On TEDxBend, Emilie Wapnick says, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At what age were you? Has this question ever caused you anxiety, or were you born innately knowing what you wanted to specialize in throughout your life?

“Have too many passions to settle on just one? Perfect. Your unique mix of interests may turn out to be your very own superpower.”

Emilie Wapnick

I would say this question always caused me anxiety because it was too hard to pick one thing. Yet, isn’t this what we’re trained from very young to expect of ourselves?

Instead of:

“What are all the things you’d like to be when you grow up?”

We ask and have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We’re expected to know what one thing we want to do.

This is still a question I can’t answer. Fortunately, I learned that there is a name for people like me, and perhaps for some of you as well!

There are specialists who know exactly what they want to focus on. They lead specific fields within their focus. Then, there are the rest of us who excel in this, study that, get one degree, and then work in something else. We can bring many layers of skill sets into focused settings by being able to draw upon a variety of pursued interests that we’ve gathered along the way.

We are called, “Multipotentialites.”

Why Some of us Don’t Have One True Calling |Emilie Wapnick | TEDxBend

“Multipotentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields.” Wikipedia

In 2010 or later, Emilie Wapnick coined the term multipotentialite“, perhaps to establish a shared identity for the community. She defines it this way: A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. … Being a multipotentialite is our destiny.”


Cover photo by Nikita Kachanovsky


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s