do many different things: production, music, advertising, invented a food brand, administration, travel, new and alternative psychology, extreme sports or not, and if I have to repair something at home I will find out and do it. But for the other hand, there is a frustation feeling cause sometimes you wanna do one thing and be in the security of that activity brings you, but luckly, is sometimes. All those diverse activities bring moments and persons that I like to keep o learn from, because I always think if I reach old age I will have many stories to tell that will make me a happy older and will keep doing things. Meanwhile I will go where my curiosity goes. Cheers everyone!