12 Myths About Multipotentialites and Affirmations to Overcome Them

12 Myths About Multipotentialites and Affirmations to Overcome Them

Written by Claire Nyles Suer

Topics: Confidence

Most of us multipotentialites grew up hearing lies.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. Maybe no one was intentionally lying to us. But long before any of us heard the word “multipotentialite,” we heard a lot of myths about work, worth, and identity.

Here’s a myth you’ve probably heard:

Everyone has one “true calling,” which (much like their one “true love”) must be found, and then pursued with an unending determination, no matter the obstacles or the changes in that person’s life.

When written out this way, a myth like this is pretty clearly untrue. This one is assuming that everyone is a specialist, and pre-destined for just one speciality. These kind of myths are such exaggerations that they might even sound a bit silly. But it’s amazing how much these (often unspoken) fictions actually affect our lives, by showing up in others’ expectations of us and even our expectations of ourselves.

For example: I’m totally in love with my multipotentialite identity. I love getting to be someone who (currently) designs graphics, edits articles, presents at conferences, runs a youth program, and bakes muffins on a day-to-day basis. And I call it all “work”!

But still, when I find time amidst all of that to tackle the novel I’m writing, I sometimes have this thought creep in:

“Maybe I’m really just supposed to be a fiction writer. If I had the ability, I think I’d just write for my workmaybe that’s what I’m really meant to do.”

See how that myth creeps in and tries to convince me to be less complex than I am? Just because I love writing my noveland perhaps because I would like to spend more time on itmy brain takes a big jump and assumes that I somehow “should” give up all my other interests in order to be a “real” novelist.

It’s sometimes hard to recognize these myths when they show up in others’ feedback or in our own minds. They just sound like truths about the world, because they’re so ingrained in our specialist-focused culture.

So I thought: What if, on Puttylike, we described these myths in all their silly detail? If we have them written down somewhere, then they might be easier to notice when they pop up in our lives, and we could decide for ourselves if maybe we need another narrative.

In fact, I thought, Why not go further? When I find myself up against old, tired adages and word-of-mouth myths, it helps me to re-focus myself on something true. So I decided to not just write out the myths, but to follow each one with a rebuttalan affirmation for multipotentialites.

Now, I don’t claim that these affirmations are universal truths! But they are new narratives that have helped me reframe things, basing myself in a multipotential-filled reality. Maybe you’ll find them useful, or be able to tweak a few words to make them feel true for you.

Here’s the list I came up with….

Myth #1

If you have a third, or seventh, or fortieth skill or field that you’re drawn to, it means you’re unfocused, afraid of commitment, flighty, or flawed.

Affirmation: Being drawn to many skills and fields is awesome! Your curiosity and passion is something to be celebrated, and you can focus when you choose to.

Myth #2

If doing a particular thing isn’t how you make your living, or if it isn’t bringing in any money, it isn’t worthwhile or an important part of your identity.

Affirmation: Side jobs, hobbies, and side passions are all great. You decide, amongst all of your work and pastimes, which are important parts of your identity.

Myth #3

If you’re talented at something and decide not to pursue it full-on, professionally, or intensely, you’re “wasting” your talent.

Affirmation: Talent is wonderful, but it’s entirely up to you to decide what to do with it. You don’t owe any particular thing your attention, time, or energy, just because you’re good at it.

Myth #4

If you decide to pursue something totally different than the work, hobbies, or interests that you’ve pursued before, it’s probably “not you” or the best thing for you.

Affirmation: Only you can know for sure what pursuits are the best for you, or will suit you as a unique and dynamic human being. Only you can know when you’re ready for something entirely different!

Myth #5

If you switch careers after 5, 10, or 30 years, you’re wasting progress you made, and making a foolish mistake.

Affirmation: People change their career courses all the time, with great success, even after investing decades of time into a particular path. If you’ve been on a specific path for a while, you’ve surely learned a lot and will take that learning with you as you head in a new direction. 

Myth #6

If you work multiple jobs or stitch together various work each month, when you “could” have a “steady” full-time job with benefits, you’re foolish and wasting your time.

Affirmation: You can find a work configuration that feels good for you, and helps you reach your goals. Your best configuration might be several jobs, or taking it one day at a time when it comes to paying the bills.

