“What if you are passionate about more than one thing?”
Months ago I posted an article titled “Know Yourself”. I talked about how it is important to know who you are in order to know where you are going. I also highlighted the importance of doing meaningful exploration if you do not yet know who you are and what you like. Try out different things you are drawn to and you will discover yourself along the way.
After that post, my dear friend Fabiola wrote to me and asked a number of questions and we proceeded to have a lengthy conversation. Allow me to paraphrase the first question she asked: what if you are passionate about more than one thing?
So, what if you like more than one thing? What if you are genuinely interested in a vast assortment of fields that may not even be directly interrelated at all? What if you feel passionate about all these things? Then what? Is there something wrong with you?
I bring extremely good news to you: you are perfectly normal.
While growing up, I wondered a great deal what I would be when I grew up. At the age of about 8, I wanted to be a professional singer. I composed my first poem cum song at that age and I still remember the tune to it, to this day.
I also wanted to be a TV show presenter. I still remember standing in front of the mirror pretending I was presenting a show. I admired TV show presenters and practiced things they’d say and do. In the girls’ room, alone, I’d tie a headscarf and either let it fall or put it in a bun (TV show presenters did not have short hair) and then I’d wear something really nice and pose in front of the mirror. In my little head I’d hear 1,2,3 action! and the words would come out of my lips…
“Goodmorning dear viewers, we are happy to have you here with us today. We have a packed show ahead for you filled with …”
I’d rumble on and on, and even take commercial breaks in between show sections. (😆😆😆😆😆).
I was generally a very artsy kid and loved to draw, read, build legos, dance, sing and so on. I still remember trying to form a kids music band with my family friends. I’d carry a radio to their home and make them listen to different songs. We recorded ourselves on empty tapes too using those black radios with tape recorders. I wonder where those tapes went….
It is very surprising therefore how in the world, at one point, I wanted to be a doctor and I carried that thought with me all the way to form three when I discovered that frog-dissecting happened in A-level Biology. I quickly decided I wasn’t down for that. Plus I really struggled with Sciences in O’level, albeit passing them well eventually.
It was in form three though when I remembered I had once drawn the house we lived in, in my primary years. One day, with no supervision and no obligation, I had taken my sketchbook and a ruler and sat in front of my home and sketched a front elevation! One of my brothers found the sketch and was pleasantly shocked and surprised. He mentioned a word I would remember in form three – architect!
Fast forward to university, I studied Architecture with a passion and I loved the journey but something else begun to happen in me. I realized, I couldn’t ignore my other interests. They were like spirits that followed me. I still loved poetry and found immense fulfillment when I wrote. Plus I loved to sing with everything in me! Unable to ignore them, I told myself that I could treat them as hobbies. The plan was that once I was done with uni, I would “sober up”, become serious and be the exclusive architect.
So, you can imagine my confusion when in my fourth year of Architecture school I discovered another deep interest and passion – fashion! The poetry and music were not wearing off and now I had a new baby on board! In addition to this, I sold jewelry and clothes in school right from my second year all through to the end of university and guess what? I realized I actually enjoyed trading! So it turned out that in addition to all the above, I developed a passion and curiosity towards business! And that’s not all, I had an interest in a number of other things too such as blogging and photography, playing guitar and so on.
In consolation, I told myself that these could be side-things. After all, I was an architect! Period! The plan was to find a way to keep these things as my “side guys”.
The anxiety I felt over having multiple interests was magnified even more when I dated a man who was very confused by my eclectic nature and did not understand how my “side-things” featured in the whole grand and prestigious Architecture plan. To cut him some slack, neither did I. All I knew was that I couldn’t avoid my side-things. I subconsciously expected that I would stop at some point though and that I’d wake up and be “cured” from some of my interests, and put them up on a shelf like trophies to be looked at in the future as the things of my youth.
This anxiety was further intensified when while at a business conference organized for students, I put up my hand to ask a very genuine question.
I asked, “What if you have more than one passion and you are truly gifted and good at more than one thing? Is it possible to do multiple businesses and multiple activities and still be successful?” The answer I got was simple and straightforward – no! I was told I should just abandon all my others ideas and choose one and focus on it. Period!
Over the next few years I tried to suppress the different things I love and focus mainly on one thing – Architecture, but I often found myself unfulfilled and seeking solace in the other things I loved. During that time, I remember feeling like I was a different person at open mic nights and wondered if the lady I was in the office was the same as the one who performed poetry on stage.
On one beautiful day while hanging out with my poetry buddies, I remember telling my friend Nancy how it is unfortunate that everything I do outside the office, such as poetry would never get on to my CV and how it was basically pointless. I felt hopeless. She grilled me and told me to put all of my eclectic nature on my CV – “by all means” she said. I thank God for such friends.
See, the problem was not that I disliked Architecture. I loved and still love Architecture. The problem was that I was trying to be only one thing and I thought it was a crime to be more and yet, I was not innately wired to be only one thing.
Over time I have learnt that there are many other people like me and we can be successful in a myriad of things. Fast-forward to today, I love all of my “things”. I love that I am passionate about so many things and I have learnt that there is actually nothing wrong with me. I am what they call a multi-potentialite. I learnt this from a TED talk by Emilie Wapnick. Feel free to watch it after this. She talks about the dilemma of being a multi-potentialite in a society where “one true calling” is romanticized. She says it is okay to have diverse interests and there are actually benefits to being deeply interested in many things.
God did not give you all those talents and interests by mistake or frivolously.
In short, there is nothing wrong with you if you have many interests, even if the interests are unrelated. For example Fabiola is a passionate lawyer who loves to draw, paint and write poetry, and yes, she is good at all these things. And you know what? That is unique and beautiful!
We are all created with unique abilities set in different backgrounds and characterized by different stories. It is our different stories that set a backdrop for our unique journeys in life.
Some people genuinely want to be only one thing and are content with that. They are specialists by nature and that is perfectly okay. However, those of us who love to do more than one thing are normal too and we can make it in this world too, in all our shades of colour.
After getting comfortable with your eclectic nature and knowing you are perfectly normal, the next thing is to answer the following questions: which of your passions are you most serious about? Which ones do you want to make a living out of? Which are most important to you and why? Which ones have the biggest intersection between passion and ability? How do you succeed in all of your passions?
In the next parts of this series, I will be exploring each one of these questions in-depth. So watch out for a new post each week on Sunday evenings. Join me on this journey. Like and share this post. It could help someone who is in a state of quagmire.
I dedicate this series to Fabiola and all the other multi-potentialites out there. You are special and unique and your story will be as dynamic and beautiful as your journey. Seek not to be understood by other people. Only seek to be happy and be ALL GOD CREATED YOU TO BE! Commit to yourself and your unique nature.
With love, Keziah Elaine Ayikoru.
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