“The limiting identity of expert…”

“The limiting identity of expert…”

Written by Emilie

Topics: Famous Multipotentialites

“Move on, Sontag urged. Leave the field untilled. Switch projects. Change hemispheres. Make a film. Direct a play. Write a novel. Fly to Hanoi. Nonspecialist, she refused restriction, scorned the limiting identity of expert. She would rather have been considered a collector, connoisseur, sad pervert–anything but an academic.”

-Wayne Koestenbaum, writing about author, Susan Sontag

We so often view “expert” as the goal, not recognizing the restrictions it imposes. You don’t need to be an expert to do brilliant work. You don’t need to be an expert to be effective. You don’t need to be an expert to make a difference.

What if we all stopped striving so hard for social recognition and focused instead on quenching our curiosity, exploring our inklings, and following our hearts down those gloriously non-linear paths?

How would things be different? How would you be different?

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. 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 an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.


  1. LarryB says:

    Fantastic quote — and wonderful point of view on the limiting identity of expert … That’s a new way of looking at things for me, and I appreciate it.


  2. Yes! So many times we limit what we think we are capable of because we don’t think big enough. We also don’t think we’re qualified enough. My advice? Take the leap. When failure’s not an option, we always find a way to fly:)

  3. Stephen Reed says:

    Nice brief post Emilie, and it’s so true, not for everyone, there surely are some people who get one major passion in their lives, and run with it, but for the rest of us, being shoe-horned into something that feels so restrictive is debillitating to the extreme.

    I realised a while back that I was never going to find a single focus in my life or my work, and after spending so many years fighting against that gut feeling, when I understood that I am not destined for a single life track, I felt one hell of a lot better.

    I guess I should have realised a lot earlier, I’ve always liked to have multiple things on the go, but that can also lead to overwhelm, and it does…frequently.

    I’ve worked as a professional firefighter, a emergency radio dispatcher for the Police, I’ve done inline skating, martial arts, fishing, running, weight training, personal trainer, nutrition coaching, worked in a cafe, built websites. I now write books for Kindle, and am planning on building a business for people who want diverse and multiple income streams.

    I’m excited for sure. But, and there is a but, to make progress, one does need to find some focus, or at least alot time to doing certain things when those things need doing. I find that I can flit between all sorts of ideas and focal points in a day, and I used to end up getting nothing done :-)

    Now, as I follow my passions and my gut, I’ve been able to build success, and a location independent income that allows me to do what I want, when I want to do it. Very empowering, and not that hard in the scheme of things.

    Good luck with your community building, it looks like an incredibly cool and fulfilling project.


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