A Diagnosis for My Disease

This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment. We talked about a lot of things: my thyroid, my workout plan, the stuff you would expect to talk about at the doctor’s office.

Then, as always, it spilled out of me.”I’m bored. I know I’ve committed to my job and I’ll give it another year, but I’m so, so bored.”

Without missing a beat, she asked, “Do you know what a multipotentialite is?” I shook my head. “Since you started coming to me, you’ve spent a lot of time talking about what you don’t want in life, but have trouble pinning down what you do want. You sound like a classic case of multipotentialite.” 

I immediately went home, and down the interweb rabbit hole. Don’t worry, I’m not dying (at least physically). Here’s the definition I found:

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But what does that mean exactly? Normally, I would never ask you to watch a 12-minute TED Talk (it’s so loooooooooong when all you want to do is skim this post for something relevant to you, right?), but nothing else has ever hit home for me. EVER.

So there you have it, I’ve been diagnosed. Multipotentialite. Finally, I have a name for the reason I feel forever unfulfilled, always chasing the next thing, frequently bored with the status quo.

If one more person asks me if I want to be a principal, or a full time consultant, or an FBI agent, I’m gonna explode. I don’t want any of these things, and I want all of these things. Even my husband, who is constantly mastering new hobbies, is sick of my daily existential crisis. Some days I want to quit and become a camp cook; other days I want to start up my own charter school. Why don’t I take the plunge? Because then I know inevitably boredom will set in and I’ll be stuck.

I’ve been romanticizing the idea of going back to teaching for the last six months, but when I was there, I was also bored, restless. It will be different this time, I tell myself.

The biggest reasons I love coaching is that I get to help people be better at the thing that they do (whether it’s classroom instruction or playing soccer) and then walk away. It’s their commitment, not mine. The freedom to dabble in others’ specialization is interesting and challenging. At the same time, I’m not creating anything that’s mine.

Let’s be clear, my life outside work is fulfilling. Clearly my multipotentialite personality had me create a bucket list to explore the vast interests of my life. Who else can say that they’ve submitted a gingerbread house to the state fair, joined an FBI Citizen Academy, ran to the top of Diamond Head, and had holiday tea with their friends?

OMG – do I need a work bucket list? I might have just stumbled onto something there…

One other thing my doctor said, “I feel like you’re on the edge of something really big in your life,” and since she’s pretty much the smartest and most intuitive person I’ve ever known, I’m going to hang on to this.