Episode 1 | I'm no good at anything - Some of us don't have one true calling
This my very first Podcast episode, so I thought I’d start with a simple question. Who am I? Simple enough, you’d think. Not all too simple when it comes to me. In fact, I don’t have an answer to that question. At least, not just one. I’ve got a thousand different answers I could give to you but if I did, I’d probably still be here tomorrow.. So, let’s take a step back.
For half my life, I’ve been a competitive gymnast. And just that, a gymnast. I started when I was just 3 years old, or maybe 4. People in my home town would know me through the gymnastics club, outsiders would very quickly get to know that it was my one big passion. I was investing a lot of time into the sport. But then I also had tons of other things that took my interest during my childhood. Over the years I did take a few drawing classes, I did learn to play a few instruments - well, the basics - but.. Eventually I quit. Nothing quite stuck with me like gymnastics did. So for half my life I was mainly that, the gymnast. And I wasn’t all too bad at what I was doing, but I’ve never been quite good enough to win a major competition.
When I grew older, say mid-teenage years, that’s when things started getting a bit .. messy - Pressured by the unavoidable life question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” God, a question that has always made me shiver - it still causes some serious anxiety for me - perhaps for many of you, too. Can you remember the first time you were asked that question?
I mean, as a child it just seemed all too easy - having all the typical seven year old answers. One day, I was going to become a flight attendant, the next day, I was a school teacher, a dancer - Oh, and I’ve always wanted to be a popstar. But never the same thing twice, obviously. Because that’s life for most kids pretty much. But then most kids grow up, they pick something. Well I guess, as far as I’m concerned, I guess I never really did. I tried, but it didn’t work. As soon as I settled on one thing, I just became bored, dissatisfied. And, little surprising, I never became any of the things I said I wanted to be when I was a kid - but I did (and still do) link onto aspects of them building my career today.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, there’s a good chance that if your seven-year-old self rattled off a list of ten different future selves like I did, the adult asking would bring out a rather unimpressed, “You can’t be all of those, decide for one”. And there we go, this is where the madness started. What used to be a topic of excitement, full of unstoppable dreams and possibility, turning into anxiety eventually.
Have you ever noticed that there's this huge pressure around to identify your thing, to commit to the one thing you’re really good at, the thing that makes you stand out. All around us, people have chosen their field of expertise their excelling in it. The internet is filled with advice on how to find your ‘true calling’. I'm talking about people who, when they do what they do, look like they are exerting zero effort, and having the time of their lives. In fact, I spent a long time chasing other people's story vs. finding my own.
It’s subtle, but in a way we can translate What do you want to be when you grow up? to You are allowed one identity in this life, so which is it? How terrifying is that? It’s no wonder that question stresses us out. But we’re being told that this is the only route to success. “Stop spreading yourself too thin! You’ll confuse people! You’ll never be truly good at something if you keep trying everything.” Yeah.. Jack of all trades, there we have it… There’s this idea of destiny or one true calling … What if the idea of that “one true calling” is nothing but a myth? What if you’re not supposed to find it? What if you’re someone who just isn’t wired this way? Have you ever felt like you just have too many interests to find your one true calling or dream job?
Well, this is me. I spent the past few years worrying about what I was supposed to be doing with my life, with myself. I’d always complain that there is no one single thing I’m really good at. Okay, that’s not true - I’m good at many things, but am I great at anything? And how do I even figure out what I'm great at? I wished for someone to just do some sort of magic assessment on me that would spit out a "Here's what Charline Catteeuw's sweet spot is... here's what she uniquely brings to the table...
There’s loads of things I enjoy doing, and I think I’m alright at, but there is not one single thing alone that I’d want to do for the rest of my life.
I’m just someone with many interests, with many creative pursuits. I have a dozen projects on the go at the same time. And I do change my mind all the time. I could never just dive into a single subject for months or years – I totally get how some people can, but it just isn’t for me. But the problem is, I'm just good enough at just enough things to really confuse myself and figure out what makes me different than everyone else. And that's a miserable feeling sometimes.
I don’t have one single true calling, one thing I’m really good at. And I wouldn’t know why – I don’t feel the need to be one thing. Or be defined by one thing. Instead, I have a lot of small things, that sometimes don’t really go together to make for a single big thing. I still often don’t know what to call myself when someone asks (though, I’m still working on my elevator pitch). I might be no good at what people tell me to do. I’m good at doing my own things, and maybe I am good at multitasking, maybe that’s it after all.
That’s because It has never made much sense to me that we’re born with one true calling and that we must find this one true calling and then do only those things that our one true calling calls us to do to the for the rest of our lives.
I do a hundred things at the same time and going from one opportunity to the next, wherever the wind takes me. I don’t know where I’m heading towards. I don't know what's next. But I wouldn’t want to change anything. I wouldn’t want to be good for one thing. I’ve embraced being a ‘multipotentialite’.