I’ve felt different ever since I can remember. Always on the outside because I saw life through a lens all my own. I wanted to learn about everything. Especially about how things worked.
I once carried home a broken old transistor radio I pulled out of someone’s trash because I wanted to know what was inside. I was eight. The other kids thought I was crazy. Mom just shook her head.
Before being a Renaissance Soul was a thing…
Here’s how a conversation about picking a college major went…
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“I’m good at writing and history and biology and geology and geography and languages and…..”
“Well, what are you interested in?”
“History and art and journalism and museums and archaeology, and quantum physics and poetry and music and ….”
“Well, you have to be practical. What are you good at that you can make money doing?”
I picked journalism. Because is wasn’t what a girl usually did and that seemed to fit with feeling like an outsider. Because I loved to write. Because the deadline was looming and I had to. Because I felt so guilty about the worry in my parents eyes.
I felt like I had to pick one thing and sound like I would stick with it because that’s what the adults needed me to do. For me, I kept hoping if I picked one thing and convinced myself I was committed to it then maybe I would stop feeling … outside.
Heading to college a few months later, I was miserable and terrified inside and all confidence and bluster on the outside. I made it through my first semester before I switched majors.
Why can’t I pick one thing and stick with it?
I spent the next thirty years trying to pick one thing and become it’s barnacle. Selling alternator and starter parts to automotive rebuilders? Hell yes! I can make that my thing! Executive Assistant to the President at a personnel agency? Of course! Marketing Specialist for an auto parts company? I’m your girl.
No matter how hard I ignored it, or how many stern lectures my inner critic spat, eventually boredom and intense anxiety always popped my little barnacle self off the hull of whatever the current job was.
Then I’d be adrift, even more convinced that there was something wrong with me. Worried about what my parents and friends would think. Worried about worrying them. Worried I would never find “the thing” I could dutifully stick to forever.
I’m a multipotential-what?
In those years, I didn’t understand how my brain worked. Only that it worked differently and that seemed to translate to me being weird. Or broken.
Then, a counselor friend suggested I read the book “The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life” by Margaret Lobenstein.
It took two readings separated by 5 years, but I finally made sense to myself. Feeling different made sense. My boredom made sense. My endless curiosity made sense.
There was, and is, nothing wrong with me. I simply see the world through the multi-focal lenses of multipotentialism. I now see strengths and intriguing capacities in traits that felt like failings. Now, feeling unique doesn’t make me feel like an outsider.