Multipotentialite, don’t choose a career (1)
Choosing a profession, a sensitive subject for multipotentialites.
Choosing a career path is one of the most common problems faced by multipotential people.
It’s no wonder then that this topic is one of the most researched online by people “like us”. Because yes, if you are reading this article, you are certainly part of those people who “have no passion”… or very many!
This is a subject that is close to my heart, because it has personally affected me for years. And it continues to put relentless pressure on the multipotentialite.
I’m talking of course about the social pressure that asks you to choose your professional path, often very (much too) early.
Whether it comes from your parents, who want to see you land a “good” job. Or from high school, which wants to put you in a class, in a field, in a predetermined path from which you should never deviate.
And I’m not talking about the pressure exerted by recruiters. Nor the indexing robots that manage CV banks…
I’ll try to explain why multipotential people are under so much pressure, and even more so in Western countries, and in today’s world.
As this is a long topic, I decided to do it in two parts. This is part one.
My main goal is to help you become aware of the origin of this pressure, of the different factors which are at the origin of it.
And therefore to be able to take a step back, to find alternatives, to allow you to outwit the traps. And therefore to be able to lead your life as you should, if you want to be happy.
And something is telling me that behind this search for a professional path, being happy with what you do for a living is your ultimate goal.
Hang on, because I’m going to talk about the dominant social values, the world of tomorrow, the realities of life, and what happiness really is…
Why are we in such a hurry to choose our professional path?
To understand this, we must first understand certain realities of the world in which we live. Certain aspects of a psychological, practical, material and political nature.
Because this pressure to choose a profession, and to stick to it all one’s life, can be explained by many aspects:
- our parents’ history, traumas and fears
- the traditional school and university system
- the increasing specialisation of professions
- an IT – and soon AI – dominated society
- fear of tomorrow, of a changing world
- the will to maintain the social order
- false beliefs
- lack of trust…
Our parents and their fears
Our parents, our family, these dear people who want us to do well… and often fail. Simply because they are led by their own beliefs, fears and dissatisfactions…
The survival of the following generations
If they press us so hard to choose our professional path, it is often for one fundamental thing: to be reassured.
Our parents, especially those born in the post-war generations, often have a real obsession (if they are good parents!): that you will survive their death.
And to do this, their priority is to push you to have a stable and well-paid job. So that you have money, so that you can feed yourself, take care of yourself, shelter yourself and clothe yourself. Simply put, to be able to meet your primary, essential needs.
Their pressure to choose your professional path is actually masking their desire to see you secure a job that will keep you from needing. This same desire, motivated by fear, that also pushes them to want to see you in a steady relationship, preferably married, and settled in a house that you own. This deep desire to see you ‘settled’, ‘established’ in life, with enough money to be good, and someone to take care of you.
But a desire which is motivated by fear is never a good sign…
Happiness, a modern priority
For a very long time, happiness was not a priority in life. For previous generations, succeeding in life meant succeeding financially and materially, to provide for our needs and those of our children – the other ‘logical path’ of our life being for our parents to continue the lineage.
Personal development was born in the middle of the 20th century, and especially during the sixties, when a whole generation began to want to free itself from these famous social pressures, dominated by materialism and the accumulation of wealth. This desire to earn more, and to acquire a certain material comfort was easily explained, and had multiple causes: the end of the Second World War, and the poverty it inflicted on generations. But also an easier access to college for a larger part of the population, the huge transformation of society, the creation of new needs, new products, new jobs…
At that time already, there were some who were dreaming about another lifestyle: the boomers, the environmentalists alter-globalists began to kinda shout their hate of what the world was becoming. And they wanted to put personal happiness, the expression of one’s true self, pleasure and the “present moment” in the center of their philosophy of life. But the majority of the inhabitants of the Westernized countries, followed by those of the emerging countries (who were also beginning to have radio and television, therefore being able to see how the “riches” lived), aspired and still aspire today to wealth, comfort, and therefore to a “good job”. The one that pays. Personal fulfillment was found in material comfort.
Fear in a changing (and scary) world
Today, our parents see a world that is uncertain, that changes quickly and erratically, and that is more and more demanding of individuals. More degrees are required for the same job, and the competition to get them is getting tougher.
Moreover, some parents are themselves lost in their own professional life, seeing their job, their sector of activity devalued or in decline. They know or have known unemployment, or feel overwhelmed by the changes in society, the omnipresence of computers or the disappearance of interest in certain skills.
All this explains their stress, which they often transmit to their children. Some will then push towards career choices only because they seem (I say, they seem) to have to last in the future. And for some jobs, this is not absurd: we should need hairdressers and doctors for quite a few decades, right? Yes, unless robots come to replace us. Because some artificial intelligences are capable of better diagnoses than human practitioners!
And who can be sure that during other periods of lockdown (or with a general poverty), people may not have the means or the desire to get their hair cut… And we’re not even talking about fashion…
All this leads to caregivers desperately looking for a smooth path and plenty of job opportunities for their children, so that they get a so-called ‘sure’ occupation. Those parents who have experienced the “Glorious Thirties” and secure jobs in public administration, secure and paid until retirement, still dream of the same security and soft career path for their kids.
Especially when the world seems to be more and more dangerous – and that’s what we see in the media. When danger – or rather, the feeling of danger – dominates our choices, we try to get some sort of guarantee for the satisfaction of our basic needs.
And especially when we don’t really know what’s going on in the world today: we tend to advise our children to take on ‘known’ jobs, the ‘secure’ ones. Becoming a writer or YouTuber may actually have way more opportunities than jobs in aeronautics, when the end of oil (and kerosene) or another possible sudden lockdown is looming… But these jobs are sometimes hard to understand, and they only see insecurity in them.
