” At 19, I was so, so utterly lost. I had no idea what to study in college, who to be, what to do. Everyone else felt like by choosing a major, their life was taking shape and finally starting for real. I felt like by choosing, I had to accomplish the impossible.”
Luisa is now 26. She wrote to me about her struggles in school trying to decide what to study when she had so many interests. “I have basically been having a recurring existential crisis over what subject to study, who to become. How for years, I have been working on maybe, somehow, some day, not being devastated about not being able to become everything I could see myself becoming one day. I wanted to study: chemistry, physics, mathematics, music, Latin, philosophy, medicine, psychology, writing, and so much more…”
She did not know she was gifted until a college counselor suggested she take an IQ test. The result put her on the road to reading everything she could find about giftedness.
“I was struggling to think of myself as gifted because I didn’t fit the idea of it that I carried with me. I did have many friends, I was sociable, kind, I enjoyed watching soccer, taking walks in the woods, drinking coffee with my friends, shopping for nice dresses–in short, I was nothing special. Of course at the same time, in many other ways, I was an absolute weirdo. But I disregarded that fact when thinking about who or what I would have to be to fit the gifted criteria.”
It took a lot of research to convince her. She wrote to me that finding out about rainforest minds changed everything. “…sometimes I felt like you understood what’s going on inside my brain better than I did. Things, little by little, started to make sense…”
Luisa began to be more self-accepting as she was able to see she was not alone, that her struggles were due to the complexities of her rainforest mind, particularly her multipotentiality. But she continues to grapple with career decisions and the pressure to choose one thing, her worries about the roads not taken, the what ifs, “this raging desire to go somewhere else, be something else, be everybody or, even better, be nobody.” She expressed gratitude for her good life. But the multipotentiality frightened and exhausted her.
“…In so many other aspects of my life, I am so perfectly fine with my oddities, intensity, and my rainforestmindedness. I have friends who I love and who love me. I have played all the instruments, learned all the languages, hitchhiked through Scotland, Sweden, France and Spain, slept out in the wild, laid naked in the sand of the Cote Catalane. I have tried my best to not beat myself up over not being perfect and I think I’m doing good. I like who I am. But these doubts about my profession, my choices, being a doctor or pharmacist or psychologist…See people often say that it’s not true that once you decide on a major, you have basically made a career choice you can’t revise. And I know how they mean it, I know of the many possibilities career paths offer these days. But it’s also a bit true that there are things you won’t be, can’t be, then…But to me, it’s the one big thing I can’t come to terms with…I am tired of being frightened that I may look back on this stage of my life later on, thinking, I wish I had made different choices. Tired of being mad at myself for not being able to enjoy what I have, what I am doing, rather than be stuck pondering all the things I am not. …”
So, I told Luisa– All of the rainforest-minded multipotentialites around the world are nodding their heads in solidarity. They are crying with you over the distress. They are grieving with you for the choices that they had to let go of. They understand the exhaustion and the fear. And yet, they also know that there is time to follow many paths and each one will have its own rewards and pitfalls. They know that in today’s world, career changes are expected; particularly among the more creative. And along any of the career paths will be options for hobbies and side projects, new music to play, beaches to lie upon, travels to take. (Many of these multipods are in the Puttyverse.)
I also suggested that Luisa start a meditation practice where she imagines she meets an inner advisor or a spiritual guide or her future self. That she learn to tune into her deeper knowing, her intuition. Maybe she writes in a journal or walks in nature. But she builds her ability to tune into herself to aid in her decision making. What does her inner advisor want her to know? What path opens her heart right now? It may take some time to learn to listen. But the process is a powerful one.
And, finally, I wondered with Luisa, if what might be most important, is who you become. No matter what you choose and how often you change career paths, the person you become is not dependent on your careers. You get to decide who you are regardless of the many paths you take. And maybe you are her, already. You are Luisa. The deep thinking, highly sensitive, seriously creative, endlessly curious, big-hearted, constantly seeking, glorious human.
And that will never change.
To my bloggEEs: Let Luisa know how you relate to her struggles in the comments. And thank you, as always, for your sweet, smart sensitivity. By the way, I so appreciate the emails from those of you sharing your experiences with love and partnering. See this post for details. I also want to hear from those of you who are happily single or are single and seeking partners. It might even be therapeutic for you to think about this and write about it. So, write to me! firstname.lastname@example.org.