What a stoopid question!
How many times were you asked this question before you could tie your own shoelaces? And what was your answer? As little girls our options were pretty limited; a nurse, a teacher, a vet…
Hands up if you ever answered, “Well Auntie Bridín, my interest in the erosion of the polar ice caps combined with my natural ability to decipher statistics would entice me to become an environmental analyst, but I also aim to get involved in social activism and political lobbying.”
Ask any adult when they knew that they wanted to be the thing that they now are and most will say they didn’t. Some will even say that they still haven’t figured it out yet, they just fell into a certain field and are coasting along until it figures itself out.
Why are we expected to commit to one thing from such a young age? Why put all our eggs in one basket? Some of us have multiple interests and want to be given the freedom to explore them all. And encouraging this means that we have some hugely accomplished people who have carved out a place in this world that brings out everything they love, everything they are good at, and everything that the world needs; like talented photographers who travel the world highlighting the plight of refugees because they believe in social justice, or programmers who can run multinational companies because they also have a “head for business”, or what about the lady who creates the worlds most amazing ice-cream, and also created a machine to inject the perfect amount of vanilla?
Are we so busy trying to find our “thing” that our “thing” doesn’t get the chance to find us?
In her amazing TED Talk (watch below), writer and artist Emilie Wapnick calls these people “multipotentialites” or people who have a range of jobs and interests throughout their life. If you have known your whole life that you want to be an accountant, more power to you, but the world also needs people with a broad view of the world. We need them to weave it all together.
Have a look at Emilie’s talk below, and if you’re anxious because you think you should have it all figured out by now, relax. Do what makes you happy, continue to learn, and try new things until it all clicks into place. And it will, eventually. We promise.