From the earliest age I can remember, I’ve had endless interests. I discover something new, become completely captivated by it and devour everything I could get my hands on. I live and breath the subject for weeks or even months. Then, something new attracts me. Instantly in love with my new topic, I blissfully immerse myself in it. Usually, I juggle several fascinating topics at once and can happily talk the ear off anyone for hours about my newest loves. I remember once walking into a book store and gazing around at the wide range of topics, and I suddenly felt a pang of frustration that I was never going to live long enough to learn and explore all that the world had to offer.
So it should have been easy for me to choose a career, right? With so many passions, all I had to do was choose one. Aye, there’s the rub! The idea of choosing just one subject to devote my life to, while ignoring all my other interests, left me cold inside. I love history and yet I dropped out of an archaeology degree. When I explained it to my friend, the only way I could describe it was this: ‘If I study archaeology, then at the end of it I’ll be an archaeologist. It’s like being in a sheep pen, being herded in one direction to go into a tiny field where I’ll spend my life. I can’t stand the idea of that. I want a wide open plain. My friend responded that the plain sounded scary. ‘Yes, but I need the plain’ I answered.
I tried different things and always, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, would move on to something else. I knew if I chose one thing, I end up resenting it. So instead, I studied a degree I had no interest in, and took a job in an industry that bored me, reasoning that it’s better to resent something I don’t like anyway, than grow to resent something I love. Meanwhile, surely someday, inspiration would strike and I’d find that ‘One True Calling’ I’m supposed to spend my life at.
However, I felt guilty and ashamed. I was an adult. Why couldn’t I just grow up and pick something? Was I doomed to roam through life, an aimless drifter who’d never contribute anything of meaning to the world? Was I just a waste of space? I was so envious of people who had one thing they loved, and could happily stick to that.
One evening, while browsing around on the internet, 14 tabs open as usual, I came across a strange expression. A woman called Barbara Sher was talking about something called a Scanner Personality. People who are intensely curious about many different topics, who have multiple passions, and find it hard to choose one, at the expense of the rest. When I read it, I almost squealed in excitement. That’s me!! This describes me to a T!! I will never be happy to stick with one subject because I’m not wired that way. I was a square peg, trying to force myself into a round hole.
Instantly, the shame and guilt fell away. There was nothing wrong with me. I was trying to force myself into a way of life that would never work for me. The moment I gave myself permission to be the Renaissance Woman (I prefer that term to ‘Scanner’) I was born to be, ideas flooded to me instantly. Suddenly, the idea of choosing something no longer threatened me because I could choose lots of things, and integrate them, creating my own unique career. I could give myself permission to pursue my many interests. For the first time in years, I could breath more easily.
You might feel the same way. Spending hours researching your newest passion, while feeling guilty and ashamed that you can’t seem to find your ‘One True Calling’ to stick with. One moment, feeling like a kid in a candy store as you happily immerse yourself in the latest topic that captivates you. The next, feeling ashamed of yourself for not having committed to something by now. If this is the case, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve been trying to force yourself to work in a way that you are not designed to, in a world where people are constantly told to specialize.
Here are some of the traits of a Renaissance Woman:
- You have multiple passions
- You become intensely curious about a new subject, devouring information on it to learn more.
- You rarely have a desire to master any one topic. Once you’ve learned all you want to know, you’re happy to move on to the next adventure.
- You feel frustrated, ashamed and guilty because you still haven’t found that ‘One Thing’ to pursue.
- You feel guilty and ashamed of having so many interests.
- You often feel embarrassed at having to explain to people that the last project you were so enthusiastic about before, is something you are no longer working on. You can almost see them exchange weary glances.
- You start multiple projects, but rarely finish them.
- The idea of sticking to one field and devoting your life to it, leaves you feeling trapped.
- You’re afraid that if you choose one passion, you’ll end up resenting it, no matter how much you love it now.
- You work at a low paying job, or do work you have no interest in, as a way to avoid choosing one career path.
- You’re afraid that if you choose one thing, you’ll end up quickly becoming bored with it, as you’ve always done in the past.
- If you didn’t feel pressured to choose, you could very happily spend your life exploring and learning as much as the world has to offer.
photo credit: uppityrib via photopin cc Veronica Franco, a fascinating heroine and fellow Renaissance Woman.
The moment you give yourself permission to be the Renaissance Woman you are, you’ll feel immense relief. You’ll find it much easier to try out a new project, knowing you are under no obligation to spend the rest of your life at it. Once you make it ok for you to be a Renaissance Woman, you’ll become much more productive, because you can include enough of your passions into what you do, in a way that guarantees you’ll never miss out or become bored. This is who you are, and it’s perfect! The world needs Renaissance Women, otherwise you would not have been created the way you are. The world would be a far less richer place if Leonardo da Vinci (who also suffered from guilt for having such a wide range of passions), Benjamin Franklin or Oprah Winfrey had ‘grown up’ and chosen one path to stick with.
Stop listening to other people, who pressure you to specialize. You are not meant to work this way. Remind yourself that only your permission is required when deciding what you want to do. No-one else has the authority to make that decision for you, or tell you that you need to force yourself into the ‘one size fits all’ model that they’ve decided is right for everyone. The more you listen to yourself, and embrace who you truly are, the easier it will become, and the richer and more abundant your life will be. You’ll be free to create your own unique career, including many of your passions.