All Things British, Career, Culture, Perspectives

Why I call myself a multipotentialite

The multipotentialite label. I only learned this term the other day when my friend said she was one of these. I was like, “you’re a what?!” After reading about it online, it took about 2 seconds to confirm I was one too! In short, it’s someone who has many talents, interests and dabbles in different areas and projects unlike specialists who tend to, well, specialise in one set area. Multipotentialiates make for good connectors; we tend to have contacts in so many random fields that when asked, we can point others to particular specialists and in the right direction! If we were an underground map, I guess we would be the tube lines connecting people to the stations (specialists) and yeah, we sometimes change or swap lines from time to time for repairs or new works which can upset a few people that come to depend and rely on us. 😉 Sorry about that! #sorrynotsorry

I would agree with some of Wikipedia’s explanations on the term ‘multipotentiality’: curiosity to try new things or boredom once the desired level of knowledge in that field has been reached. But there are a lot of negative traits there too and not all of those fit me. I decided however, regarding the positive aspects, multipotentialite was a close fitting label. If Leonardo Da Vinci, Aristotle, Sir Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin among others have been classed as multipotentialites then I’m very happy to plonk myself in that category too!

I don’t like labels usually. I hate that society forces us or makes us feel compelled to wear them, from clothing, our skin colour, right down to job descriptions. (Watch Prince Ea’s fantastic video above! I love it!) That we are supposed to be able to summarise ourselves in less than three words like an advertising slogan. As if we haven’t time to get to know people anymore, obtaining just a quick slogan summarising you is enough, then time to move on. People are far more complex than that. People are fascinating, talented and creative creatures. It’s hard to define yourself, especially if you’re like me and constantly change and evolve. But, in a tongue in cheek way of playing the label game, I decided I’m a self-confessed multipotentialite entrepreneur. Sounds kind of swanky doesn’t it?! I made that up! In a world where we exaggerate on our CVs, overload on hyperbole and superlatives, constantly tell white lies to impress to get the job and strive to be seen as the best, that term sounds impressively grandiose! I’ll take it! But really, I’m just me. Just one label: Charlemagne.

The competition for jobs, fame, and popularity, whatever you are going after, it is rife and trying to stand out is hard. That’s why I don’t bother anymore. I’m not an ass-kisser. Sorry. My 20’s were about trying to fit in and find that perfect job and no one would give me much of a chance. Now I’m 30, I’m just me, coming into my own, loving my sparkly star shaped self and doing my thing. So I’m finding my own way. Creating my own job. Creating my own chances and opportunities. Doing what I want. Life is too short. I have friends that have master’s degrees, doctorates and are specialists in their field that still cannot find work. It doesn’t matter what qualification you have, you’re either not qualified enough or over qualified or don’t fit the company profile and society is always changing and evolving as is our education and our businesses. Many people give up and think they can’t win. Well that’s not entirely true. You can. But it’s time to adapt and think outside the box!

One of my first memorable stressful situations was at school choosing my options. In the UK, this meant choosing which GCSE and A-level subjects to study. All the grown-ups would tell you that this was the first important step of your career and would determine your future path. They couldn’t have scared me more! What if I chose the wrong path? For a teenager, with crazy hormones (and braces) and trying to be perfect at everything, this was stressful! I was never a gifted, super intelligent girl at one particular subject. I tended to be in the middle of the upper grade boundaries for most subjects, never failed an exam – apart from Maths. I loathed Maths! (Scraped the pass I needed in the end though!) I love learning. I love numerous different topics. I’m not a specialist and I don’t have a particular obsession / desire / interest in just one field. I like a little of everything. I’m an all rounder. Just your average kind of girl. Not crazy smart but not dumb. Not super talented in one field but OK at quite a few things. I get bored. I need constant mental stimulation and creativity. So when I had to choose options at school, it was really hard to decide because I pretty much liked everything and had a good rapport with all my teachers. It got to the point where I wanted to study both Geography and History but they clashed on the timetable, as did French and German and my teachers spent time trying to persuade me why their subject was best. My loyalty to and respect for my teachers pulled at my heartstrings and I ended up crying. What can I say, I’m a people person and like to please. I also have trouble saying no. And to top it off, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I still don’t! At the time, I was considering being a flight attendant or oceanographer, doctor or foreign war correspondent or a linguist. It felt like a huge responsibility trying to decide what you wanted to do for a career when you were 15. My parents told me back then that you would have one career for life. Making that choice at 15 was hard! Overwhelmed is an understatement! I hadn’t seen much of the world either at that point. I just wanted to learn everything! I was a kind of Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter and just needed that time turner necklace! Harry Potter hadn’t even been written though at that time! Damn! Luckily, the internet among another things has changed all that and the world evolved and now it is normal to have more than one job in a lifetime. Phew! So to keep my options open until I could narrow down a career more, where most people studied 2 A-Levels, I studied 3 A-Levels and 2 AS-Levels in the same 2 year time span. My grades were not the best because I stretched myself too thin but I passed them all and was accepted to study German and Russian at Bristol University. I have an Associate’s Degree in German.

