Do you have a hard time limiting yourself to just a few of the exciting things life has to offer? OR do you find yourself wanting to do and live it all?
When somebody asks “What do you do” or “Tell me about yourself,” do struggle narrowing your answer down into a neat, little, one-word answer?
Have you developed a level of mastery and a passion for several things?
Do you feel oppressed by a world that sends the message you must be an expert in one thing in order to be successful?
Because of this, are there parts of you pushed deep down inside that are literally dying to be expressed?
When we are young society encourages us to ponder all the possibilities of who we want to be or what we want to do. But very soon after we are ‘grown up,’ we are expected to have narrowed it down to one subject and our natural, multifaceted selves are filed down into one facet.
Even our new ‘enlightened’ society says you can find your purpose, follow your passion, and live the life you want! But if you are like me, this feels like a trap. Only ONE purpose? ONE passion?
It was 1976, I was 8 years old watching the Winter Olympics with my grandmother. We were watching Figure Skating and I was in awe of Dorothy Hamill: her grace, her skill, her power, her haircut! I must have wondered aloud how it was she could be like that and do those amazing things on ice.
“She has spent hour upon hour practicing…” my grandmother said, without taking her eyes of Dorothy’s performance, “day after day. She has given up other things, like time with her friends, dance classes, reading, swimming, and focused most, if not all, of her energy into this. She must really love to ice skate.”
Then she looked at me and my grandmother turned it around, “Which would you rather be? An Olympic Gold Medalist in one sport… the best of the best in one thing or really good in a lot of things?”
I knew the answer right away. I wanted to try everything!
And I have! But, truth be told, sometimes I regret that.
I am a writer, an artist, a photographer, fitness instructor, transformational life coach, teacher, healer, holistic theologist, metaphysical adventurer, mother, and 911 dispatcher. And that’s just in the present! I’ve been a singer, graphic designer, public speaker, intelligence analyst, world traveler… SHEESH! I can’t even list it all!
I have done them all very well. I have made an income at most of them. But what do I say at a dinner party when someone asks what I do? What do I put as my title on my business card? I tell you, my LinkedIn looks like I’m a spaz.
I often feel judged, like I am wishy-washy, flighty, a jack-of-all-trades/master of none… that because of my eclectic and overflowing interests, I am not a legitimate professional at any of them.
I am often jealous of the people grew up knowing exactly what they wanted to do, who pursued it with passion and whose lives followed fairly neatly along that path. I have spent so many years trying to box all my passions into a neat marketable package, and that has cost me in creativity and joy.
But no more!!!!
I am embracing my new Life Title.
Take a walk on the Wiki and read about the Polymath:
The term is often used to describe great thinkers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment who excelled at several fields in science and the arts. The idea of the polymath was summed up by Leon Battista Alberti when he stated “a man can do all things if he will.”
A basic tenet of Renaissance humanism is that humans are limitless in their capacity for development. This concept led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. The term “Renaissance man” was often applied to the gifted people of that era who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social and physical.
Can you relate?
Do you think you may be a multi-talented, experience embracing, modern-day Renaissance Human?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I figured out what I want to be when I grow up?
- Do I feel ashamed, scattered, unfocused or fickle about my inability or unwillingness to choose my one thing.
- Do I feel like a fraud, even though I have developed a level of mastery in a variety of different areas?
- Does the idea of being in one field of employment or profession make me feel suffocated?
- Do I love variety? Thrive on freedom? Crave diversity?
- Do I seek out the new? Do I strive to grow?
Then you might be a Renaissance Human!
If embraced and directed in the right way, your renaissance personality could move you from feeling stuck to vibrantly inspired.
Think of all the men and woman who embraced their multidimensionality.
Ben Franklin: a politician, inventor, scientist, writer, and musician.
Galileo: an astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician
Leonardo DaVinci: an inventor, sculptor, painter, philosopher, poet, architect, engineer, physician, writer, stage designer, theologist, astronomer, actor, singer, court jester and more.
Thomas Jefferson: an architect, author, lawyer, musician, botanist, inventor, philosopher, political theorist and naturalist.
And how about today?
Bono? Oprah? Angelina Jolie? Maya Angelou? Anthony Bourdain? Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? Elon Musk? You?!
As renaissance men and women we need to honor ALL of our passions. We must embrace our quest for knowledge and our thirst for experience. You can do all that interests you. You can do all of them well.
Yes, it does take balancing, especially in our busy, modern times. But how incredibly fulfilling it will be to channel ALL our loves into meaningful work–a meaningful life.