Lack of trust
Some parents also have difficulty trusting their children.
First of all because they are older, and therefore in their own eyes, wiser! Some parents think, rightly or wrongly, that they know better than their child what life is, and its priorities. And the (their) reality of the world. Not to mention those who have a hard time seeing us grow up … and have our own knowledge, and our own desires.
We are children, so we are not equipped to choose well, parents of teenagers often think, when choosing a career path when entering high school. If at 12 we proudly declare that we want to work with animals, they will often push us to become veterinarians. If they haven’t decided that lawyer would be the only option for you.
Many became doctors or notaries, have painstakingly gone through Yale, only out of respect for a “family tradition”. And for some, this made them totally unhappy. Spending years studying finance when they dreamed of being a seamstress or filmmaker, the examples of lives not chosen but endured, of unfinished dreams, of missed destinies are legion. This is so sad.
It is highly likely that on their deathbed, these people would have advised you to follow your own path, rather than choosing the one dictated by others…
Compensation for their own dreams… and failures
Many parents dream our life for us – even before they manusfactured us in the bedroom. “He will be a firefighter, she will be a doctor” … Unconsciously or very affirmatively, our parents trace paths of life for us, before us and without us.
And for some, it is also a hidden desire to see us succeed in their place in a career they have not accomplished. Many parents see us as their ‘extension’, and if we succeed, it will be in some way a proof of their own success, as parents, but also as a family. Our ‘brilliant career’ will also make them shine, in a way. We then realize our parents’ dream instead of our own.
Well, you get the idea, I summarized. But the main goal is to try to make you aware of one thing: your parents actually want your happiness, but they often get it wrong on the ‘how’. Because they are not YOU. Because their motivation often hides fear, or personal recognition needs, or unspoken disappointments, or pride …
This family pressure is a first clue to explore, a decisive aspect you must be aware of.
The survival guide to family pressure
The first thing to do is to become aware of the influence of your parents on your own choices. Of the influence of their own lives on their vision of the world, of success, of happiness, among other things.
And so take a step back.
Both to analyze what makes or made you choose a professional path, to choose a particular field, a specific job or company.
Your parents may be the first to support you despite your questions and your choices of professional path. To encourage you to look for what suits you, in terms of job, activity, source of income, choice of life.
But if you are one of those who spend their time under this parental pressure to choose at last, who have to endure these remarks about your ‘instability’ or lamentations about your “failures”, here are some ideas to explore in order to free yourself from this bad posture, and redraw some bad patterns.
Take the time to ask them what drives them to make you choose your future job, and why. This can push them to question their own vision of the world and the future. But it can also lead to discussions about the reality of personal success, and the real potential of some jobs, for example.
In the specific case of multipotentialites, get to know more and talk to them about the future of work. The real need to acquire diverse and varied skills, and to develop above all their ability to learn and adapt. You can talk about online courses, the online wide opportunities to learn and get trainings and acquire solid degrees and practical knowledge throughout your adult life. Reassure them about your ability to easily adapt to the coming changes.
The second track is to find a way to build their trust in you. Explain to them that you want to be happy and successful in life, the same way they want you to be happy. That you have skills and aptitudes, and that you want to use them, because that’s what will make you happy. That it is by choosing to have several jobs, to acquire several skills that you think you are better equipped to succeed in life. That you don’t want to limit yourself to one training, one job, because it seems dangerous to you. That it is the equivalent of putting all your money in one single financial investment. It turns out that, actually, this is a not the wisest choice….
The third track is to start creating your financial independence. Start thinking now, even if you are a teenager, about ways to make money. Whether it’s washing cars, pet sitting, trading vintage video games or lauching a podcast. This will allow them to see that you are proactive and able of creating your own path. If you are an adult, learn how to be more savyy about money. If you choose to leave your job, go back to school or start a business, your parents will be more reassured (and you too) to see that you have some financial or material security, and/or able to get it whenever needed.
Do not hesitate to tell your parents that their pressure (to stay in the same job, to choose a field in high school, to stay in the same major at college) makes you deeply unhappy. Express the fact that you are disappointed when you see that they do not trust you, and life in general. Because this is what they make you feel. Say that you would like their support in your quest of happiness. Because this search is motivated by your own desire, by your own needs for personal fulfillment. And that you are looking, like them, to find your own path. And that it will be the one you trace for yourself.
Fourth track: Create your own family. When you grow up, you have the right to take off and surround yourself with your own family. Whether it’s in the choice of your friends and your life partners, choose people who understand and support you. Take a distance from your parents if, despite your discussions and exchanges on the subject, they persist in criticizing you. Or to push you to choose a path – even more so if it does not correspond to you.
Build your confidence and your personal ability to resist family and social pressure. It will always be there, whether it’s about your work or your relationships, your physical appearance, your personal choices…
Listen to your instincts and work to build your own professional career. It will be rich and varied, and above all not monotonous, because that’s what characterizes you: curiosity, the desire to learn and discover new things, all the time. By forcing yourself to make a choice to please your parents, you will never find your path. It would be expensive to achieve happiness. You are made for multiple courses and experiences.
Learn from people who have succeeded in reconciling different life paths, different passions – yes, they do exist! Do not hesitate to contact them and ask them how they steered their own boat… and resisted family pressure!
You will never be happy if you do not make your own choices. If you realize the dream of other people than you. Even if this pressure is motivated by their love and their desire to see you safe, tell yourself and repeat to them that you know better than anyone what is good for you, and that you alone decide your life. It belongs to you, and to no one else.
If your parents love you, they will be happy to see you happy… whatever your professional path!
(to be continued…)