Jack of all trades, master of none? An old saying, for an old problem: having so many interests, and possibly so many talents, that you can't just focus on one subject or pursuit.
What does it mean to be multi-passionate?
To have multiple passions is kinda like being the ultimate fan girl. Anything remotely related to one of your many areas of interest sends you into full geek mode, diving in to learn just everything there is to know about it. You take an almost child-like delight in exploring all the things that light up your brain.
Anyone who's ever been 13 and obsessed with a band or show can relate to that fervor. Being multi-passionate, however, means that for you, unlike most people, that level of engagement with the world never dies down. You don't grow out of it; you just grow up. And find tons of more things that fascinate you.
As adults, multi-passionate people become pretty easy to spot. You're the one who's toured with a band as their photographer, but also once managed a restaurant. You acted in a few indie films, sing your own songs at local open mic nights and you also keep bees. If you've found your balance among all of these hobbies, interests and streams of income, then you are one of the most interesting people in the room. Any room. But if you're still being pulled in all directions by your obsessions, then you might unfortunately be seen as a total flake.
The benefits of being multi-passionate.
This is the perfect time for you to be alive. It's the age of the side hustle and remote work opportunity extravaganzas. Here are just a few reasons you being you puts you one step ahead of the rest.
- Energy. You probably have loads of energy. From the stack of books (on various topics) by your bed, to the eclectic range of podcasts on your playlist, you are almost always excited about something. And being able to bring that level of engagement to what you do for money is a major advantage.
- High happiness quotient. Multi-passionate folks are rarely blue for long. You're also hardly ever bored. Work not going well? That's okay, you've got a cooking class to look forward to Thursday evening. Rainy weekend? What a perfect opportunity to start that mini-series on the Industrial Revolution! No matter what's going on in your life, you're always able to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
- Multi-talented. Because multi-passionate people have so many areas of interest, and the energy to explore all of them, you're also very often creators and innovators in your chosen field/s. A variety of multi-disciplinary experiences helps you see the world, and make connections, in a way no one else can. That's because you've got a brain hard-wired to explore.
- You're built for the hustle. Side gigs and freelancing lifestyles are flourishing. Chances are, so are you. If you've focused yourself and are determined to apply what you know, turning that energy and high degree of interest into an income stream (or, um, several) is just the kind of challenge you thrive on. And since you can speak so well on a variety of subjects, you're also able to slip into any networking event or drinks hour and make at least a few viable connections.
The drawbacks of being multi-passionate.
It isn't all learning to speak Italian while practicing your tap-dancing routines, after all. Being multi-passionate has its own particular challenges and hurdles to overcome.
- "Flake." Most people have a pretty standard idea of what success and adulting should look like. A career, homeownership, a partner and maybe kids, and for sure having some money in the bank. If you're an itinerant artist/herbalist/etc traveling around in your van, chances are you're going to get hit with this and a few other labels. Be kind and also patient with yourself. You're going to find your way and, in the end, might end up becoming one of the most "successful" people you know.
- Your resume is a mess. By which we mean, all over the darn place. Selling yourself to potential employers might call for a more skills sets-oriented resume, rather than the traditional, more linear template. Show off all the things you've learned, and also why this wide array of abilities is an asset. Because you're really not, let's repeat it, a flake.
- Where's your tribe? "Slash" people don't fit well under any given label. Being the chef slash musician slash Shinto practitioner can be a little lonely. After all, it's easier to ask what you don't do, rather than what you do. Finding people who understand you might be challenging. But there are others like you out there, and the internet makes connecting other "slash"-ers easier than ever. You'll find a tribe. Eventually.
- Focus. When you love just a whole bunch of things, and want to dive into learning and practicing each, husbanding your energy toward any one project is difficult. You no sooner settle in at the yoga instructors' retreat than you get a buzz going for HTML and learning to code. When it comes to making money, or even just keeping yourself sane, you're going to have to find ways to help yourself focus in order to be productive. In fact, with the dozen or so side gigs you've got going, this might be life skill number one for you to cultivate.
- Resenting the boring bits. When something fails to interest you, it really bombs. But life is full of boring yet oh so necessary tasks. Like getting your recycling out of the house before the ants rise up and demand their own Netflix account. Part of developing your focusing skills will be making yourself do what needs to be done, no matter how much you'd rather be doing something more fun.
Tips for multi-passionate people
Focus yourself with intent.
Think big picture: what kind of life do you want to have, what does success look like for you? Rather than bounce from interest to interest, really look at what you love to do and learn about. Chances are there are at least a few overlapping areas of interest that can work together to not only make you happy, but also make you money. Think of these groupings as "day job" pursuits. Each one has the possibility of turning into either a job or a side hustle.
Ask: Do I even need a career?
You don't have to find your one true calling, after all. Not everybody has or wants a "career." Sometimes you just have a job. It pays the bills and it doesn't suck. As long as you can find work that doesn't feel like it drains all that lovely energy of yours, and you can support yourself on the income, don't rule out just being happy with that. You can still explore all your hobbies and interests outside of work, after all.
Don't judge yourself by other people's standards. The hardest part about being different from a lot of the rest of the world is dealing with the pressure to conform, and to fit it. But internalizing someone else's opinions about how you should be living, not to mention where you should be at this point in your life, is not only ridiculous, it's counterproductive. Don't worry about what you "should" be doing. Follow what makes you happy, and just do that.
Get help: career coaches and counselors.
If you want to find a way to tie it all together, especially if most of your interests and talents lie in a similar vein, finding a professional career adviser might yield you some really helpful insights. If, for example, you love all aspects of art or holistic healing practices, a coach or counselor can help you narrow in on just the right niche (or niches!) for you, possibly ones you haven't even heard or thought of before. Sometimes all we really need to get our minds right is someone to listen to us while we talk it all out.
Consider yourself lucky to be multi-passionate. For you, the world is a wonderland of discovery, full of interesting things to do and learn and see. And once you find the balance between exploring all your interests and using at least some of them to make you money, adulting is probably going to be a lot more fun for you than it is for most of the rest of the world. Lucky you!