Embrace The Polymath


I love learning new things.

It’s part of my psyche.

It’s also one of the reasons I’ve never held the same job for more than a couple of years.

If I’m not trying to wrap my brain around fresh challenges, I get bored. Quickly. Once it becomes the same-old-same-old, my brain is on the hunt for something new.

Very much like Johnny 5.

“More input!” via GIPHY

Some people collect tchotchkes. I collect knowledge and skills.

For a long time, I viewed this as a problem.

What’s wrong with me?

Why do I keep bouncing from one thing to the next?

Why can’t I just pick one thing and stay there?

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the idea of the polymath, or as Emilie Wapnick calls it, the Multipotentialite. Her Tedx Talk, “Why Some of us Don’t Have One True Calling,” completely shifted my perspective.

See, Emilie is a lot like me. But she doesn’t lament the fact that she is “someone with many interests and creative pursuits” (her definition of multipotentialite). Instead, she embraces it, and encourages others, both multipotentialites and specialists, to do the same.

I finished watching her Tedx Talk and immediately called the hubs. “This is me! She’s explaining me!”

And at that moment, like the Great Introvert Revelation of the past decade, I felt confident enough to stand and say: Yes. This is who I am. And it’s a good thing.

I think that’s why I enjoy writing so much. It sits at that rare intersection of short-term and long-term pursuits. Each project is new. Each has its own challenges and rewards. Each has its own story, and, one of my favorite parts, its own research. I can follow my curiosity wherever it leads. (And if you follow my Perception Pinterest board, you know it’s wandered into the realm of apiculture.)

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.

~C. S. Lewis

Who am I to argue with the man?

What about you? Are you a polymath, or have you found your one true calling?

(You can read more about Emilie Wapnick and her ideas about multipotentiality at her website, Puttylike.com, or click here to watch her Tedx Talk.)

3 thoughts on “Embrace The Polymath

  1. J. E. Martin Reply

    Wow, thanks for sharing.
    What a great talk–and boy, does that sound familiar!

    • A.K.R. Scott Post authorReply

      It’s such an awesome talk. And I think there are probably a ton of people out there who need to hear what she’s saying. It kind of runs opposite of what’s traditionally expected, so it’s nice to hear someone say, “No, it really is good!”

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