Myth #7

If you live a nomadic lifestyle (whether you’re a digital nomad, woofer, or otherwise), you need to stop and settle down at some point (usually sooner, not later).

Affirmation: Nomadic folks build a happy, healthy, fulfilled lives. There’s no need to stay in one place just to please someone else or meet their expectations.

Myth #8

If you’re depressed, anxious, have other mental illnesses, or are chronically ill—it’s probably related to stress because you won’t just settle on one career path.

Affirmation: Depression, anxiety, mental illness and chronic illness affect specialists and multipotentialites alike. They aren’t caused by not choosing a single career path, or by everyday stressors. Multipotentialites living with mental illness or chronic illness can and do flourish!

Myth #9

Living as a multipotentialite is for the wealthy and privileged. If you’re poor or marginalized in our society, living out many passions and interests is just too much to ask for—you need to settle, instead.

Affirmation: Anyone can be a multipotentialite, and there’s no single way to live as one. The challenges faced by marginalized folks are formidable—but those challenges don’t negate who you are. You can make meaningful choices to incorporate your many passions into your life.

Myth #10

The only way to stay productive on your projects and goals is to work on them for at least eight hours straight, five days a week.

Affirmation: There are so many ways to continually create and get work done, no matter what your schedule is or how little time you have to work on a project.

Myth #11

The best way to make money is to pick something you’re interested in and then become an expert in it—the more specific the expert knowledge, the more you can charge for it.

Affirmation: Multipotentialites and “generalists” make great amounts of money with our diverse skill sets and our particular superpowers. We are crucial members on any team, in any field.

Myth #12

The world is structured as a series of silos: systems that work independently and don’t really interact that much, so you really only need to understand one to make improvements to it.

Affirmation: We’ve learned that even when we individually feel like we exist in a single silo, all of our systems are really weaving together in deeply complicated ways. People who understand those interactions are uniquely equipped to help others understand them, and improve them.

Thinking outside the myth

I hope reading these helped bring you some clarity, and that having this list will help you deal with these myths in the future.

Maybe one of these affirmations is something you need to hear frequently, and you want to make some version of it into a mantra. Maybe you’ll decide to write a specific affirmation somewhere you’ll see it frequently—your workspace, your refrigerator door, or on your bathroom mirror. Or maybe there’s one myth you hear frequently from someone in your life, and with some fresh reflection you’ll be able to have a productive conversation with that person about it.

I don’t know that we’ll ever escape these myths. But if we can shine a light on them when they’re stealthily slinking into our decision-making processes… we can take a moment to reframe the questions for ourselves. I know there are so many exciting, complex truths that we only get to discover if we’re willing to question some of the things we’ve been taught to accept at face value.

I’m off to go work on my novel! I’m feeling deep inside my heart that yes, I am truly called to be a fiction writer… but also to be a multipotentialite, mythbuster, and a bunch of other exciting things.

Your Turn

What other myths of the specialist world did I miss? How do you handle other people telling you these myths, or when you discover you’ve made assumptions based on them?

Claire NylesClaire Nyles Suer (she/they) is an editor, writer, designer, and community builder. They are the Director of the LGBTQ Community Center in their city, and are working on their first novel (which includes disgruntled millennials and pirates). They also like hiking, facilitating workshops, organizing systems, designing logos, and playing the ukulele. They’re all about empowering people by helping them communicate and connect – to ideas and to other folks.

26 Comments

  1. Jean-Luc Trépanier says:

    Your list will be able to help some of my Facebook friends. Do you mind if I post it with some little changes?

    Cheers,
    jl3trepanier

  2. Linda Ursin says:

    I couldn’t think of anyone you missed right now :) I’ve heard most of them all my life. It’s important to shine a light on these so I’m sharing this

  3. Temitayo says:

    Amazing post! You just lifted my spirit.. I’m a content writer, graphic designer, social media manager, and I’m about going for my phD. I love being a Jack of all trades. Infact the actual saying is “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

  4. Harald S. says:

    There is this saying of burning your candle at both ends. But woe to you, oh multipod with so many passions that you even burn your candle at three ends – or, Heaven forbid, at four, five, six, seven, …!

    The myth here would be that noone has enough energy for pursuing more than one passion at a time without being burnt and consumed like the proverbial candle which is burning at both ends.

