Multipotentialites vs The Climate Crisis
Photo courtesy of Gareth Morris via Extinction Rebellion.

Multipotentialites vs The Climate Crisis

Written by Emilie

Topics: Life, Mental Health

Hey multipotentialites,

Don’t know about you all, but I think about climate change a lot. Sometimes I lie awake at night, trying to imagine the black box of the future that’s coming. Over the past decade, multipotentiality has been a really useful lens for me to look at the world, and understand how to be authentically me as I move through life.

I wonder what you think about this reader question, which made its way to me recently:

“I don’t know about all my fellow multipotentialites, but after seeing the articles about climate changes/earth ceasing in x number of years, it makes me wonder which one of my careers/interests to really focus on. I’ve always been one who didn’t want to waste time. Thoughts?”

Oh dear, how I feel this.

I am, sadly, not going to offer any solutions to climate change anxiety right now. I don’t even have a handle on how I feel. But I am curious whether the climate crisis has impacted your relationship to your many passions and projects? Do you feel a greater urgency to pursue certain things over others? Have your priorities shifted at all?

Has the threat made you want to try ALL THE THINGS while you still can? Feeling the urge to get involved in organizing or activist work? Do you to want to hurry up and “make a name for yourself” in one area, perhaps resulting in added stress if specialization isn’t your natural inclination? Or are you thinking about what aptitudes and relationships might be most practical in the radically different world that’s coming?

I think for me, climate change has made me want to listen to myself more. It’s made me want to pursue the projects (plural) that feel truly meaningful and that could impact people’s lives, even if they aren’t necessarily the most profitable or obvious ones. At the same time, I long for stability and I also want to do my part. For me, that means really investing in small-scale community-building on the island where I live. It means knowing my neighbours.

To be honest, the future terrifies me. But I’m so grateful for all the people all over the world organizing for change in big and small ways. And you, my fellow multipotentialites, have many many powerful things to share. I can’t wait to hear all your thoughts.

Your Turn

How have you been feeling about your multipotentiality in the context of a more urgent and uncertain future? Has the climate crisis changed the way you pursue your interests? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

**

And if YOU have a question about your multipotentialite career/business/life that you’d like answered by a bunch of really smart, kind multipods, come join us in the Puttytribe this week:

We’ve also got a Puttython coming up in October that you don’t wanna miss!!

Emilie Wapnick is the founder and creative director at Puttylike and The Puttytribe, where she helps multipotentialites build lives and careers around ALL their interests. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is the author of the award-winning book, How to Be Everything (HarperCollins), and her TED talk has been viewed 6 million times. Learn more about Emilie here.

29 Comments

  1. Greta Thunberg’s climate activism waking us up to the climate reality that’s happening NOW (and will only get worse) has made do this: drop a few of my multipotentialite projects to *make space* to add a new one in that will directly contribute to helping people to respond effectively to climate change. (Idea is still under wraps, but coming together.)

    If there’s anyone else out there who might be interested in collaborating with me on that, please let me know. You can message me via my web address.

    • Emilie says:

      Yes!!! That is awesome, Michael.

    • John Aurelio says:

      Hi Emily,

      Climate change can’t be thwarted by a mass effort to clean the environment. There are plenty of people, both on an individual level and on organized fronts, who have been tackling climate change and pollution for years. Blessed are the children.

      The question that seems to pass us by these days, as well as before, along with climate change, is why aren’t our governments working? Climate change is a socioeconomic problem that began ages ago. We have all the talent(s) in the world, but it is our industrial processes, our worldwide collective inability to agree, much less govern, that needs to be fixed.
      Greed – capitalism and the rest of the “isms” that are just other facets of the enormity of climate change problem.

      Can we change in lieu of today’s climate? It didn’t happen during Noah’s time but there was a different type of pollution that was of concern then…and today…it is still a problem.

      I think I will pick a mile of highway roadside and begin my efforts; I have a lot of writing to do. We should all be very concerned about our collective future…we the people.

      Thanks,
      JohnA

  2. Lisa says:

    Oh I love this post.

    Yes, so much yes.

    Discovering multipotentialit-ism enabled me to give myself permission to chase all the things I want to…especially the skills I feel are important for the climate crisis. A couple of years ago I made a list of my crew of friends and our “apocalypse skills”, and I started pursuing learning skills that were missing. As a result of that I’m now in nursing school, which I’m going to top off with some wilderness health certifications (I have a wilderness first responder but I want to up it to EMT). I’m also really involved in activism (Extinction Rebellion) because I hope there might still be some sliver of a chance of staving off the worst of this.

    Anyway I would say the climate crisis is the driving force behind everything I’m doing in my life right now, and multipotentialitism gave me permission to do all the things that I feel I need to do all at the same time.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Lisa,

      You are seriously inspiring. Thanks for everything you’re doing. Really amazing.

