What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

Renaissance Woman?



1986 during my acting-and-comedy phase

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that it’s focused on my utter lack of focus. I have dabbled in nearly everything, and have grand plans to attempt the rest of it when I retire. Here’s a paragraph from my professional bio:

Donna studied writing, film, and theater, and has been employed as a jazz singer, copywriter, set designer, sound engineer, choreographer, makeup artist, actor, web designer, joke writer, dancer, costume designer, show doctor, model, bartender, videographer, theatrical director, graphic designer, club promoter, interior decorator, and DJ.

When I pursued each of those things, I went at it with a single-minded obsessiveness that would make your head spin. But then weeks or months in, once I felt like I had gotten pretty good at it, something completely different would catch my interest, and off I’d go on another adventure of learning and making and doing. On my best days, I found this circuitous, jack-of-all-trades path my life has taken to be funny. Most of the time, though, it’s been a source of great anxiety and self-criticism. Until the blog, that is. I now feel like my interest in everything has finally paid off (figuratively, if not literally), and it enables me to offer a fairly wide variety of subjects to attract would-be readers.

But even though the blog has given me an excuse to be interested in every single art form I encounter, it still sticks in my craw (that’s right, I have a craw. You don’t know.) when I see artists like Nick Patten whose paintings are clearly the result of great talent paired with great focus or OK Go, who channel every ounce of creativity they have into their One Big Thing (wildly-imaginative music videos set to very listenable music). By flitting from one thing to the next, even if I do spend a year or two obsessively focused on something, I never get enough experience to feel like a legitimate artist. I never get to consider myself a real professional at anything creative. It’s infuriating, and it’s been making my stomach hurt since sophomore year of high school when I was asked to choose between art club, dance troupe, and glee club. (Rather than choose, I punted and joined a musical production at our brother school which happily took up all my time.)

My art teachers were convinced I was going to be an artist. My music teachers were 100% sure I was going to pursue music. My literature teachers firmly believed I was going to be a writer. But while many of my talented friends became professional photographers and filmmakers and performers and artists, my inability to choose a path resulted in me taking a desk job. Yes, it did eventually turn into a career, and one from which I do derive some satisfaction, but it’s been a real struggle to find ways to inject some creativity into my daily paper pushings.

However, if you can believe writer and artist Emilie Wapnick, maybe I’m not just a giant, unfocused blob of indecision after all! I’m not a screw up, I’m a multipotentialite! The first time I watched this video, all I could think was YES! I finally feel understood, and I think I may understand myself a little better, too. I only wish I could go back and show this to that high school sophomore. It might have changed everything.

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

34 thoughts on “Renaissance Woman?

  1. Fantastic video, makes me think of one of my Granddaughters. Now our conversations will be a little different. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I began to nod my head as I read your bio snippet; by the time I finished this post, I was at risk for self-inflicted CTE as a result of the neck workout. Yes, MA’AM!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This very much resonates with me. My disparate background does not haunt me as much as it might because I know I’ve been successful and each seemingly unrelated thing has been a stepping stone to the next thing. It’s hard to explain, at the moment (at least succinctly) how it is that I have a BA in Government, a Master in Public Administration, but have worked as a crafter, artist, costume designer, mentor, grant writer, community relations coordinator and now I’m running for State Representative. An artist and a politician, who knew? But somehow it all does fit together, as I’m sure your background does too. We’re just bigger picture people, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like I just found my tribe! Thank you, Donna!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW! Clearly and beautifully, this woman described to a T how many (lucky) people are ‘wired.’ It also made me think of the incredible company my daughter, Kathryn (, works for: Automattic. (Yes, it’s spelled with two Ts, since the founder’s name is Matt. 😀 ) Automattic is the parent company of – the platform for many millions of websites and blogs – like ours, Donna. Automattic *loves* to hire ‘multipotentialites’ as described in this TED talk – which is exactly what my daughter is – she was a website builder, writer, former film production coordinator and associate director, actress (school plays), math whiz (high school) and more. She now works there (5 years and more) as a ‘Happiness Engineer’ specializing in theme support. But they encourage their employees (who live all over the world and telecommute) to work in teams and move sideways or up as often as they like. This video made me admire the company all the more for recognizing the value of such people with their breadth of knowledge and adaptability. Fascinating! Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another word to use to add to my self-image, a depressive autistic multipotentialite! Wow this is getting complicated 🙂 . But I have a tinge of sadness around watching that, if only I had watched this video 30 years ago, I might have been a bit easier on myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great talk. I am not a multipotentialite. I have flitted between careers but usually for pragmatic reasons. I am definitely a Jack of All Trades and Master of None when it comes to my art, however, and have had some critiques that suggest I need to just choose one medium or style in order to make my art more identifiable, so that anyone can look at my art and know “that’s a Laura”. I, therefore, have some insight into how it feels to try and be shoved into one labelled and sealed box. It must be stifling to be a polymath who is forced to stay in one groove the whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m a bit surprised, actually. We’re such twinsies on everything else, I think I just assumed… I know what you mean about your art. My singing was the same. I really struggled with developing my own style. By the time I had that more or less figured out, my pipes had rusted out from disuse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We finally found something where we diverge. That is OK. It keeps the dynamic interesting. Even in terms of my switching careers, all of my jobs have always involved children, whether teaching High School, working in child protection, managing a childcare charity, or teaching preschool. I am much more diverse when it comes to my hobbies and interests but, even then, I have maintained the same ones for many years now without getting bored.

        I wonder if you could get back into singing by maybe taking some vocal lessons for strengthening the machinery again. I have no idea what is involved in singing but that sounded like something someone would suggest if they did know what they were talking about. Ha ha!


      • I love singing best of all, but I’m afraid that ship has sailed. Nobody wants to hear a middle-aged woman sing torch songs. That’s okay. I still have the shower and karaoke!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Susan Boyle. She did it.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I can relate to this. Always call myself a Modern Day Renaissance Woman, because my interests are so diverse. It is a great thing:) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fascinating topic! How fun to learn a little something about you, Donna….thanks for sharing!

    I’m the opposite of a multipotentialite. I guess you could call me monogamous in all things…I’ve only ever been a fiber artist, I’ve been with the same guy since I was a teen, I have had only one career, and I still keep my childhood teddy bear in my bed. While I’m interested in everything I feel like I’m only good at a few very things, which also led to lots self criticism and judgement from others

    My husband is a multipotentialite. He’s been accused of all the same things you were accused of and considered to have an astonishing “lack of focus.” In our young years together we would often clash over our differing worldviews, but now in our midlife we can laugh and appreciate our differences. I love how he introduces me to new things, and he appreciates how my laser focus has made me extremely skilled in a *small* number of areas.

    Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could learn to appreciate our uniqueness at a young age, instead of angsting our entire lives about our faults? Not THAT would be a real skill worth developing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My English is not good, but I want to read your article and improve my knowledge

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Donna, may I REBLOG this one? It’s so fitting for my mood lately… old lady trying to redo her life! HAHA

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Multipotentialite - Are You One?

  13. Im so happy to find someone who wrote about the same story ❤ yay to us multipotentialite!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for this. Describes me to a T. Sports, drama, writing, sciences, singing in high school. Degrees in Geography – which is as close to polymathism as you can get. A career in government but in several different jobs. Since retiring I have had gardening, travel planning, editing, art, photography, genealogy, theatre production, and writing projects. And now I have a proud descriptor, or three.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Such a Cute Age… | My OBT

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