While perusing the internet last night, I stumbled upon a website called Puttylike. The owner/author of the site is a young woman named Emilie Wapnick. She coined this term “multipotentialite” to describe people, like me, who have so many varied interests that we don’t quite fit in with the rest of society. As Emilie explains, we are taught to specialize in one thing in today’s world. This is a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution that encouraged us to become experts in one thing—the antithesis of what was once highly regarded.
A multipotentialite is basically the modern day “Renaissance Man/Woman.” A lot of people like this are described as “a Jack-of-All-Trades, but a Master of None.” I even adopted that phrase to describe myself in recent years, but it never felt quite right. I was pegging myself as someone who is OK at a lot of things, but not particularly talented in any of them. It was my only way of conveying who I was to the rest of the world within their terms.
The truth is that I am interested in a lot of things. Many people interpret this as indecisiveness, and even I began to think that about myself. However, I am gifted at a lot of those things I like. And the cognitive dissonance that I have felt for my entire adult life was not a sign that something was wrong with me. I tried my best to pigeon-hole myself. I wanted to be like everyone else that seemed to have it all together. But, after reading over some of the articles on Puttylike last night, I found out that I’m not alone and there is nothing wrong with me. I’m simply a different kind of person who doesn’t fit the cookie cutter mold that our society has endorsed. That is why I titled this post as a “Coming Out.” I think I better understand what it must be like for anyone different from the norm to come to terms with who they are. You basically have to acknowledge and accept yourself as-is, which I think is more difficult than it sounds.
Emilie Wapnick notes that some of the greatest minds in history were “multipotentialites.” Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, inventor, and anatomist, just to name a few. Now, I’m not saying that I’m in any way as brilliant as Da Vinci, but you hear less about these types of people today. But, those you do hear about are usually very successful. They learned how to embrace their multipotentiality and use it.
If you feel like one of these types, I encourage you to check out Puttylike.com to read more about not only Multipotentiality, but how those of us “MPs” can learn to harness our unique nature and use it within the system that discourages people like us. I really think that this has changed my perspective on a lot of things that I found distressing and I hope it might help you, too.