A geography teacher once told my mum at parent’s evening that:

Charlemagne shouldn’t worry about the future. She will probably find out that throughout her life her course will change many, many times. And she will end up doing lots of different things and going in all different directions before she finally settles on one thing she likes. And that’s perfectly OK.

And you know what, Ms. Lancashire was absolutely right and those words have helped me through many a tough time. Those words have stuck with me for many, many years and continue to soothe and calm me and I am so grateful for her wisdom. Because in those words, she tells me that:

It’s OK to fail, or try something else, or change direction at any point and time in our lives.

Those words give me courage and faith. She knew me better than I knew myself already at such a young age. She was an amazing teacher!

My journey has indeed been a long roller coaster of a ride with many ups and downs and changing directions every which way and it’s not over yet. Far from it! I am still figuring out where I am going and what I want to do and I love that! I have a list of things that I want to do and ambitions I want to achieve before I die and those are the things that are guiding me and influencing my decisions in my career. Like any ambitious person or fellow multipotentialites, the list is about a mile long! But slowly and surely and in sometimes the most abstract of ways, I’m ticking those things off and my life might appear crazy on the outside and like a hard struggle but every day I am learning so much about myself, about people, about things and subjects that go beyond what school or any University can teach you. And life isn’t how I imagined it to be or how it would all plan out. It’s better and more adventurous! I’ve learned to let go of the rigid timetable and just see what happens! And my glass is always half full, if not overflowing.

I know that I am capable of achieving everything I want to do and have the creative and resourceful knowledge I need to do it. What you put in is what you get out!

I am great at many things. Not the best but I’d firmly say great. I’ve worked a lot of jobs. I’ve worked since I was 13 and never stopped. Never had a break, even during studies I worked. I’ve many, many skills that make me a great employee. If you look on my CV, you won’t see those social, soft and transferable skills. You’ll just see a long list of job descriptions. But when you get to know me, when you find out what I’ve done, who I am and the kind of mentality I possess, and what I can do and am capable of, I’m pretty special! And you’ll go wow! I may not have a Bachelor degree, I may not be in a high paid job with a fancy title, I may earn less than 5,000 EUR a year (at present) and I may have a lot of people that think I’m a failure but I have the freedom to pursue my interests and experiment with my career path and projects. I have time. I have drive. I am positive. I know that I am doing just fine, that I will find my niche at some point and up until then, I’m learning and discovering a vast amount of things, skills and contacts that will all come together and bring me to where I’m supposed to be.

