Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Afflicted With Too Much Talent

photo courtesy of Glen Noble, Unsplash

photo courtesy of Glen Noble, Unsplash

When you were a teen, did you hear this?

“You’re so lucky. You can do anything you want, when you grow up. You could be a doctor, lawyer, musician, engineer, professor, IT professional, journalist, artist, anthropologist–anything. Aren’t you lucky!”

You didn’t feel lucky.

You felt confused and overwhelmed. Guilty and ungrateful. Paralyzed and like a failure. Did I mention that you didn’t feel lucky?

And what happened to that kid who used to be full of excitement and enthusiasm? Reading voraciously. Sleeping with the encyclopedia. Dancing spontaneously. Curious beyond measure. What happened?

Let me guess.

Maybe it was school. Maybe it was your dysfunctional family and your chainsaw parents. You’re complicated so it was probably more than one thing. But just for today, let’s look at your unending number of interests and abilities. Your passion for learning new things. Your boredom with something once you’ve mastered it. Your multipotentiality.

You are afflicted with multipotentiality. Or, as Emilie Wapnick calls it in her TED talk, you’re a multipotentialite.

Yes, indeed. I’ve known many rainforest-minded folks with this affliction. And you won’t get any sympathy from the masses. Too much talent just doesn’t bring out the compassion. But, for you, it can stop you in your tracks. How do you choose just one thing? How do you make a career out of psychoneuromusicalanthrobiocomedy? Not to mention being a psychoneuromusicalanthrobiocomedic parent.

Your coping strategies? Procrastination. Depression. Anxiety. Hot Fudge Sundaes.

Not so great.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. You don’t have to stick to one job/career.
  2. Multipotentiality is not a sign of weakness or inability to focus or ADHD or slackeritis.
  3. Use your creativity to craft careers that combine many talents and interests. Good resources for guidance are here and here. (and Emilie)
  4. Look for the book Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher.
  5. Don’t feel guilty anymore for your abundance. It’s not your fault.
  6. If you’re a parent, make a list of all of the ways parenting meets your needs for variety, emotional growth, problem solving, deep loving connection and intellectual stimulation.
  7. Make a list of all of the things you’ve done so far in your jobs/careers and family life to prove to yourself that you’ve accomplished a lot even if you feel like you haven’t. Meet with a coach or career counselor who has also slept with her encyclopedia.
  8. Let yourself grieve over the choices that you don’t take because even though you can do a lot, you probably won’t get to everything in one lifetime. Believe in reincarnation.

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To my bloggEEs: Are you afflicted with too much talent? What do you do about it? Have you created several career paths along the way? Thank you as always for reading and sharing!

 


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Are You A Multipotentialite*?

I am not a multipotentialite. But I’ve known many. Many. I’ve lived with one. Most of my counseling clients fit the bill. Several friends. I suspect that I’m not one so that I can better help all of you who are. If I were one, too, well, things could get messy.

CC Flickr Martin Lambe

CC Flickr Martin Lambe

For those of you who are new to the term, let me explain. In an earlier post, I described how you may be overwhelmed  by your extraordinary curiosity. Not only that. You may, in fact, be as capable in the field of chemistry as you are in philosophy or as skilled in music as you are in literature. And you want to do it all. Depth and diversity are exciting, stimulating and necessary.

You’re afflicted with multipotentiality. Thus, you are a multipotentialite. (a term coined by Emilie Wapnick*, thanks Emilie)

You may be like my client. I’ll call her Rachel. She was interested in writing, sociology, literature, theology, politics, international relations, medicine, parenting, public speaking, feminism and math. For starters. At age 25, she was working in educational consulting at a university. It was a secure job with good benefits. She enjoyed it at first as she learned the ropes, did lots of public speaking and traveled internationally. But after about three years, there was nothing new to learn and she grew frustrated. She came to counseling looking for guidance.

CC Flickr Markus Stöber

CC Flickr Markus Stöber

It became apparent that Rachel was intellectually gifted. (like many multipotentialites) She was highly sensitive, articulate, an avid reader, creative, perfectionistic, passionate about learning, analytical, fast thinking and intense. When I explained multipotentiality, she was distressed and said, “It’s shattering to realize that there’s not the shining beacon of a single path.” She felt lost in “a shadowy empty forest that had too many paths that went off far into the foggy distance.”

Knowing that she was a multipotentialite was not good news.

She had to grieve the notion that she had one particular calling and that all she had to do was find it and do it. Multipotentiality was so much more complicated and frightening.

But as we talked more, she began to accept and appreciate her gifted rainforest mind. And we started planning her next career move. I suggested she read Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose, examine other resources and join Emilie’s community. She began to see that being a multipotentialite could work.

But she was torn between being practical and going for her dreams. She was afraid that she was just hoping for some unreachable “pie in the sky.”

I asked her to consider that there was pie available. And she didn’t have to go to the sky to get it.

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To my blogEEs: Thanks, as always, for your sweet attention. If this post speaks to you, click on the links to Emilie Wapnick’s website. She’s bubbling over with practical and creative ideas. (and thanks to the reader who originally told me about Emilie)