  5. Anna says:

    Thank you for this. It’s useful to keep them at hand. The way I work on this is; all of these myths are thoughts, not facts. When my brain goes there I notice, sometimes I say ‘thinking’ then I get back to one of my many curiosities! Multipod love to all x

    • Claire Nyles Suer says:

      Yes Anna! Love the mindful just “noticing” of these thoughts– then getting back to your passions! I try to do that, too. :)

  6. Nina says:

    I’m so glad I read this! I was just reading some specialist-mentality posts highlighting the importance of being an expert, so I immediately concluded I shouldn’t even try to do something for money if I didn’t spend some time “mastering” it. Of course, I forgot the part of my identity that is about having thirst for knowledge and being resourceful about the learning of skills when and how much I need to in a given situation.

    The above is not the only thing that reassured me to be just as I am. Even my family and significant other, the only people I truly have in my own life, believe some things among these myths, or at least have said me something related to them more than once.

    • Claire Nyles Suer says:

      Nina I’m so glad it was helpful! I hope thinking about these myths continues to help you express who you are to your loved ones <3

  7. Aileen Leadbetter says:

    When I read the sentence: “I sometimes have this thought creep in: “Maybe I’m really just supposed to be a fiction writer. If I had the ability, I think I’d just write for my work—maybe that’s what I’m really meant to do.” It totally clicked with me!

    If I could tell you the number of times I’ve thought this about different interests or things I’ve discovered, only to realize that I wouldn’t be happy doing that or anything else so focused everyday for the rest of my life.

    Thanks for posting the myths! I’m definitely bookmarking this! For the longest time I thought something was wrong with me until I came across the term “multipotentialite”. It’s great to read articles by other multipotentialites!

    • Claire Nyles Suer says:

      Aw thank you so much, Aileen! I literally think all the time about how I should go live in a little hut by the sea and write novel after novel after novel… I also know myself and know that after appoximately 1.5 days that way, I’d be moving back out of that hut, hahaha.

      Rock on, fellow multipod! :)

  8. Ernest Gordon says:

    Amongst the list of myths mutipod, the one that immediately stood out to me was the myth regarding one’s inability to become an multipotentialite because of their lack of funds and resources. I find that this insidious mantra has a tendency to creep into my psyche whenever I become frustrated about my progress on my multiple projects. When this faulty thinking i find myself, becoming a victim of circumstance, by blaming my day job, location, or lack of time to pursue certain projects.

    • Claire Nyles Suer says:

      Ernest I feel this too! I have a number of interests that feel severely limited by the time and money I have to commit to them. But if I remind myself that there are little things I can do to still explore that interest, it helps me feel still engaged with the interest, and more motivated to earn more money or make more time for it :) Good luck!!

  9. Daniel Segun says:

    Nice post, i was worried before. I have differnet passions and equally adept at all..thanks for the encouragement

  10. Jose says:

    Love this article! Very uplifting and packed with great affirmations and myth busters! I definitely have these creep up on me all the time. Especially, since I’m a husband and father of two boys. It’s been challenging having just a “good enough” job when you still have to pay the bills and be a contributor in the family. Another way I found to overcome these negative whispers in my head is to simply tell myself, “I’ll deal with YOU later”. This usually stops those negative whispers right in their track.

    Keep in “mind”, that you will have to keep reminding yourself of this awesome power that we have at our disposal. Those negative whispers always like to find their way back in.

  11. Maria says:

    Emilie thank you so much for all the wonderful things you’ve written!
    Actually, putting all the affirmations together makes a great multipotentialite manifesto!(Which I will post above desk)
    My love to all of us!

    • Emilie says:

      You’re welcome, but it’s Claire you should be thanking for this one! :)

      • Maria says:

        Claire thank you so much!!! (my comment is above)
        In typical ADD fashion I got so enthusiastic by your post that I rushed to post a comment without noticing it was yours (and not Emilie’s)
        My apologies,
        Maria

  12. Terri says:

    Here’s’ another myth that I’ve heard: “You’re overthinking it.” I’ve heard that when I don’t think according to the speaker’s method. I heard it recently when I was told that “it’s not going to work” at a job. I was there less than 30 hours. No discussion. No suggestions. No working it out. BaBoom!

    • Claire Nyles Suer says:

      Ooph, I hate “You’re overthinking it”! I’m sorry to hear that happened Terri… hope you find a better fit soon :)

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