What If You Don’t Have a True Calling?

What If You Don’t Have a True Calling? image

From the time she was in high school, Emilie Wapnick was passionate about many subjects: English, math, art, computers. And as she grew older, she found herself consumed by a particular area, only to master it, grow bored and move on to another. 

She eventually leveraged her interest in multiple subjects into a successful career as a career coach, counseling those who may have many interests, many jobs over a lifetime, and many interlocking potentials.

In her 2015 TED Talk, which now has more than 7 million views, Wapnick explores a question adults regularly ask children: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“While this question inspires kids to dream about what they could be” Wapnick says, “it does not inspire them to dream about all they can be.”

In fact, Wapnick argues, the question is unfair. “When someone asks you, you can’t reply with 20 different things.” Kids rarely hear about those who have multiple careers spanning multiple disciplines. Instead, they feel as though they are forced to choose. 

Society has romanticized the notion of a person with a single, solitary pursuit; those who don’t fit that framework are different or less-than. Wapnick says people who feel like they don’t have one true calling are not unusual and they are not alone. 

She even has a term for them: “Multipotentialite.” 

“What I’ve learned is that there are some tremendous strengths to being this way,” Wapnick said. She’s identified three “multipotentialite super powers”:

  • Idea synthesis – combining two or more fields and finding something new at the intersection. 
  • Rapid learning – multipotentialites bring everything they’ve learned to every new area they pursue, so they are rarely starting from scratch.
  • Adaptability – the ability to morph into whatever you need to be in any given situation. 

JazzJune is founded on the principle that one size has never fit all when it comes to education. We not only recognize the differences among learners, we celebrate and encourage them. 

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