      Your comment actually got me thinking. We’re going to be doing more features of multipods doing interesting/important work in the future, and if you’re cool with it, someone on our team might reach out for an interview. It probably wouldn’t be until early 2020, but let me know what you think?

      Best,
      Emilie

  3. I’m similarly anxious about climate change. My problem is I know the solutions (everybody love everybody + conservation + Indigenous Regenerative Agriculture + Art-Farming) but the political will just isn’t there. Too many for-profit Politicians globally these days – it’s a systemic issue at play with global warming and climate change in my experience.

    I’d check out “Tree Yo! Permaculture” and Regeneration International as some good starting points for permaculture/Indigenous Regenerative Agriculture. Just don’t appropriate cultures, please.

    That makes me Angry.
    :) <3
    – S.K.D.

    • Dave W says:

      Hi mate, interesting answer. I’m in England so I don’t really know the groups you refer to but what I would say is that what is called cultural appropriation is basically how mankind has always developed. It is a very modern trend to condemn it. If you think about it, in earliest times, one group learned from their neighbours a better way of doing something, then one village from their next village, then one culture from another. Simple human development. And it is as valid now as then. The thing to avoid is stealing the rights of another group, or falsely claiming the ownership of that culture. But in a free society one should be able to live in the way one wants, provided that it does not break the law or harm others. Politically correct claptrap should not be a reason for causing stress in our lives. I don’t wish to offend, just my opinion. Best wishes

  4. Brenda says:

    Yes, to everything you wrote in your post. I read an article about climate change in December 2018 and that changed my work focus completely. I started researching everything I could about the problem until I flipped it to everything I can find about solutions. There are MANY solutions. So I came up with the questions: What can I do? What can WE do? What is my ROLE in the WE? And those questions determine my focus each day. I shifted my career coaching business to “coaching students interested in Energy, the Environment and Sustainability.” I want to prepare students for their evolving future. I want to prepare students for jobs that don’t exist, yet, because jobs of the future are the ones these students will create. I live in Charlotte, NC, and there are many projects happening here to reverse climate change and mitigate the inevitable effects. I participate with the Sierra Club on camping and hiking adventures to enjoy nature (you cannot protect what you do not love) and advocacy efforts. I participate with multiple non-profits working on solutions. I am more involved in local politics than I have ever been before. I am tracking the presidential candidates like never before. Thank you for your post. I had not connected my interest in climate change with my being a multipotentialite. The two are definitely connected.

    • VaneSG says:

      Amazing work! Is there any website where I can read about your projects? =D

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Brenda,

      Wow, this is fantastic. Like I mentioned to Lisa above, we’re hoping to do more features on multipotentialites doing important work. You might be a great person to interview, if you’re interested (and have time! :). Let me know what you think. Wouldn’t be for another few months probably.

      Thanks for everything you’re doing and for the inspiring comment!

      Emilie

    • Brenda I love the positive, hopeful, and solution-focused approach that you are taking. Quite frankly, I can’t tolerate Greta Thunberg and don’t think the world needs a 16 year old to terrorise everyone into action. Let’s all work to effect change within our circles of control and influence, and respectfully bring others along on the journey with us, just as you are doing.

  5. Ananya says:

    This article resonated big time! I’m actually a student and a youth climate organizer, but I ran into this blog because it gave me so many ideas for what to look into in terms of potential career possibilities. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot, because right now I’m putting my heart into climate activism because I feel so much urgency, but I don’t want to spend my entire future acting based off fear and urgency, I also want to get to do the other things that I love.

    I think we all have the potential to organize in whatever spaces we inhabit, and if we are able to inhabit multiple spaces professionally, that gives us even more leverage points to create change. We absolutely need leaders stepping up in other fields to learn about how to decarbonize and transition each industry, and I think people like multipotentialites who have connections in multiple fields have a many way to be able to engage. Start having the conversations about what it might look like to transition the work that you do into work that reduces our impact on the climate and environment, and move into clean energy!

  6. Josiane Fortin says:

    Hi! This is such a hot topic for me right now…

    Being a multipotentialite, I decided to get involved in politics!!!

    I am running a campaign to get elected in the next federal election in Canada. I am part of the Green party. This has allowed me to speak on the radio, on TV and in front of crowds about the climate crisis.

    When we are multipotentialite, we can use our super powers to try to change the world.

  7. Hi Multipods
    For me the climate change issue is in my head since many many years and even more intense the last 10 years. I’m kind of releaved that now the issue spreads more globally. So my work and life focus changed about 10 years ago.
    Like many of you seem to do now I really thought a lot of what projects I keep doing and what new ones I take on. The key for me is that my priority is in things that are meaningful and support life. If anything I do does not support this, I stop it. My main guide is life in nature. If I’m stuck or need inspiration or advice I go out in the woods or in a garden. When I see all the narural living organisms and feel them around me I start to feel the connection with life. Then my path seems to become visible much clearer and I know where to go.

