Explaining Multipotentialite Life Choices: Your Happy(!) Stories

Explaining Multipotentialite Life Choices: Your Happy(!) Stories

Written by Neil Hughes

Topics: Confidence

It took me years to discover that it’s possible to enjoy telling people what I do with my time.

For many years, I was borderline apologetic whenever somebody asked what I did. I worried that my job or interests might seem boring or confusing. It took time to realize that it was up to me to be excited about my own life.

Along with all the usual problems, multipotentialites often feel boxed in by any particular label, which can make explaining how we spend our time a source of dread as well as excitement.

When we talk about this subject on Puttylike, we usually discuss how challenging it is to explain our choices to other people. Today we’d like to do something a little different and share a few stories of things actually going well! Think of this post as a little shot of inspiration.

Introducing… You!

A few months ago, we asked you guys to share your positive memories of explaining your life choices to friends, relatives and strangers. (If you’re on the Puttylike email list, you might remember getting an email about this back in December.)

Here are some of our favourite responses:

I love this story from Tania, who explains that, for her, changing jobs is as easy as changing clothes:

“My daughter asked me why I don’t have a “normal” job. I asked her how much she liked playing dress up, and since I know that’s her favorite thing to do, I told her that I get to play dress up all day and even get paid for it. Instead of having a firefighter costume and a fairy dress, I have a video producer outfit, a coach dress, and a writer’s hat. And sometimes I even get to wear the fancy pant suit to play office. As she pondered my answer and, I guess, picture me “changing” during the day, she replied she was very happy I could do that because she believes a life without dress up must be a very boring life. I believe I just spotted a multipotentialite in the making!”

Slightly more mysteriously, Natahl explains their geologist-to-midwife transition like so:

“Being a geologist is like being Sherlock Holmes for rocks, and being a midwife is being Sherlock Holmes for babies.”

(I wonder if “Sherlock Holmes for ____” actually sounds cool no matter what you put in the blank – this might be a technique to borrow…)

Many people shared that they discovered the whole concept of multipotentiality while trying to tell a friend about their life so far. Take Sarah’s story:

“I told a friend about the tons of projects I was juggling, and he responded: ‘YOU’RE A MULTIPOD. ANOTHER MULTIPOD. WE CAN BE MULTIPODS TOGETHER!’ And then he showed me Puttylike and my life made sense.”

There were many stories of support and encouragement from family:

Nevin remembers his mother saying:

“As much as I want you to have a stable life and pursue a career with the degrees you earned, in the end I want you to be happy and do what brings you joy.”

And Nevin added: “Now that she’s passed on, I cherish those words and use them as my barometer on my multipotentialite adventures! Do what makes you happy and brings you joy!”

Elodie’s grandmother’s sister also was also supportive:

“That’s a relief. You were always so creative as a child. As an adult, you tried way too hard to match people’s expectations.”

While Annamária’s family were worrying over Christmas dinner that she will never be rich, she took another perspective by smiling and responding:

“I am really rich without money…”

And finally, a reminder that there’s always a place where you’ll be understood:

Hashba says:

“The time I am really feeling good about sharing my story of multipotentiality is now, right this moment sharing with you, because my friends never actually get me.”

Sometimes it matters how people react to us, and sometimes it doesn’t, but hopefully these stories are a reminder that – whatever we do with our time – we’re not alone.

Your Turn

How do you explain your life to others? Does it worry you, or excite you? What’s the best reaction you’ve ever received?

neil_2017_2Neil 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 walkingoncustard.com and on Twitter as @enhughesiasm.


  1. Beth says:

    I too used to feel really embarrassed and stuck for words when folks asked “what I do”. as you say Neil, ” It took time to realize that it was up to me to be excited about my own life.”

    And because I realised I am excited about my own life, and I love it, and all it’s chaotic-seeming twists and turns and all the different things I do and try out, now I just feel really proud when I answer that question. I just tell them I have fun running my business and doing al these different things…and mostly, people say “hey, that sounds cool!”

  2. Shelby Hohsfield says:

    I was just introduced to puttylike this evening. I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me to feel not alone! ‘Just pick one thing’ is something I have been told I can’t even tell you how many times by people I respect. I have never had just one job- ever- and people know me as the girl with the projects. As of tonight I will no longer feel wrong about this. It’s ok, even great to be the mutipotentialite me!

  3. Jeff Filo says:

    My reputation among my family and friends is “the guy with fifty hobbies” who can build or fix anything. My family won’t play trivia games with me unless they can team up 4:1 so they have decent chance of winning.

    As a multipod, by the time I reached 50+ there are just so many interests I’ve dabbled in. It makes for a great and varied life!

  4. I have always been the person who seemed to have had so many different careers and side line projects and telling people that I’m a Test Analylst, an Opera Singer, a photographer and an Embroidery Portrait artist seemed weird but I’ve embraced it as I legitimately earn my income from all of these income streams and I do them all to an incredibly professional level so I’m now proud and excited to say I’m all of the above.

  5. Tracy J Hayes says:

    I’ve been told to stick to one thing, too. I’ve narrowed things down, but only by trying something out first. I still have ‘way too many’ interests/projects to suit others, but I like it that way. Sticking to just one thing is like using only one finger out of ten!

  6. Andy Murphy says:

    One thing I have done to make my multipotentialite tendencies more palatable is to explain that I run a multidisciplinary firm. When I speak of running a business, it gives me more credibility. Instead of saying, “I teach music, English as a foreign language, translate websites, do copywriting (and so on)…” I say that I run a company that does those things. It is not important that I am the company’s sole employee (at least most of the time).

