A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up [Medium]

Emilie Wapnick, author of How To Be Everything, gives TED talk about Multipotentialites
Emilie Wapnick’s TED Talk about Multipotentialites | Photo courtesy of Puttylike | NOT sponsored content

What did you want to be when you grew up? What was your answer to that when you were a child? Don’t worry, I won’t laugh.

Grown-ups only ask you that when you’re little so that they can gush about the cuteness of your response.

No-one cares about what you want to be when you grow up. No-one expects you to become an astronaut or a ballerina or a detective.

They only care that you pick a thing and stick to it. Not the thing you wanted to be as a child — that would be weird. I mean pick a grown-up thing. Get a job and that’s your lot in life.

What one thing do you want to do for the rest of your life at the expense of all your other interests? Do you feel uncomfortable answering that question? That’s what they meant.

You ever noticed how someone’s opening gambit when they meet you is to ask: “What do you do?” Instead of: “Who are you?”

What’s more — they treat the answer to the first question like it’s the answer to the second.

People act like you’re supposed to pop out of the womb knowing what your mission in life is. If you did: That’s great. Good for you. Have a biscuit.

Some of us don’t. Some of us have a bunch of things that we want to be or do. Some of us hate the fact that we’re expected to narrow down our interests.

Why do I have to pick one thing? I want to do all the things. My job title doesn’t define who I am thank you very much.

Sometimes you do stuff for a while but get bored and dive into something else. Sometimes you switch careers at the drop of a hat.

Society tells you to get back in your box.

Your career is a lifelong commitment to one thing at the expense of everything else. Don’t you know that? Do you expect to be happy or fulfilled or something? Perish the thought.

You’re allowed to have hobbies on weekends but you’ve got to keep your nose to the grindstone the rest of the time. That’s what they want you to believe.

Well I’m here to tell you that, to quote Linda in Lucifer, “That’s not how this works.”

You don’t have to settle, you don’t have to do only one thing, and you’re not alone if you think that this mentality sucks.

It turns out you’re not alone. There is an alternative path. There are people with a wide range of interests and talents that they’re free to explore.

They’re called multipotentialites — and, if you’ve read this far, you may be one of them.

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