Be A Jackie-of-All-Trades Without Guilt or Shame

By Megan Charles (original article link)

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I’m going to reveal my strange superpower. It is so super-secret, I didn’t realize I had one until yesterday. While reading, How To Be Everything, by Emilie Wapnick I recognized my (newly identified) "gift" and, after digesting Wapnick’s helpful insights, was able to accept it as more of a blessing than a curse.

Come closer gesturing you to do so, as I conspiratorially whisper, “I am a multipotentialite.”

No reeling back in response to your silly, obscure movie reference, and returning to my normal tone of voice. I can’t duplicate myself like Michael Keaton’s character (Doug) in Multiplicity (1996 film). Though I pause to consider this it is oddly appropriate given each of his clones possessed and emphasized a talent the original Doug held. Doug was too overwhelmed to do everything he wanted and needed to. I can relate. Hence the benefit of having multiple versions of himself.

Multipotentialites are individuals with several, sometimes very diverse interests. We pursue a variety of creative, educational, and professional avenues. Obsessively deep-diving into what interests us is our jam.

We are passionate about trying several things, sometimes all at once. It is common for multipotentialites to get overwhelmed. In our eagerness to try all the things, we might bite off more than we can chew. As such, it can be challenging to make progress with ongoing projects. It can also be challenging to amalgamate our myriad of interests and work-styles into a functional career path.

I often have a few overlapping interests going on at any given time. The investment in a respective interest can vary from weeks to years.

I’m a “Jackie-of-all-trades, master of none.” This means I’m a collector of random knowledge and skills; some I hone, others I drop and never take back up. Once I get to be somewhat adroit at something, my interest wanes. I’m no longer challenged or inspired. Not long after, I move along to the next thing.

I experienced this in college (going from one major to another; in journalism, history, medicine), with online learning, in hobbies, and when trying to determine my ideal career path.

When I do quit or change direction, I am disappointed. After all, I invest time and [sometimes, a lot of] money into courses, learning materials, and related supplies. Sure, I’ve attained knowledge, learned how to do something new. But I get frustrated because, once again, I’ve failed to figure out my one true purpose. The thing I should be devoting my life to. How many things do I have to try out before I find my purpose? Shouldn’t I know what it is by now?

It’s not for a lack of trying.

We’re often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we’re young, it is often posed to illicit an adorable response. As you get older, though, this question carries more weight, expectation, and responsibility.

By the time we’re barely old enough to vote, we’re supposed to have an inkling of what our one true calling is. No pressure. This is just the soul-fulfilling life mission we are all endowed with, right? The direction we’re intended to dedicate our lives to.

We are in awe of people who know, aim for, and achieve success with their one special purpose. They adhere to a straight path from A to Z. They have a talent or interest they never seem to tire of. They specialize in their skill and profession; becoming masters of their trade. Devoting their lives to this one true calling, something ****many of us struggle to identify for ourselves.

What about those of us who have no idea what we want to do with our lives (at 18 or 42)? Who isn’t wired this way?

Sidebar: Knowing what I do now, I advocate for young people to take their time before they venture off and get into serious college debt. I wish I had. But I bought into the idea a degree would guarantee me a better job or give me direction. A lot of us did. Fresh out of high school and clueless about what you want to do? There is nothing wrong with taking a step back and considering your options. Not everyone needs to go to college nor do you have to go to college immediately after high school. You are allowed to choose a different path. Dabble with free online learning tools — there are literally thousands of them online for just about anything you might be interested in. Or take an intro to a trade course, for example.