Across the U.S. Canadian border, DARLA was able to connect with Emilie Wapnick — Author and Career Coach who introduced us to the lifestyle of being a multipotenialite with her new book, How To Be Everything. Emilie is the Creator of, Puttylike, an online community that provides creatives with networking opportunities, real insight, and resources for pursuing multifaceted careers. In 2015, Emilie presented a popular Ted Talk piece about the concept of multipotenitalites and why it’s important to acknowledge them as individuals who can contribute great things to the world.
Now, you may be wondering… What is a multipotentialite? And it’s exactly what it sounds like (multi-potential-ite); a person who has potential to be successful in multiple areas. It could be someone who is a Boss, Artist, Writer, Stylist, Wanderer, and Lover all at once.
How To Be Everything is an empowering guide for those of us who aren’t considered to be serious, consistent workers in society due to our inabilities to narrow our career goals down to one specific field. Rather than normalizing the pressure to answer, subconsciously, life-defining questions such as, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” as early as age 5, or to commit to a specific career path at age 17… How To Be Everything encourages us to explore different approaches that will better satisfy our needs as creatives with multiple interests. This book is for the kind of people who can’t choose just one path because they aspire to be Art Directors + Restaurant Owners + Teachers + Best-Selling Authors + more all in this lifetime; why not try to be everything we have the potential to be?
The stories, lessons, and exercises featured in How To Be Everything walk us through the process of understanding who we are, what we want to do with our lives, and how to achieve it with money, meaning, and variety. Emile Wapnick’s motive behind creating this book was to provide a resource for multipotenitlaites with unconventional goals to become successful in unconventional (yet, realistic) ways. It’s for sure, made a valuable contribution to my book collection and I think you’ll appreciate it, too!
How To Be Everything will be available in book stores and online as of May 2nd. Check out DARLA’s exclusive interview with Emilie Wapnick below + you can follow her work on Twitter, Instagram, and Puttylike.com.
How would you define, “multipotentialite”?
A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits. It’s basically being curious about a number of unrelated subjects.
What inspired you to create your website, Puttylike?
I was, partly, solving my own problems when I started [Puttylike.com] because I had a lot of passions and projects; I studied and worked in multiple fields and I really worried about that because I didn’t know how I was going to turn that into a career. I thought that I’d eventually have to pick one thing, deny all of my other passions, and just kind of resign myself to being bored. There was a point in my mid-20’s when I just decided, if this is how I’m wired, instead of just picking one thing and trying to fit myself into a box… What if I could find a way to build a life and career around my many passions so that I can explore many things and also have financial stability at the same time? I started to wonder — Are there other people out there who are this way? Are there other people who are doing many things that are successful? Can I learn from them? In 2010, I started blogging about this and began sharing what I was learning on the blog. I wanted to solve my own problems and I also wanted to help other people who might be struggling with similar things. I had this idea that we could create an online community of people who don’t want to do just one thing, and we could support each other and share resources; figure out how to make it work together.
The exercises in How To Be Everything encourage multipotentialites to not only design a career, but a life they are happy with. Why do you feel its important to design a life that’s a true reflection of self?
I don’t think you’ll be happy if you just do what’s expected of you and go along with the specialist life plan that we’ve all grown up being taught to follow. That plan suggests that the right thing to do, and the way to be successful is to pick a specialty and just go really deep into that one thing. I feel like if you’re a multipotentialite, that’s just not going to work for you. I get emails from people of all ages, including people who are in their 60’s, who tell me they’ve tried to specialize and fit themselves into a box and they were miserable because it was really difficult to do. Now, they want to start embracing their many passions. I think that the problem for multipotentialites isn’t really that we aren’t able to have successful careers, I think that there is a lack of resources and role models out there. The traditional career advice says to asses your aptitude, strengths, skills, and passions and narrow it down to that one perfect fit. That model just doesn’t work for some of us; we need another approach. One of my motivations for writing the book was just to provide a different way to do things so that we can have careers that are more aligned with how we’re wired.
What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself in need of motivation and courage to begin pursuing your dream career?
I spent a lot of time trying to not stand out and kind of “be normal,” and at the same time there was this sense of creativity inside of me that really wanted to come out. I think I would tell my younger self to (advice a teacher gave me that I would pass on), “Feature the things that make you unique.” I feel like I hid all of that. I minimized my many projects and passions; I tried not to think about how I was different and how I wanted to do so many different things and, instead, focused more on trying to fit in. I really think the key to being happy, contributing to the world, and making a difference is to take those things that make you really special and unique and to feature them, lead with them, and put them out into the world. That’s the stuff that’s going to make you stand out.
DARLA focuses on how creatives use their real lifestyle as a guide to achieving their dream careers and/or personal goals. Do you feel your lifestyle contributes to your work? If so, how?
Yeah, definitely. It’s hard for me to pull apart my lifestyle from my work because they’re so integrated. I feel like I chose to work for myself with an online business, which may change in the future (maybe I’ll work for a cool company, maybe I’ll have a brick and mortar business)… I don’t know where I’m going to be in 10 years, which is a beautiful thing about being a multipotenialite. Right now, I feel like I chose a lifestyle and career that provides me with a lot of freedom and flexibility; I can work from anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection. It’s pretty low stress (except for right now since I’m in the process of launching a book), but in general I don’t have to be in a high-stress environment or in an office for eight hours a day; an environment that I don’t think I could thrive in. I’m pretty independent, I don’t like people telling me what to do, so I feel like the career that I chose for now works well.
If you had to come up with a formula that you believe would change the world, what would you use?
When multipotenitalites embrace their plurality, it not only leads to happiness and a more genuine life where you get to express your whole self, but also, I feel like it makes the world a better place. We’re really good at looking at problems from multiple angles because we have backgrounds and acquired skills from different areas. I feel like that’s the answer to solving the big, complex problems in the world — innovating, putting new arts into place, and making social contributions. If multipotentialites embrace their many passions instead of picking one and stifling the others, I feel like it would make the world a better place.
How would you spend an ideal Sunday?
I like variety, so it depends (my answer may change depending on what kind of mood I’m in and what I’ve been doing). Right now, I really like nature; I’m currently living on an island in Canada… So maybe going on a hike. Hanging out with my wife, my dog, and maybe some friends; make a fire. Also possibly do something creative like play music, paint, and write.
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