    • Maryske says:

      Quote: “I say that I run a company that does those things. It is not important that I am the company’s sole employee.”

      Now that line is multipod genius! :-D

    • Neil Hughes says:

      So many great ideas in this thread! As a sole employee of myself I might also have to borrow this one :D

  7. Nessa says:

    Well…it hasn’t been that easy for me! Every time that I talk about something that I do or I’d like to do, I’ve got “those faces” (I’m sure u know what I mean).It seems that people is annoyed. I feel like if I have to hide my knowledge and most of the things that I do! I’m a mum of 3, have 2 uni degrees (naval engineer and teacher), Uni Master (ITC), I run a little online business and work as a Commercial Manager (and thinking about quiting) and I have to hide many other aspects because… when I see other’s faces and actitude’s… I feel guilty.
    It’s a bit sad for me being Multipot.
    Happy to know u all guys!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I guess everyone has a different reaction, Nessa. But we get that you like to juggle so many things, and hopefully people in your life understand too, once they see what you’re doing :)

  8. Lorena says:

    Hey there, I know that not knowing what to say when it comes to the question. And I didn’t figure out yet what to say… but comes time comes an idea… one other (related) question for me is the question “Do you know how to do this or that” and it is just not accepted when you answer: “I will try and we will see but I am pretty sure I can do that pretty good”. Most people won’t let you try, as they want an expert. It is a little liek the unspoken “norm” that nothing can be easy, if you become expert in something you will go through a lot and suffer – as a believe in today’s society at least here in Austria. anybody else had these experiences? Beste and btw. new here and so f*** excited :D

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Makes sense to me, Lorena. It is tough… I guess sometimes people want someone with relevant experience, and that’s up to them. Usually we have to prove we have the ability to do something, and after that, we HAVE the experience, so it gets easier :) But yes, it can be a chicken-and-egg problem :)

      Welcome, by the way, we’re excited to have you here too!

  9. aselniczka says:

    Funny thing: I do have a full time job – been working in one place for 17 years now. I’m not super happy about it, but I do need to pay mortgage somehow, amirite.
    Whenever someone asks me about what I do in life, my answer is: I count trees professionally – which is supposed to be a funny way to tell people that I do tree inventories sometimes (I really do). But then I go and tell them about my “afterschool activities” which… vary. Because even within one activity, I cannot stick to one style. Take: jewellery. I started with cabochons made with my own graphics, I switched to beading (I make boobs. yes. really. beading boobs), now I’m figuring out plywood cutting. In the meantime, I’m trying to come back to playing samba (with lovely Lorena above!) which also has SO many aspects: not only one can play different instruments, but can engage in organizing events, trips, can travel all around Europe, can design posters, stickers and business cards, can learn about brazilian culture throuhout music, can learn portuguese (I actually learned that in my capoeira era years ago)…
    What I kinda struggle with, is the fact that I never “master” anything. I’m good enough, sometimes really good, but usually – I just learn enough to know how to do it. I’m not an expert at anything.
    But hey, at least I’m great at interesting conversations :D

    • Marta says:

      Hey :)
      You have exactly described my feelings for so many years! I have been feeling that many things comes easy and naturally to me, but i do lack the ability on focusing and proceeding with one specific discipline – and instead have an interest in everything.
      I have been feeling like a wasted talent continuously and could not understand how i can be good at ‘everything’ and ‘anything’ at the same time.
      This is the first time i have ever heard the term multipotentialite and my life starts making sense. I am on a journey of self-discovery :)

  10. I find that as I get more confident about my life, I get less questions and negative comments from other people. It’s definitely not that simple, as some people still find the way I move through life a bit unusual and will comment :) But as I grow to be more sure and less sheepish about my differences, I do notice that more people are supportive.

  11. Harsha Menon says:

    I feel so relaxed to know there are “Multipods” around the globe. I still struggle explaining folks that I m good film maker, a coach, great media professional & brilliant dancer. They still point out to me saying unless I don’t focus I won’t succeed. But now that I read about so many other stories I feel with time they will start accepting me for what I am.

  12. Libor The Curious says:

    Being an architect with a degree in economics, risk manager, developer, pilot, diver, skier, working in 5 languages etc. etc. clearly feeling like you all…yet I am just now solving another issue. Our son is 17, an excellent student, has C1 (equals to CAE) in English, soon the same from German, learning Russian and Latin. A month ago he started 1,5 year ahead to talk with universities about studying medicine and law at once, and you know what? No one is supportive (except the family). So these troubles go on, almost nothing changed compared to my times…such as the tree is, such is the fruit, I know but I would wish a bit easier start of the higher educational life for our son.

  13. Marta says:

    I have just found out what i am…and things get clear in my head. So happy about it!
    I was so lucky, that being unaware of my special skills- i picked up the right career path. Simplifying: i am a project manager and thus i work both with innovation& creativity and have to be logically structured with planning and organizing. Job allows me to juggle between different projects all the time and thus after one project comes another one, which can be totally different. Thus, i cannot be bored so easily and it allows me to choose and develop my own projects.
    Downside is being an ‘idea/ project schizofrenic) – i cannot stop the creative flow and new ideas, am literally addicted to my projects and gaining new skills and areas of expertise.
    You have just started by journey of self-discovery!!!

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