I might not have qualifications that companies like to see but I have experiences galore that have shaped me into the person you see today. I’ve moved 12 times since I was 19. I’ve moved twice to Germany and I know about red tape bureaucracy and embassies. I learned German and Russian. I’ve seen the effects of political corruption first hand in Ukraine. I’ve been to war torn countries like beautiful Lebanon and Ukraine. I’ve had random drunken conversations with local Russians in a desolate poor Russian village. I did a 3 year long distance relationship seeing my partner only once a year for a week at a time. And I’m not saying the other side of England. I was in the UK and he was in Germany! I got married to that partner within 4 weeks of being engaged without family present, without a big white dress, without a cake, without a photographer, without bridesmaids and all the trimmings. I gave up my life in the UK, my friends and family and went to another country to live. I helped raise 45,000 EUR for my friend who had cancer so she could be treated here in Germany whilst working two low-skilled, badly paid jobs in Germany and looking after her as she stayed with me and hubby. (Sadly, she lost her battle.) I helped three businesses get started on their feet by designing logos and marketing materials and teaching them the basics of social media and blogging. I wrote eulogies for my Nana and father and learned how to deal with grief and tragedy. I survived bad relationships. I survived illnesses and health challenges. I’ve fallen out with family and learned to make up. I learned how to never stop loving and being positive even when everything and everyone is against you. I’ve learned not to judge anyone but to be compassionate and honest. I battled an eating disorder and depression in my early 20’s. Even when I had no money, I still managed to make my best friend’s wedding and be her maid of honour. I’ve learned to fall down and get back up many times. I’ve learned the art of letting go and simplicity. I’ve learned never to give up even after 100 job rejections and some. I learned to appreciate my friends and love them and be thankful for them. I wrote an e-book. I started three websites and a food blog teaching myself basic HTML and online marketing. I danced competitions, won trophies and passed dance exams. I used to be in a swim team as a kid, can rescue you if you’re drowning and I once took a day’s fencing course! I know how to work in retail and in supermarkets both in the UK and in Germany, in offices, in banks, in pharmacies, in bars, in restaurants, in marketing, in graphic design, in proofreading, in translation, in teaching and more. I know how to be self employed and run my own business and how to do taxes even! I not only know those jobs but the skills that are needed in those. I understand people. I have common sense and know how and when to be tactful. I can read between the lines and people’s body language. I am honest, committed and courageous. I can drive both on the right and the wrong sides of the road 😉 and got my license at 19 and never had points on it! I’ve won numerous awards at school for my studies, and had articles published online and in print. I’m an angel volunteer and write letters to US troops (Soldiers’ Angels organisation) to remind them they are loved and that they are important and matter. I’m a proud supporter of both the US and UK military. I always try to make time for a friend or stranger in need because we need more love in this world regardless of political or religious beliefs, our ages, cultures, genders or backgrounds and education. There are a million more things I could tell you about me that make me pretty amazing and I’m sure you could tell me some incredible things about you too! We’re all fabulous in our own ways!

I’m not big headed and I’m not the best at everything. I’m humble enough to know that I’m not better than anybody but I’m wise enough to know that I’m different from the rest and I just try to be the best version of me I can be!

I love who I am and who I am becoming. I never have any regrets. Every experience, good or bad, is teaching me something about myself or situation. I’m still learning and will always continue learning and evolving. The more I learn, I realise the little I actually know and that drives me to learn even more! I’ll make mistakes and mess up. I’ll fail at some things and be successful at others. I know I’ll just get back up, dust off the dirt and try again. Strong, successful, positive people inspire me. Not because of their qualifications, titles or the money they have but because of the battles they have won and the sheer determination to go after what they want and never give up. They never stop learning and evolving.

I like to dabble in many areas, try my skills at many things and if something doesn’t work then I move on and try something else. I know I will continue to do this on my journey and it will open up doors and opportunities. I’m excited to see where my path/s take me and what I will discover. Even if I find 1000 ways that don’t work, I know I’m closer to finding the one thing or path that will work for me and bring in a great income for me to achieve all those ambitions and check off the list faster. I’m not afraid to try. Not afraid to take the leap of faith and believe in myself. Not afraid to take the risk. I’m not afraid to fail. Been there, done that. Not as scary as you think; just annoying! And all my experiences- they make for great stories to tell the grand kids one day!

When we face our fears and weaknesses, it is then that we grow and become stronger and we are no longer afraid of those things. (Except bees and wasps – I think I will absolutely never get over that phobia :-p ) If we just do something that is outside our comfort zones every day, then soon there will be nothing that we will be afraid of. So I’ll continue to try things, to sparkle and shine, to enjoy life and report on what I learn! And that is why I think I am not only entrepreneur material but one that is full of much potential in many areas! Watch this space to find out what I do next!
Thanks for reading guys! Remember: love yourself for who you are and have faith and believe in your own skills and abilities. As my beautiful US marine friend says to me:

You are capable of far more than you can ever imagine and are stronger than you know.

And he is right.