I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a running theme on Puttylike this month. It isn’t a theme we really planned; it just sort of emerged.
We’ve all been talking about how the economic, social and global developments of 2020 have led us to revisit our plans, dreams and trajectories.
Neil and Kristin both shared personal stories about their unexpected career pivots this year. And although I haven’t radically changed my work plans, I have found myself questioning nearly every aspect of my life and really thinking about what matters to me.
I also asked you guys whether you’ve been reviewing different parts of your life, either out of necessity or because your circumstances have changed. I was especially curious to hear about the impact this year has had on your multipotentiality and your many projects.
Reading through your thoughtful comments, I noticed a few commonalities. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I’ve pulled together six ways that the pandemic has impacted many of our lives as multipotentialites. I also included some great quotes from you guys.
1. More folks are realizing they’re a multipotentialite
There’s something interesting that can happen when an entire industry or job becomes unsafe and you can no longer be in the role you’ve been in for years. You might start to look at new fields and professional identities and wonder whether there are other things you could–and would actually love–to do. Maybe you’re not just “this one thing.”
This pandemic and the need to stay at home made me realize that I am a multipotentialite, because I began to review what I want to do with my life and make lists and then I was in the middle of this flood of things I want to do and learn. […] Before, I was always feeling guilty about my desire to learn about various aspects of life. I felt like I was lost in some way, and it was exactly when I found out that there were other people like me that I really felt at ease with myself. – Ráyra
It’s solidified something I’ve known about myself for at least 30 years, and has finally given me the push to go all-out for the life I want to lead. That, in turn, has given me an idea for two books and three business projects! I’m just getting started, but I’m determined to make it all work. – Richard
2. Some multipotentialites are finding that doing multiple things is more socially acceptable right now
Some of you felt that in the current bleak economic situation, it’s become more socially acceptable to find work wherever you can. The result is that there are fewer raised eyebrows when you start teaching one of your passions online, pursue a seemingly random creative project or start a side hustle. It’s like the pandemic has removed some of the stigma around having multiple revenue streams.
I had been thinking in the past few days that this pandemic has somehow created a world where multipotentiality is welcomed. I can see soooo many people starting up side hustles. It is the ‘in thing’ now. As multipods, we are already extremely good at hustling. And now, finally everyone is realizing the value of having more than one passion. Although, the uncertainty of the pandemic still haunts me, […] this change in the social mindset is giving me hopes for a better future for us multipods. – Gayatri
Even though I identified as a multipotentialite, I had allowed the “what will people think if I try to do different things” thinking to overrule my true desires. It took a pandemic, I’m sorry to say, to realize what was important in my professional life. – Karen
I ran this theory that the pandemic has made it more socially acceptable to do multiple things past some multipotentialites at our Focus Party last week, and not everybody agreed. I think it probably depends on your social circles and communities, and it might also depend on your generation. But even if this hasn’t been a universal experience, it is something that at least some multipods are noticing. And anytime society becomes more open about folks doing multiple things, well, that’s a good thing for us.
3. Some multipotentialites are stuck in a holding pattern
Not everyone is eager to jump to the next new thing. For multipotentialites who have been preparing to make a big change, and who can no longer make that change, this year has been pretty devastating.
Pre-pandemic, I was pondering a major career pivot. The problem for me is that the things that I want to do, and even some of my options to make money if my first-choice options don’t pan out immediately, have been affected by the pandemic. So I’m in a holding pattern that is forcing me to reevaluate my future plans. What will the post-pandemic normal look like in terms of career choices, and how do I fit into that? – Jon
I’d been planning to make a career pivot and had spent months making a portfolio website and learning more about my next field. I’d just started to apply for jobs when quarantine hit. It totally derailed my job hunt process…one interview I had the week of the shutdown went well and then they shelved the position! – Sarah
Being stuck in a holding pattern is brutal. And it’s especially hard for multipotentialites, who love moving forward and initiating things.
4. Some multipotentialites are in survival mode–and that’s okay
These are really challenging times. Some of us simply aren’t able to pause, reflect and explore, whether it’s due to having a house full of kids, lost income, and/or mental and emotional stress.
Having to do things that are not my interests but are inevitable such as child care and homeschooling is affecting the balance previously created. […] Juggling multiple things is not the problem but juggling multiple things that you would rather not be doing is pretty challenging. – Aderinsola
I’ve had to shift my plans because I had to reckon with my current survival state and how that has really stinted some of my more intuitive strengths, like creativity, and organization – those things become so much harder in what feels like constant survival mode. – Allie
5. Some multipotentialites are rethinking what matters, being more intentional about how they spend their time and taking projects more seriously
So many of you wrote about how your priorities and daily activities have shifted for the better during this pandemic.
