I was a good kid. I was respectful of my parents and obeyed them. I would rank in the top few in class during school.
I kept friends happy by saying things they would expect me to say. I listened to my dad when he suggested I take up engineering in IT followed by masters in marketing.
I was a good kid.
Or was I?
After graduating from college, I already had a job in hand. I had snagged a gig at one of the biggest banks in the country, and thought that was pretty cool.
My first day at work was supposed to be in August 2004. I had waited longingly for this day – looked forward to their final confirmation of when I was to start. The day finally came, August 24th. I was set to begin my life.
As I entered the huge sky-scrapper, shiny with glass windows and doors, I felt even better. Each step I took toward the room where all the new joiners were to gather, I felt prouder. “Yes, this is my tribe. This is my place,” I thought.
Then something unlikely happened. After 4 hours of orientation by someone from the HR team, I started feeling a little bit nervous. Something felt unsettling. The more I listened to the trainer, the more this unsettling feeling grew.
I felt it in my chest. It grew larger and larger until they announced – “It’s time for lunch”.
Lunch was no usual affair. This was a huge, massive organisation and there were many different queues and mini-outlets. The food court floor could hold thousands of people.
There were fresh fruit baskets, pastries, crepes and what not. It seemed over the top.
“I have to go to the rest room”. I excused myself from our group of wide-eyed, wonder-filled fellow new joiners and rushed toward the ladies room.
As I opened the door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The rest room was impeccably clean (you have to remember this was in Mumbai, India, so when I say impeccably, I mean five-star clean). It had a leather sofa and a lounge-like look.
It was so perfect it felt wrong.
I couldn’t take it. That unsettling feeling grew by the hour. It just wouldn’t go.
When it was time to go home, I vowed I was going to love it tomorrow when the real work begins. Today was just an induction. We hadn’t even seen our real office cubicles yet.
On day two, I hit the elevator button “Floor 9”. I was dressed smartly and tried to look confident. I took a quick look at myself in the mirror, and smiled nervously. It was going to be all OK.
As I entered my “space” I saw two others sharing the bay – a lady dressed in simple Indian wear and a gentleman in formal shirt and pants. I knew they were my immediate team members.
As the day went on, I tried to build a rapport with the two of them. The lady handed me a massive folder and asked me to read it to get an understanding of what I was to do. The gentleman was smiling a little too much whenever I looked at him.
In hindsight, they were good people, overall.
That day, I came home and announced I was never going back.
Was I crazy?
Why would I kick a job that everyone thought was amazing?
Despite the undeniable “amazingness” of this gig, I didn’t feel at comfort. Has that happened with you? You enter into a new business, a new relationship or move into a new house only to get a feeling of something is not right?
There – hold that feeling. I felt the same. Trying to dissect it was futile. It wasn’t until years after ditching that job, I realised why I was not cut out for it.
That five-star setting was going to make it even harder to quit because logic would use it against my heart.
Facing the true self
The number one reason I was not happy with a traditional job setting was this: It didn’t satisfy my core needs of freedom and creativity.
If someone asked me what my passion is, I would be dumbfounded. Not because I don’t know which one it is, but because I would have so many that I’d be confused what to answer.
Having multiple passions is not easy. It’s hard work. You are always pulled in different directions. You want to do this, and you want to do that too. And you want to do it all together.
To someone who is more used to the 9-5 lifestyle, this would sound hokum. And if that is you, more power to you!
But if you can relate with me even at some level here, stay.
Because I want to learn so many things and do so much, my head is always brimming with ideas. It is brewing something new each time I tune into it.
It also takes massive amount of energy. You don’t know which side to go. You are tired of hearing the “gurus” who keep suggesting you go and find one passion.
Yes, it probably is more productive to have one passion but what if you just don’t? What do you do then?
Being the Outlier
I truly feel the world is full of amazing, imaginative people who are doing what they love. At least my world is. The people I encounter, my mentors and the places I hang out online testify this.
They’re creating, building awesome things. I used to look at these people and feel jealous. Why couldn’t I do what they are doing? Why was it so hard to find that friggin’ one thing and stick to it and make a living?
To give you a background, after “quitting” that job I worked on for two days, I found another at a software firm. This one was way better because I could relate to the people, it had flexi-timings (gave me freedom) and there was room for some creativity.
But after a while, it got difficult to drag myself out of bed every morning and go to work. I waited for five years for this feeling to go away, and then I quit.
In late 2009, I embraced the fact that I couldn’t do this anymore. I had to follow my entrepreneurial heart. I started a freelance writing business which is still active today, and never looked back until about 2012, when I had an urge of doing something “more”. That more was studying the deepest secrets of human behaviour, which I did.
Then I wanted to become a trainer and speaker. So I did that. Then I wanted to start a personal development website. Did that too. Now I am into writing ebooks. Soon enough I would have done that too.
You see, every time I was pursuing one of these things, I had one eye on what’s next. It was this persistent urge of what’s more I could learn and contribute toward. My curiosity had no bounds.
I was an outlier in a mob of single-focused, passionate people.
Finding my Real Tribe
If you’ve felt like you have your feet in way too many things but you cannot let go of any of it, you’re finally at the right place, reading the exact thing you’re supposed to be.
For people like you and me, there exists a name. When I discovered this name and that there were others like me, it all made sense.
The term for someone who has so many things going on at once in their lives and they are equally passionate about these is a multipotentialite.
More terms are scanner, multipod, slasher.
You take a pick. It’s all the same.
When I found my real place in the universe, I started building things at an even faster rate. I created websites, helped with marketing, wrote a lot (I mean a LOT – my hands hurt).
I figured a way to combine all my passions (technology, online marketing, personal development, writing, editing, helping people with real life issues, hosting workshops and speaking) and make a living out of it.
Today, I live that life.
The society tells us to do that one thing and master it. It essentially asks us to forget about everything else, or to juggle the other passions during weekends. That’s when you have an executive who lives for just the weekend.
Why would you ever do that?
For me, it hasn’t been an easy ride, but it has been so worth it. How do I know? I know because when I will be sitting on a rocking chair in my late 80’s, I will know this was a life time well spent.
The Rocking Chair Test
Do yourself a favour. Do the rocking test and picture yourself in your favourite rocking chair in your 80’s.
Look back and reflect on what you were doing when you were your present age. How do you feel about it? If there is any form of discomfort, you know what to do.
Really figure out how you can turn things around for better. It is no mumbo-jumbo – it is a way of nature. You cannot get back the moments you are spending on doing meaningless work that doesn’t contribute to your deepest desires.
Every problem has a solution. The problem is, we focus too much on the problem instead of a solution. Make sense?
If you’d like to discuss this further, get in touch. I am always happy to indulge in multipotentialite talks and to help.
Great, now go ahead, build, create and live your life.
Photo by Bhumika Bhatia