Earlier this month I was updating my website and looking for a word or phrase (key words for SEO) to describe what I do as a creative who works in multiple fields (in my case, writing, music, and various visual arts including photography). I had entered this phrase into Google:
“What do you call someone who works in multiple arts?”
And up popped a word I had never heard before: “multipotentiality.”
Discovering this, frankly, blew my mind.
Multipotentiality (according to Wikipedia) refers to "the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields.”
It can also refer to someone who has interests in multiple, often unrelated, fields.
The term was initially coined under the auspices of educational research done into “gifted” individuals as early as 1972. I love and relate to what researcher Tamara Fisher said in her paper “Multipotentiality – Unwrapping the Gifted” in Education Week in 2010:
“Multipotentiality is the state of having many exceptional talents, any one or more of which could make a great career for that person.”
My head exploded. I thought to myself, “You mean there are others out there—possibly many others—who are like me? And there’s actually a term for it?
I dove in deep, as individuals with multipotentiality often do, to investigate further. The more research I did, the more I was convinced that I indeed am a “multipotentialite,” a term popularized by Emilie Wapnick in her TED Talk and explained in her book How to Be Everything.
In a world, where we are often encouraged—and rewarded—to specialize, it is important for multipotentialites to both accept ourselves for how we are uniquely wired and be appreciated by others for the unique set of skills we bring to the world.
I will be sharing a lot of more about my journey of self-discovery as a multipotentialite (or multi-career creative, a term I personally coined that I think more accurately describes me) in this blog and on social media in the upcoming months. I hope you will join me!
How about you? Are you familiar with this term? Can you, or do you, identify as a multipotentialite? What has been your journey? Please comment below!