One of the things that bothers me most about myself is the fact that I’m multi-passionate. I’m often so overwhelmed with project ideas that they keep me up at night. There are so many subjects I want to learn about, so many stories I want to write, so many pursuits I’d like to try. Earlier today, it took all my strength to not get a book I saw on Critical Race Theory from the library. The stack of books next to my bed has already extended itself to occupy both the floor and my window sill.
When I was in high school, my boyfriend at the time was single-minded. He wanted to go to medical school. All his extracurriculars, hobbies and volunteer work lined up with that goal. He started reading The Economist because a med school application coach told him it would help him. Today, he’s in med school. At the time, I was on student council, in the school choir, in the drama club, I worked as a lifeguard, volunteered for the Arthritis Society, took history and creative writing for my electives. None of my activities lined up. Years later, I’m in the same boat.
Sometimes I worry that being multi-passionate will prevent me from being successful. I worry that because I don’t have the tunnel vision that my old boyfriend had that I won’t achieve my dreams like he achieved his. At the end of the day though, I don’t want to be successful like him, I want to be successful like me.
I could never read The Economist because someone told me it would help me get into medical school. I could only read The Economist if I actually wanted to read The Economist. There’s a big difference between wanting to read something and wanting to have read something. I’m reminded of this every time I think it might be nice to read more “classic” literature. It always seems like a good idea, but when I’m actually curled up with Herman Melville and he’s spewing all this useless shit about whales — No, thank you.
I’ve recently realized that I’m not an “ends justifies means” person. I've also realized that I don’t have to be.
Equifinality is the principle that the same end state can be reached via different trajectories. This past year, I learned that even when it comes to professional school, equifinality is possible.
About a year ago, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. When I started studying for the LSAT, I thought I needed to be like my old boyfriend. I committed myself to study and only study; to abandon all my other goals and interests.
It went well at first. I started waking up around 5am so I could study before my day job started at 9am. I would come home pretty tired, would study a bit more then go to bed. After the initial romance of my commitment wore off, I found inspiration seeping through the cracks of my Spartan routine. When making dinner, I'd be inspired to write something and steal 20 minutes to type that idea up. Some mornings, I'd wake up full of energy and skip a lesson to go to the gym.
The cheating seemed harmless at first, a stolen kiss here and there. Before I knew it though, it was a full fledged multi-passionate affair. I took on film projects and wrote every week, I started marbling paper and selling handmade goods on Etsy and at craft fairs. I read books; many, many books that had nothing to do with logic. All the while working 40 hours a week at my day job.
It was sometime during this passion-project-binge that my dad asked me how my studying was going. It's true that I was stressed at the time (very stressed if I'm being honest) but when it came down to it I was in control of my studying. I understood the material and was doing great in my problem sets.
When I wrote the LSAT, I aced it. I didn't have to re-write and I got accepted into Law School a few weeks later.
It was important for me to write this piece because I was wrong. You don't need to be a machine to succeed. You don't need to sleep, breath and live for one goal. It could be that you want to. I'm just not about that life. This past year, I learned a lot about logic but I also learned I don't need to change who I am to get what I want.
I'm not saying that you have to achieve your goals my way or my old boyfriend's way. There’s no binary, no either/or. At the end of the day, the only right way is "your way."
Don’t be afraid that you’re doing it wrong, your only job is to do it.