I’m currently sitting in my former law school library, trying to keep my internal giggles internal. Just a year ago, walking into this building would bring about feelings of bitterness and misery, but since graduating, the few times I’ve been back have been tremendous. It may be sort of sick, but I get this overwhelming […]
I’m currently sitting in my former law school library, trying to keep my internal giggles internal.
Just a year ago, walking into this building would bring about feelings of bitterness and misery, but since graduating, the few times I’ve been back have been tremendous.
It may be sort of sick, but I get this overwhelming sense of glee when I walk through the law building now, listening to all the chatter about what firms everyone’s applying to or why you shouldn’t take a class on animal rights because “then you’d have to justify it to potential employers.”
Apparently, to most firms, having diverse interests just means that you’re not serious. It’s something that needs to be justified.
As a “Multipotentialite,” None of this Resonated with Me
My inherent urge to continuously explore new fields and bring disparate ideas together in creative ways clashed with much of the law school curriculum. The funny thing, is that it’s precisely this tendency to seek out new ideas that landed me in law school in the first place!
I always find it odd when people ask me why I “chose” not to practice law. The truth is, it wasn’t much of a choice at all. I never wanted to be a lawyer. I was simply interested in learning about law. That’s it. And you know what? Mission accomplished. Time to move on.
Exploration v. Specialization
Most people view law school as a form of professional training– a means to an end. But to me, law was just one stop along an ever-evolving journey of exploration.
Before law school, I spent 4 years writing and producing short films. Before that, I designed websites and studied art and before that I wrote and performed songs, learned jazz guitar and taught myself audio production.
That’s what multipotentialites do. We find something new that fascinates us, dive in, absorb all we can and then when we feel satisfied, we move on to the next adventure.
It’s not that we’re unfocused or non-committal. In fact, we pour so much energy into our pursuits, that we end up being extremely well-versed in many different disciplines. We’re fast learners because we’re driven by a need to understand.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret going to law school. I actually learned a lot of useful skills while I was there. It’s just that those skills aren’t going to help me be a good lawyer. They’re going to help in other ways.
Leveraging Your Multipotentiality
So no, I’m not a lawyer. But I did successfully register my company and apply for a trademark this year. I can make videos for my projects and products that look nice because I studied lighting in film school. I can design my own websites because of my background in web design. I can even record a professional sounding podcast because of my audio production days.
My aim here isn’t to brag or to convince specialists that what they’re doing is wrong. It’s just that we live in a hyper-specialized world, and specialists need to stop imposing their values on the rest of us.
Some of us are wired to jump around between interests, and there’s tremendous value in that. I’m not even talking about abstract value like “developing your mind.” I’m talking about financial value.
You Don’t Need to Specialize
Here’s some advice that you won’t hear very often: If you have many interests in life, don’t give them up. Don’t specialize.
The truth is, leveraging your multipotentiality is financially lucrative. It makes you an asset in any organization (assuming you have a boss who’s smart enough to recognize this talent), and it’s even more of a strength when you’re working on your own to build something you believe in.
Instead of choosing one path to the exclusion of all others, I became an entrepreneur and built my own “Renaissance Business,” fueled by my many interests and drive to master new skills. It works.
Don’t listen to the law firms. Don’t listen to the specialists. You can be everything you want to be.
Have you found a way to combine and leverage your many interests? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Emilie Wapnick is a writer and multipotentialite at Puttylike.com. She is the author of The ‘Undeclared for Life’ Manifesto and co-hosts the podcast Undeclared for Life.