How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up
May 01, 2017
Emilie Wapnick is still in the process of answering the question of what she wants to do with her life, and helping others do the same.
I appreciate a book that begins by telling me that "there is nothing wrong with you." I'm not so sure it's true, but I appreciate it.
And, in the way in which Emilie Wapnick applies those words, it is true—and a helpful reminder, at that.
As children, we're all asked what we want to be when we grow up. It's a question that seems pregnant with endless possibility, open imagination, and great promise. That can get bogged down in anxiety as we reach an age when we have to start making tangible decisions based on our answer—what kind of education to pursue, what to major in, where to live—especially for those who aren't sure of their answer, who don't feel like they really have just one, true calling—or at least don't know what it is, who may have multiple, competing interests pulling them in different directions. And yet, the pressure to specialize, to settle on one path, is great. And it is assumed that once we choose it, so long as we don't screw it up, we will be on a neat trajectory to a career associated with that interest.
If that is not the way your life has progressed, heed Wapnick's wise and caring words: "There Is Nothing Wrong with You." Those words are the title of the first chapter of her new book, How to Be Everything, which extends the lessons the message in her Popular TED Talk, "Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling." It lets you know that it's okay not to know the answer to what you want to be, even if you are in the process of becoming it—or just being it. You might jump from one interest to the next. You might not have a linear career path. You may just be a multipotentialite. So, you might immerse yourself in making music for years, try your hand at art and web design, study filmmaking for a time, even go to law school. And you might not "go pro" in any of those fields. And that's okay. That was what Wapnick did, and she has found that the skills she developed in each interest and pursuit still speak to each other in her current life, that the skills translate in unexpected and beneficial ways. Being in a band, for instance, gave her an understanding of how to perform on stage that she would use in delivering a speech that has now been viewed more than 3.5 million times and translated into 36 languages.
It is an important message, because multipotentialites face struggles in three rather large areas: work, productivity, and self-esteem. So, you know, our ability to make a living and enjoy it. With How to Be Everything, Wapnick wants you to help you overcome the pressures that come along with that and use your multipotentiality as the strength it naturally is.
The truth is that you aren't lacking a destiny or purpose. There is a very good reason for your insatiable curiosity: you're someone who's going to shake things up, create something novel, solve complex, multidimensional problems, make people's lives better in your own unique way. Whatever your destinies are, you can't step into them while stifling your multipotentiality. You must embrace it and use it.
Specialists are going to find their career paths easier to understand and navigate, but Wapnick counters the "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" perception of multipontentialites, and explains how to use your multiple interests and natural strengths—intellectual curiosity, synthesizing ideas, learning fast and adapting, the ability to see the big picture and bring ideas and people from different disciplines together—to develop your own, unique career path. She'll explain different models of working, help you find a personal productivity system that works for you, and lets you know where the stumbling blocks are likely to be. She'll teach you to "feature your weirdness" instead of hiding it, to feature the things that make you unique. It has become her mantra, and her current career is built on helping others find and feature what makes them unique. If you're ready to start on that path, How to Be Everything is for you.
We have 20 copies to give away.