One of the myths of creative and multitalented people may be that they can choose whatever personal and career paths they want.
Having many interests and abilities can make for a rich and satisfying life, but also be a source of stress, especially at crossroads like choosing college majors.
Gifted education specialist Tamara Fisher quotes Bryant (a pseudonym), a graduating senior who lists his possible future careers as “applied psychologist, scientific psychologist, college teacher, philosophy, mathematics, architect, engineer.”
He says, “I find it difficult to choose between careers because I fear how large the choice is. Having many options available is pleasant, but to determine what I will do for many years to come is scary.”
Fisher notes, “Multipotentiality is the state of having many exceptional talents, any one or more of which could make for a great career for that person.
“Gifted children often (though of course not always) have multipotentiality. Their advanced intellectual abilities and their intense curiosity make them prime candidates for excelling in multiple areas. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
“On the bright side, they have many realistic options for future careers. But on the downside, some of them will struggle mightily trying to decide which choice to make.”
Fisher adds that having “so many great possible outcomes can be a source of debilitating stress.”
From her article: Multipotentiality.
Too many options
In her post Multipotentiality: When High Ability Leads to Too Many Options, Lisa Rivero describes Jason, a college junior, who “is trying to decide what to do after graduation.
“He is leaning strongly toward graduate school but is unsure of whether he wants to stay in the United States or study abroad. An honors student at a liberal arts university, he has taken a wide variety of courses–from chemistry and calculus to philosophy and political science – and he has gotten As in all of them.
“While he knows he is fortunate to have so many options available, he also sometimes panics that he will make the wrong choice and end up in a job he doesn’t like.
“If he gets a Ph.D. in political science, will he be tracked into being a college professor?
“If he pursues a master’s program in economics, will he regret not continuing with political science?
“And what about all of those classical languages he has studied? Were they just a waste of time?”
She adds, “This frustration can continue past adolescence as adults with multipotentiality may find themselves drifting from job to job, unable to settle in any spot long enough to know if it would satisfy over the long term, feeling that their lives and careers are a hodge-podge of failed attempts.”
Having potential and capabilities in many talent areas also means, almost by definition, you are underachieving: You can’t do everything.
One of the pleasures of my life has been pursuing serial interests in often radically different fields: being an assistant to multiple scientists in genetics, zoology and brain wave research; a visual effects camera operator, and multiple other jobs and pursuits.
But one of the ‘costs’ has been a life unmoored to any ordinary career path, and experiencing periods of anxiety and self-doubt.
Still, being a “Scanner” as Barbara Sher refers to multitalented people, has its rewards.
She talks about being multifaceted as an identity to celebrate: “If you’re a Scanner, you are a very special kind of thinker… genetically wired to be interested in many things.” From my post I Want To Do It All: Creative Polymathy.
[One of her books: Refuse to Choose!: A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love.]
Video: Creative people are complex and multitalented. Along with the benefits of many abilities and passions, there are challenges in realizing so many interests.
See more videos by Douglas Eby.
Also see my related article Interested In So Many Things: Creative and Multitalented.