What do you want to be when you grow up?

This photo was taken somewhere between 2001 and 2005 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

Do you remember how old you were when you were first asked the question:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I personally cannot remember the exact age but I can clearly remember that when I wanted to be an actress or a TV presenter. I also used to keep diaries and write down my experiences for long periods of time. At a certain point, I was convinced I would follow my mother’s path and become a pharmacist, so I spent a few years following extra chemistry and biology classes. I have also considered continuing my education in a professional sports school, studying kinesiotherapy and even joining the police academy.

Years later, when I graduated high school, I often had difficulties settling down for one specific field of study. I chose for broad study programs such as International Business and Management and Strategic Management, so I wouldn’t feel limited in my career options later on.

For me, the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ has often implied one possible answer where some of us might have more than one passion or interest. I personally feel that there is no one single thing I want to do all my life. I get excited about doing something new, challenging myself, getting out of my comfort zone. If I were to dive too deep in one area of interest that would mean that I wouldn’t have time to explore many new options.

As this question has caused quite some anxiety for me over the years, I could finally find peace with it after watching the TEDxBend talk of Emilie Wapnick on the topic: “Why Some of us Don’t Have One True Calling”.

Emilie helped me discover the world of being a Multipotentialite and the benefits of it. A Multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits. I finally realized that I was not the only one. And more importantly, there was nothing wrong with me.

Please don’t get me wrong, it is not that I claim to be good or professional at any of my areas of interest. I have just realized that it will be hard for me to be happy and fully satisfied by doing just one thing, even if I become the most knowledgeable and experienced person on the topic. I simply enjoy the interaction with people with different backgrounds, interests or lifestyles. This broadens my perspective and helps me to combine ideas and bring novelties from one industry to another.

Besides being a project manager and enjoying guiding our clients through the implementation of a new ATS and CRM system, I divide my free time between doing yoga and meditations, reading and writing about self-improvement and inspiration, volunteering and since very recently practicing public speaking.

We often settle down for a career in a certain direction because it is not common (or at least it used to be rarer) to meet people who are combining many different passions in their career.

Why cannot I be the project manager who works in IT and writes about life at the same time?

I bet that a similar kind of question has caused some of you some anxiety as well at a certain period of your life. It doesn’t matter how crazy your passions and interests might be. Whether you are an aerospace engineer who sings in a professional choir or a biochemical scientist who writes poetry, embracing all your passions is important for your happiness and well-being.

I certainly have a few tips and ideas on how to manage to do it all in the limited amount of time that we have, but I will save that for another article. At this moment I encourage you to first take the time to figure out:

What do you want to be when you grow up?
What are your deepest passions and true areas of interests?
Are you allowing yourself to pursue all your passions no matter how divers they might be?

I believe it is perfectly fine to switch careers, to have two or three completely different part-time jobs or to simply practice your passion as a hobby or as a volunteer in your free time? It is all fine as long as you are following your heart.

If I would have to answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up” right now I would simply say:

I want to be HAPPY

Isn’t that what matters at the end?

No matter what you do or how you do it as long as you do what is dear to you and it makes you happy, then this is the right thing to do. I believe that the simplest (not easiest but simplest) way to achieve happiness is to just:

BE YOURSELF.
AT ALL TIMES.
AT ALL COSTS.

I don’t simply mean your job, your hobbies or interests that are trendy might earn you money or fame in the future but the interests and passions that come truly from your heart because they are what makes you, YOU.

You most probably already know the answer by now but in case you are curious to find out whether you are also a multipotentialite, you can take the quiz.

Should you want to read more on the topic, feel free to read Emilie Wapnick’s book on How to be everything or visit her website for more articles on the topic. I strongly recommend you also her article on the topic: Career Advice for My 20-Year-Old Self, especially if you are in your 20s!

On a final note, I would like to add that there is, of course, nothing wrong with being a specialist and wanting to devote your whole life to one single area of interest. If this is how you feel and if what you are doing is fulfilling enough, please do so! The world needs you, too!