  8. Shilpa says:

    I’ve been conscious of climate change (mainly the impact of humans on the environment) for over a decade now. I am also aware that I can only change myself and inspire others to do the same. So for the last 7 years I’ve been practicing conscious living, decluttering, and a slower, more meaningful life in a tiny home. I’m also now learning farming, and have started upcycling and recycling things (and selling them) to keep them from going into the landfill and to reduce demand for fresh plastic. One of the things I want to do is write a recipe book of all the recipes I learnt from my grandparents and parents, because many of them don’t exist in any cookbook and will be lost if they’re not recorded. Part of climate change is also how food has become a convenience industry, instead of being an art close to nature. I use many different skills while farming, and also in my upcycling. The only skill I need to develop, or find someone to help me with, is marketing…

    • Emilie says:

      I hear that, Shilpa. I’ve started viewing food differently since moving to a remote island a few years ago. Now when I want to make a salad, instead of going to the store, I go out to the garden and pick it. It’s an incredible experience and feels very natural.

  9. Allie says:

    I love this post. Although I don’t get paid for the things I do to help Mother Earth, I’d like to think that being a multipotentialite directed my path. I’ve made some radical changes in my life in order to reduce my carbon footprint. I am a vegetarian working my wait to veganism, my crafts projects have become more meaningful in the sense that I reuse and repurpose furniture and other things to prevent them from going into the landfill, I shop second hand 90% of the time, I compost, I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I carry a reusable water bottle with me, and I talk/educate my friends and family about ways they too can make a simple change in their lives that will make a greater impact in the world.

  10. VaneSG says:

    Wow I feel so involved in this topic. I actually did my PhD project in Carbon dioxide reutilisation (the most abundant global warming gass). So my whole life has been directed towards ecology, sustainability, and basically trying to save the planet. However, after the PhD I have been trying to choose a slight career change (I want to enjoy other fields in chemistry), and I feel like if I’m doing something wrong, like if I’m betraying the planet. Like my moral obligation is to continue fighting against climate change.
    That is one of my inner contradictions as a multipotentialite.

    • Emilie says:

      Interesting! I bet you’ll eventually find a way to explore other areas of chemistry and also help fight climate change. That might look different than what you’d initially imagined, but that’s okay. And PhDs are long! Who can blame you for wanting to explore something new.

  11. Shaw Khantikachenchart says:

    Thanks for writing this article. I really feel conencted to climate change topic and how you feel about it. It has been a long time since before I discovered myself as a multipotentialite that climate change concerned me and influenced my passions and projects. While studying in the university (I was studying about language and stuffs), I often found time out to take part in environment-related leadership programs. I have been invloved in raising climate change awareness somehow despite language teaching and edtech jobs I landed in after years of graduation. Now that I grow my new passion about data science, natural language processing and stuffs, I also join a environment-theme hackaton in my country from time to time. I was part of team to develop web application to tackle forest fire in my areas. It seems like no matter what I shift my focus into, I always relate them to climate change.

  12. Melissa Bettcher says:

    This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. In addition to being a multi-pod I also deal with ADHD and even though I have a tonne of great ideas, I have a hard time sticking to them to make them work in the long term.Luckily for me, environmental concerns have always been a passion of mine and many of my hobbies and volunteer endeavors surround this very thing. I am looking at ways to help other people in my unique niche (ADHD multi-pod environmentalists) to actually get things accomplished but in a way that works with our unique gifts. As a mutli-pod I have not specialized in one specific area of knowledge and so I have a bit of imposter syndrome.My ideas are still formulating and I don’t know if this will be something that I will turn into a side hustle or if it will be strictly another unpaid type of thing to add to my growing list of volunteer gigs but I am excited to finally find something I feel qualified to give advice on.

  13. Paul says:

    The words “climate change” are used to emphasize destruction and ending of life as we know it. However, there is also fear…and anxiety…and etc, etc, etc. Arrogance about human significance is a factor, but so is appreciation about human reality.

    The reality (and the outcome in the daily actual world) is contained in the individual’s intent. And how easily they maintain (or at least with ease repeatedly return to the same intent).

    In quantum field theory there is the Higgs field. If I understand “the current understanding of the quantum physicists” correctly, all phenomenon “exists” and “is possible” because the Higgs field “makes” all the other fields (atoms, electrons, gravity, etc) possible.

    In the subtle energy fields (as presented by William Tiller, Ph.D. in the book Science and Human Transformation) it is intent that attracts other subtle energy particles that then – when enough are combined – create effects in the daily life, health and well being of us.

