Let’s talk about us -multi-passionate women- for a moment!
For many years, I was under the impression that I can’t stick to one hobby. It was always super easy to start new things, and I would get so excited about new jobs. But as time goes by, generally somewhere around six weeks, I began to get itchy and look for something new.
And in all honesty, my feeling of duty was what kept me from resigning after a short period. During my time at varsity, it was easy to hide that boredom made me move on and find the next best thing. And I did have my own business since I was 20, which allowed me to take on various side jobs. I was achieving everything that society was expecting me to succeed. Besides a few close friends, it wasn’t apparent that I was dipping my toes into everything possible.
And back then, it was not unusual to simultaneously study a mix of various subjects: we were following the Magister Artium degree (basically a Masters degree). That system’s beauty was that you could choose either two majors or one major and two minor subjects.
Looking back at the old fashion way of studying!
Imagine having the opportunity to study for nine semesters while learning more about your three favorite topics. And guess what, it wasn’t too difficult to switch subjects in the first two semesters without losing time. Doesn’t this sound like heaven for multi-passionates? It certainly was for me. I loved studying sociology, art history, and philosophy. And the best part: there was just much more time to go abroad for a semester. I was fortunate to grow up in a system where education was more valuable than efficiency.
But the closer I got to graduating, the more pressure to find a career that I could dive into right after graduation. Unfortunately for many, I was making enough money with my business to save enough to buy my self-time. Funny how the world works; instead of receiving the support to grow my business, people were not taking it seriously. Which unfortunately reflected on how I saw my own business as well. By the age of 23, I had over 40 various clients, ranging from automotive, cosmetics, M&A banking, marketing, PR, HR, research, and journalism. I even did several internships at a bio laboratory. I enjoyed each of these areas, as long as I was able to
When things take a turn for clarity!
After I finished my Master’s degree, I didn’t just buy myself time; I decided to continue learning more and moved to South Africa. I didn’t have a plan at first. It was instead a vision of how I wanted my life to look like. I put together a research proposal and started applying for a Ph.D. position that would allow me to stay in South Africa. I didn’t get just a Ph.D. position with a fantastic professor, but I also received a part-time gig as a lecturer at Nelson Mandela University.
This set-up allowed me to continue discovering more options for developing my own business while moving forward with a Ph.D.
The obstacles that you have to overcome as a multi-passionate person.
I genuinely love my life, and I wouldn’t trade in any of it. But I do wish that, at times, I would have had some guidance along the process and less judgment. I get it; it is difficult to understand how someone can have multiple interests and talents. And unfortunately, our society isn’t creating much space for people like us, even though research shows that the future belongs to generalists. To people that have a more comprehensive understanding of many things. And that’s who we are! We are generalists! We know so much about various fields! And this can be intimidating at times. But having a brain that can think so creatively and diverse is a strength, not a weakness.
Embracing your superpower.
Sadly, many multi-talented people have low self-esteem and low confidence. And many of these multi-passionates are women. I have a theory about this, and it is based on some of the latest brain research, which Katty Kay & Claire Shipman have so wonderfully summarized in their book The Confidence Code (worth reading). As women, we use both sides of our brain simultaneously more often than men. This is great for problem solving and creative ideas. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why more women have anxiety. It is just so much harder to turn off your brain.
The world that we live in has been primarily created for men and their success. Our flexible nature has made it possible for many women to be successful within corporate structures, but the price is high. I have seen many women turn slowly into their colleagues. Not allowing themselves to be who they are and contribute in a way that aligns with their nature.
Diverse thinking is part of being a multi-passionate. As women, we love to collect, collaborate and bring communities together. That means that many of us have a fantastic ability for diplomacy, to see the big picture, and compromise.
We need to stop hiding our multi-passionate nature and start creating businesses based on our terms without feeling like we are not good enough!
Because darling, you are so talented, and you have this massive power. Embrace it and let it out into the world. Let them judge you because they don’t know better. They can’t comprehend what you can do.
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