This has been a once-in-my-lifetime moment to exist & dream & do for me – solo quarantine is sometimes terrifying but crazy empowering! Lots of time for reflection & re-calibration, for unlearning & learning, for fear & hope. Since my office went remote (for the first time ever!) it’s been a fascinating journey of trying different routines & methods to explore my passions & self-care practices. – Domi
“A few months ago, before the pandemic actually got out of control, I was busy creating little skits with a couple friends over discord. One of whom was from Romania and another from Indonesia. As someone who is on the spectrum, and usually stays in anyways, I spend a lot of time on the computer, either playing games, listening to music, watching YouTube, the list goes on. But creating these skits with these people has actually grown into a passion I never thought I had: Writing! I’ve been hard at work creating more of these scenes for myself and helping my buds come up with their own, and this set one big goal in my mind. That goal, is taking what we actually wrote down as skits, and put them on the big screen as an anime and on paper as a manga.” – Andrew
I had awful low energy April, May, June. I was on track to do a bunch of things, but they all fell by the wayside. I sewed many masks for nursing homes and rehabs. We had severe PPE shortage in Massachusetts. But that’s all I did, many days just did the bare minimum to feed the family. But in July I buckled down and set some personal goals that I am working towards every day. I organized everything I want to do into 57 goals with deadlines. Every day I work on learning German and Machine Learning (right now just Python) and organizing old photos. Strategy is three pronged. 1. Set intention every day for what I will do, and review at the end of the day. 2. Limit social media. 3. Do one thing at a time. I guess there is a fourth one and that is do the important things. – Chris
(As a side note, if you aren’t working on 57 goals, please don’t beat yourself up about it. 🙂 )
6. Some multipotentialites have realized that what they thought they wanted wasn’t so great (or became not so great after it went online) and decided to make a change
A number of you wrote about how the pandemic cast new light on your career and made you see that, even though your work checked the right boxes or looked good on paper, it wasn’t making you happy.
A while back I accepted a job out of (perceived) lack of different options, a new house purchase, and a promise of a nice team. It ticked the boxes in terms of a great team to work with, financial gains and lack of commute. However, the work itself has more often than not been mind-numbing and with no clear results from my input. I’ve been feeling like I’ve worked a whole lot with close to nothing to show for it. Slowly, I started looking at other options. Once the pandemic and working from home started, I had an almost panicky realisation of how badly I am losing my valuable time, days flying away and evenings daydreaming about spending all those hours differently, no clear answer as to how exactly, but for sure not like this. I’m now in the process of exploring this further, and as much as I feel there’s no concrete plan, my whole body screams that I for sure can not leave it as is. Thanks to the pandemic (?) I might actually take some riskier steps and free myself from the trapped feeling I created around my current situation. – Olga
The pandemic turned everything on its head for me. I keep thinking about how it’s exposed the reality underlying our lives this whole time–the fragility of our jobs, the rampant inequality, etc.–the things we’ve been ignoring, basically, and that goes for our personal lives too. Unsurprisingly, my job working from home became *unbearable*–I was sobbing like every week, lol–so I decided to sit down and reevaluate. -Anonymous
I don’t like the reason for it, but I needed a break too. My work environment was pretty toxic, and I was spending about 14 hours a day, 6 days a week away from home. Now I truly appreciate my family, home, land, and area where I live. I bike in the am, hike at lunch, do archery after work, and spin poi at night. I paddleboard on Sunday mornings. I make salads for lunch, not reheated food. My coworkers are my husband and cats. My friends can come visit me instead of me constantly travelling. I don’t miss most of the outside world one bit. That said, many career paths I had considered: personal training, acupuncture, etc. are now off the table. I just want to stay working from home or work with plants close enough that I can walk or bike from my house! – Amethyst
Most folks in this situation aren’t sure what’s next. But just realizing that the “old way” wasn’t working, seems to have been hugely beneficial. That said, there were also multipods who went from realizing an old career wasn’t working to uncovering new talents and pursuing new projects.
I work in the festival industry as a festival director with a particular focus on engaging children and families, so this year has been very very different and difficult. Our festival moved online so I suddenly found myself producing videos of kids activities and sheets about how to have an at-home festival experience. But I didn’t like it, and it’s led to me thinking a lot about a change, of course. I have two children, 4 and 7, and have been at home with them, every single day, since mid March and it’s exhausting! But I have found some opportunities and “gaps in the market” when looking for things for us to do as a family, and things that would help.
Picture books, for example, that don’t have lots of people socialising and going out, or books that are incredibly hopeful and soothing. So I’ve written one! Never done that before! And I’ve got another one in my head especially for Christmas (a 2020 Christmas which we all expect to look quite different to previous years). So I don’t know if writing is my new path, or if it’s just a detour for now while the main road is shut, but I’m enjoying it, and I am hopeful. – Amy
There’s no “right way” to be a multipotentialite during a pandemic
We’re multipotentialites, and it isn’t surprising that we’re having different experiences right now. Some of us are positively loving lockdown and using it to explore ALL THE THINGS. Others are feeling crushed by the premature end of a project or are just feeling totally overwhelmed.
Remember that wherever you’re at, it’s okay. There’s no right way to be a multipotentialite. And there’s certainly no right way to get through a global pandemic.
Can you relate to any of these experiences? How has the pandemic affected you as a multipotentialite? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
An enormous thanks to all of you who shared your stories and experiences with us!!!