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The Multi-passionate Dilemma

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Maybe, like me, the question you got growing up was “what do you want to be?” or “what do you want to do when you grow up?” The message I internalized from that was: “Pick one thing,” “niche down,” find “the one” (occupationally speaking). This felt like an impossible task because I liked so many things. I didn’t want to find a tiny corner of the world and remain, I wanted to explore and keep exploring and maybe become a frequent visitor to lots of tiny corners.

I figured with time, my interests would whittle down, but when they didn’t, and when I learned of new potential hobbies (hello pottery, linocut printing, and embroidery) I developed a lot of shame around not “settling down” preferring to do everything, everywhere, all at once.

I saw my “shiny new interest” syndrome as a weakness that was preventing me from becoming truly exceptional at one specific thing. Since being diagnosed with ADHD and learning about how dopamine essentially runs my life, I’ve been slowly unpacking the neurotypical narrative I was fed my whole life. Could being so dang curious to try everything actually be a strength?

When I first heard the term “multi-passionate” something clicked. It’s a word that neatly packaged up my interests that would otherwise come across as chaotic and flakey, and made them understandable. My “one thing” is doing LOTS of things. Yes, I can be a musician, yes, I can be a floral artist, yes I can be a poet. Even though I’m not the leading expert in any of those areas (ha!), does that de-legitimize the fact that those are things I am doing? Nope. I am not a business: tidy, easily branded, singularly focussed; I am a human: messy, likely to change and grow (hooray).

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