It’s a word I think about a lot as a parent. What could my boys become someday? What can they accomplish? Who will they be?
When parenting my gifted children, it feels like there are so many possibilities for the future.
My triplet boys are 9, and my youngest son is 6. I wait with anticipation as they attempt different things. I know that they are years away from college and careers, but I can’t help wondering. Maybe this will be it? You know? THE THING. Their calling. The thing that lights their soul on fire, and makes their heart sing.
The thing they are meant to do to live up to their potential.
I asked them what they want to be when they grow up. one boy wants to be a writer. One boy wants to be a teacher. One boy wants to be a dentist. One boy wants to be a billionaire inventor, and live in a mansion like Ironman, Tony Stark. That son says that he’ll have room for my husband and I if we want “to come visit occasionally”. He’s even generously offered to, “give us a high interest loan from his billions if we need one”.
I’d like to laugh in amusement, but he’s dead serious, and I could see it as a possibility for him to become a real life version of Tony Stark. Hopefully, minus the playboy aspect.
My boys are young enough that looking towards their future, I see endless potential and possibilities. As a gifted person, sometimes all of those possibilities for the future and potential for what to do or be can feel overwhelming.
I used to believe that I had to choose just one thing, THE THING to do with my life, and stick with it.
My uncertainty about how to define what I do or label how I spend my time seems scattered when compared to the self determination of most of my gifted peers I’ve known since 7th grade honor’s block class with Mr. Cheney.
My friend Kendra’s a cardiovascular surgeon. She wanted to be a doctor.
My friend Brandy is an attorney with a law degree from Harvard. She wanted to be a lawyer.
My friend Jen earned a doctorate and is a college choral director. She loved to sing, and was passionate about music.
I could continue to list the impressive career accomplishments of my gifted peers. They are pretty amazing. That’s not really the point.
Sometimes, the path to what to be when you grow up isn’t so clear as it was when you were a child.
It can also be easier at times to see the bright and shiny potential and possibilities in a child’s future more easily than in our own. We become creatures of habit, and it can be difficult to shift from the well worn, comfortable path. Being uncomfortable, and pushing ourselves to try something new is when we grow the most… or at least I do. I like the consistency of routine, but I upend my life if it feels too comfortable.
At 12, I wanted to be a writer. At 40, I am a writer, and I feel like it’s A THING I am meant to do, but it’s not THE THING.
There’s freedom that comes with multipotentiality. It’s the freedom to explore what’s possible. Writing has brought me closer to whatever that unnamed future next thing may be. It’s not just one thing. There’s so much more that I want to learn to do, explore and become as I age.
For instance, I want to learn the art of beekeeping.
I want to weld metal art sculptures.
I want to give a TED talk that goes viral.
I want to have another child.
I want to produce artisan goat milk cheese.
I think about this quote from Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben a lot. Maybe a high IQ, or being a multipotentialite isn’t a great power quite like climbing walls or flinging spiderwebs from your wrists, but it does come with it’s own issues, and responsibilities.
When you are a gifted individual, or the parent of one, there are so many options about what you can do. There’s so much possibility and potential it can be overwhelming to choose, or to feel content with our choices.
During my recent visit home, I found a school newsletter from 2nd grade. It featured predictions about when I grow up from me, and some of my classmates. I was surprised when I read about what I wanted for my future life.
“When I grow up I want to dance. I want to be the hit of Broadway! My house will be a mansion. It will have a hot tub. I will have three kids! I will get married to someone who went on a mission and will be married in the temple. We will have a limo and a Mazda RX7. My hobbies will be dancing and driving.”
My two bedroom condo wouldn’t qualify as a mansion. And, last I checked, a minivan isn’t a sports car or limo.
At 7, I believed that anything was possible for my life, and it was. My mom never told me that I couldn’t accomplish something.
They’re enough naysayers out there already.
I think that most adults could use some more anything is possible thinking about their own lives.
The truth is, as a parent, I can influence, and persuade, but I can’t decide my boy’s future career paths.
I’ve had difficulty enough with finding my own.
Maybe, occupations for my sons will be exactly what they hoped for someday- a writer, a teacher, a dentist, and a billionaire inventor.
Whether they pursue specialization with passion and precision, like some of my gifted friends, or a circuitous career path of multipotentiality, like their mother, I will support their decisions, and encourage them.
Regardless of the outcome, I would love to be publicly thanked for my support someday.
This award wouldn’t have been possible without the loving support from my mother.
Maybe, they can use that line in their Tony award acceptance speech someday …or I can.
This post is part of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Monthly blog hop series. This month’s theme is Multipotentiality. You can read more by clicking here or the graphic below.