    As a Taiji teacher with over 35 years experience, I have taught people how to guide their intent and actions … and seen them reduce pain in a couple of minutes … or move freely when they couldn’t before.

    The three parts of this blend are intent and actions and the individual choosing gently and persistently what they prefer. Individual intent, individual actions, individual choosing their preference. It doesn’t remove the past, but it does enact the present preference.

    Many individuals helped cause the current conditions and conditionings. And many individuals can intentionally help cause much more beneficial outcomes.

    Fear is like a clue that something needs “doing” because there is a potential or actual danger. So, 1) start with intent, 2) follow with even a small action that expresses the intent, and 3) persist in choosing the same intent and action(s) (or even improving on these).

    As a multi-potential-ite I can easily see many sides, both negative and positive. I can also see and understand the streamlined path or paths to even more fulfilling results and outcomes. To a great extent anxiety and appreciation are optional for me. My intent guides me, my actions express my intent and free my emotions and thinking, and my persistence helps me enact “peace of mind living, being, doing”. [By the way, I don’t avoid anxiety, I explore what it provides for me to learn. For me, anxiety is a “hint” about something that I now need to learn. And so I do.)

    The current “climate change and crisis” is “not” a positive experience. But it is a triggering event and experience that can evoke multi-potentials to form the multiplicity of wonderfully innovative solutions and ways to profoundly and simply fulfill their own and other’s daily life and daily concerns.

    … perhaps … maybe … what if … and ?

  14. Allan Rhodes says:

    Hi:

    For me climate change action is a call to local action, to transition initiatives. From all my projects I have dropped this year projects that want to have a BIG impact, for more local small impacts (but I believe more important).

    Cheers,

    Allan
    Mexico

  15. michael says:

    YES.

    I’ve spent the last week trying to figure out a “not quite perpetual motion device, but achieves the same outcome” to generate power. I feel like I’m so close.

    My team and I closed the office for the day and went to the climate strike.

    I’ve been pretty active on the Facebook group @ap4ca which has made me move away from Twitter and I’ve completely stopped logging into the Puttytribe site (sorry..).

    And now my business is cashflow negative and unless I figure something out soon it will go broke by the middle of next year.

  16. Sarah says:

    It’s really uplifting to see how many people responded to this post with ways they’re making differences! One of the main reasons I joined the Puttytribe is because I recently quit my full-time job to start my career over, specifically so I can focus on ecology and its response to the changing climate. My problem is I don’t have one particular direction I want to go in so, like the rest of my life, I’ll probably end up with 30 different projects that somehow touch the realm of climate change. Once I figure out my “main” ecological passion, I’ll try and work it into a Ph.D.

  17. Hi Emily,

    This post has really started me thinking! The climate crisis has not changed either my interests or the way I pursue them. But what is interesting to me in reflecting on your post is that my chosen lifestyle and most of the activities within it are aligned with living sustainably. This approach has emerged from a desire to challenge societal expectations in relation to what we all ‘should’ be doing, a desire for some degree of self-sufficiency, and a desire to reduce consumerism and waste. All of which will postively influence climate if enough people get on board!

    My view is that we should all work less, because then we spend less for example on petrol, parking, wardrobe, takeaway food. Working less enables us to have more time to grow at least some of our own food, cook more which reduces waste from takeaway containers, pursue hobbies and participate more in community. Personally, I work part-time, have an embryonic permaculture garden, chickens arriving later this year, I buy most clothes from the op shop, sew and upcycle clothing, make and use beeswax wraps instead of plastic, use fabric grocery bags, buy many food staples using my own containers from a bulk food store, and cook a lot from scratch. We live in a passive solar off-grid house with a stand alone solar system and batteries, and with our own water. (Well, once the drought breaks we’ll have our own water!) And there is nothing like managing your own rubbish to increase thoughtfulness about the packaging of items you are going to purchase as well as what can be recycled. My life also centres around participation in community. I’m involved in a craft group primarily focused on using recycled materials; the local community garden; an environmental group that hosts clothes swaps and other awareness raising events; and I try to ‘show up’ and contribute to community events of all kinds to increase the vibrancy of the small community in which I live, and to broaden connections and relationships. These connections then enable the exchange of goods, services, and skills.

    Coming full circle back to the climate crisis, I’m not convinced that creating fear in the populace will work. As Brenda in an earlier comment points out, the important question to ask is what can I do and what can we do. Yes there is a need for some solutions to be implemented on a global scale. I find thinking about this too overwhelming. But what I can do is to seek to influence others. Not by finger-wagging, arrogance, or shaming people, but by providing achievable examples from my own life of how climate impact can be reduced.

    Warmest regards,

    Jo

Leave a Comment