It is hard enough to be a student in high school without being asked the golden question: What do you want to when you grow up? If a high school student received a dollar for every time someone has asked them this question, college tuition money would no longer be an issue. Emilie Wapnick understands the struggle of this question and addresses it in her recent TedTalk conference, “Why some of us don't have one true calling”.
TED Talks is a global conference that has different speakers address issues and their own ideas on science, culture, technology, entertainment, design, etc. Like other speakers, Wapnick talks about the struggle of growing up with people demanding that she pick an interest and stick with it.
“See, the problem wasn't that I didn't have any interests -- it's that I had too many,” Wapnick says. Many high school students can relate to this because in an environment where so many different opportunities are available to experience, an individual’s mind becomes almost like a magnet to all these different creative pursuits. She found herself in a never ending pattern where she would put all her effort into one interest and then get bored after a while just to move on to the next. Wapnick tells the audience that this habit of hers started making her question her ability to commit and how she thought that she was, unknowingly, afraid of her own success. She was afraid of this habit because it was, and still is, considered a flaw by society.
“Ask yourself where you learned to assign the meaning of ‘wrong’ or ‘abnormal’ to doing many things. I'll tell you where you learned it: you learned it from the culture,” Wapnick says. Consistency is emphasized very much in our society. Why is that? To quote every parent, counselor, and teacher: “Because that is what colleges look for.” People who move from one endeavor to another are told that they will not succeed in life if they do not settle down on to one major or field. But Wapnick tells the audience how people who are interested in so many different things have nothing wrong with them. In fact, they are needed in this world. They are called “multipotentialites.”
Multipotentialites are those who are wired to have different passions and “creative pursuits” in life instead of sticking to one. Their strengths include:
This does not mean there is anything wrong with specialists. In the world, there needs to be both kinds of people in order to progress. “The specialist can dive in deep and implement ideas, while the multipotentialite brings a breadth of knowledge to the project. It's a beautiful partnership,” Wapnick continues to say as she makes her point.
But at the end of the day, people should embrace their inner wirings. Just as the world needs specialists, it also needs mulitpotenialites. Why? Because with numerous issues in society, out-of-the-box, creative thinkers are needed.
When applying to colleges and universities, high school multipotenialites find that the questions are asked as singular and not plural. As a multipotentialite, one should not be confined to society’s idea that one is enough for a lifetime. Here is a free history lesson. During the Renaissance Age, those who practiced multiple disciplines were highly admired and held on a pedestal. Since the Age of Enlightenment to today’s society, when did having multiple interests become a flaw? When someone has numerous passions, society should encourage them like they have before.
Wapnick ends her presentation by and encouraging multipotentialites (and specialists) to be open to their inner wiring and be proud to be who they are.