Are You a Renaissance Soul, too ?

Some people have known what they want to do all their lives and thus from from the minute they start to crawl and gurgle something resembling a human language.

I hate them. May  be it’s more accurate to say, I’m insanely jealous of them.

Weird kid at school

Why ? I have always been frustrated by the fact that I can’t stick with most things long enough to get good at them. I find a new project or hobby, do it for a little while and then get bored very quickly. Once I become familiar enough with the interesting points, I drop it and move on to the next new thing. I end up leaving a lot of projects unfinished.

This “problem” started when I was in college. I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to study since my interests were so vast. I knew that if I picked just one major that I would be ignoring other interests, and in time I would get bored with the one I picked. That’s exactly what happened. I started out in Computer Science because it was something I could do and it continued my studies from high school. I took all the math and science required for the degree, but the more I moved up in the CS classes, the more I felt out of my element. It just wasn’t my passion.

There are some subjects that I really love exploring deeply into, becoming an expert in them for example my 10 years interest with Historical European Martial Art. Usually, I like to learn about as many different things as I can. When something is new to me, it is more interesting and exciting. Over time, a few interests have become recurring themes in my life, however, but I’ve only discovered them in retrospect. As a child, I didn’t know what I really liked to do, because I liked most things equally. I got bored all the time and always in a need of constant new stimulation. For example, some people can pick one hobby and stick with it. Even in the hobbies I do stick with, such as crafts, I don’t focus on one thing. Some people are writer and writer their whole lives.

Born to Wanderlust

I find it hard to understand why some people always go to the same place for a vacation. Also, I always asking those questions: Why have a vacation in just one location, and go there year after year? Doesn’t it get boring? Don’t you want to see something new? Aren’t they curious to see what other locations have to offer? Nope, most people really do enjoy going to the same place over and over. They are looking for a relaxing time that they can count on, and switch off their brain . They know what they like and nothing will sway them. Well, that doesn’t work for me. Of course, there are places that I’d love to revisit a few more times, but I always seem to choose somewhere new. Partly, the excitement of visiting somewhere new is almost never matched by a visit to somewhere I’ve already been. The discovery component is gone. It becomes routine.

The Good, the Bad, and the Renaissance soul

Of course, being a renaissance soul it’s a “curses” which comes with some negative traits : You are someone who need constantly require variety and learning new things. I can get proficient at something, or learn enough about it to answer my initial questions, and then I’m moving to something else. So I am an expert in nothing. Usually, I always have several books going at once, so it takes me longer to finish reading any of them, if I finish them at all.

On the  bright side: By the time I die, I’ll know a little about just about everything. Since I’m always excited to learn new things, this often wears off on other people which encourages and motivates them. I have to say that my varied interests are perfect traits for parenting, since I tackle such a wide variety of issues and subjects. It also means I’m buying a lot of new books, which is always a positive, except for my wallet. And reading so many books at once means that I can read the one that I’m in the mood for at the time.

I see Renaissance People !

Recently, I came to understand and with help of a friend just what’s going on with me – I’m not that weird, I’m simply an renaissane soul or multipotentialite. Also, I am not alone in these kinds of behaviors. There are many of us out there. I got two important bits of information by contacting theme. One, I finally have words to put to my issues. Two, there are a couple of books to help me. Realize, though, that I’m not the type to dive into the nearest self-help book at any sign of difficulty. I think that they’re often just filled with common sense (or common nonsense, depending on the subject). Decent introspection can often give you the information you need. But sometimes when you learn something new about yourself, it really helps to be able to put words to it, so I thought these books would help. I was right.

The first book I read is called The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People With Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine. It contain some great exercises for figuring out what you are really interested in, what keeps impregnating to the top in your life. Focusing on a few interests at a time has helped me focus my energy. Spread yourself too thin and you don’t make any progress in anything. But focus on a few at a time and it works pretty well. Then when a certain amount of time has passed, or when the time feels right, rearrange your priorities and give some of your other interests a chance to shine. The book can also helps you how to arrange your career life to suit your interests.

The second book uses the term Scanner, instead of Renaissance Soul. It delves more deeply into what to do in your life and career and is called Refuse to Choose! Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher. It’s funny how these books require long and descriptive subtitles! There are indeed careers out there that let you use many of your interests at once, such as being an elementary school teacher, writing about a variety of subjects or having multiple jobs at once. This book is broken into two sections. The first describes what a scanner is, and helps you figure out if you are one. The second section is longer, and describes 11 different kinds of scanners. You can read the chapters, figure out which one(s) you are, and then use the tools and suggestions at the end of those chapters to help you find your way.

Both of these books are incredibly helpful to someone like me. One reason why I find them helpful is that they finally tell me that there is nothing wrong with me! Some people are just wired this way. Just knowing that there are other people out there who have had the same experiences is motivating. This is why like-minded people tend to flock together to do things like play games, watch sport or talk about books. It’s nice to know you have things in common with other people. But mostly the books have given me guidance, to help me focus on my true interests and help me to not feel overwhelmed by their quantity.

If you think you’re a renaissance soul/polymath/multipotentialite/Scanner then definitely watch Emilie’s TEDx talk below. It’s more than worth your 12 minutes.

Let me know in the comments if you consider yourself also a ‘Renaissance Soul’ or one of the lucky ones who has always known what they wanted.And by the way, welcome my friend to a whole new universe of possibility 😀