Being Multi-Passionate

Words By Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen

I had been called “nancy-of-many-master-of-none” – not once but many times over.  I’ve had people telling me that I am flaky; changing my vocation every so often. 

I was a dancer and have a degree in Business Management and later, a Post-Graduate Degree in Journalism.  Started my career in the airlines, then the hospitality industry as a communications specialist; stayed on it for more than a decade.  Then, made my move as a trailing spouse, teaching English in Korea and then setting up my events firm in Norway.  Fast forward seven years later, we moved to Malaysia. 

It was then, I realised I have always wanted to learn in-depth yoga so, I took up yoga instructor’s certification and went on to teach for about a year or so.  Another long-time calling came around and I took up Image Branding Consultant certification and started having clients, ranging from individuals to corporate ones.  Having been a writer since I was 18, I am always writing for periodicals in their lifestyle sections, wherever I was in the world.  So a few years later, I was offered to be an Editor for a start-up magazine.  Took up the offer, it flourished, left it and here I am today, owning my magazine title.  Phew, what a journey that was but not without few raised-brows.

Not so long ago, after leaving college an average person joined a company, worked his or her way up and finally joined the upper management.  The said person will not even cast a second look at other companies outside, citing career growth and pre-historical concepts like pensions and accumulated off-days as their pushing factors.

Today, however, career paths are much less conventional.  How many of us can say we have been in a company for more than 6 years?  A very small handful and even smaller if we take in Gen Z or centennials into the equation. 

That said, how many of us list a couple of professional identifiers on our LinkedIn account?  I’ve met many, over the last couple of years dabbling in full-time work and side-hustle at a given time.  

Marci Alboher popularized the phrase, Slash Career in her book, One Person/Multiple Careers.  Be it “writer/singer/florist,” “writer/actor,” or some other amalgamation of combos, Millenials have taken-up what is called the Slash Career.  They are choosing to take more creative, passionate routes to success, breaking the old rules in the process.

So, my question is, does this make you flaky?  Are you being accused of being someone who cannot make up his / her mind when it comes to holding on to a job or a specific industry – that you haven’t had things figured…out yet. Does this make you less credible?

Why should it be?  Many of us, whether we are aware or not, have multiple talents and passion; so, why not make use of the talent and passion to live your best life.  

I was speaking to a friend some days ago, discussing this very topic and something hit me, People who make differences are usually those who are multi-passionate.  Take Leonardo Da Vinci for example; he was an inventor, painter, mathematician, architect amongst other things.  If we are to look into a much recent time, there is Maya Angelou who was a dancer, poet, actor, activist and linguist.  Then, there is James Franco who lists university lecturer, actor, director, author and visual artists in his resume.

If you’re still feeling up-in-the-air about your Slash Career work-life, I have these tips to share to make sense of them altogether.

Embrace your flake

Be real about your journey; stop being ashamed – at least you are living your dreams.  Own the fact that you are multi-passionate.

Be an all-rounded achiever

Whatever skills you’re polishing in an area of your career is most certainly serving you well in your other pursuits.  Working on being a strong writer, makes you a better speaker.   Look into each one of your vocations; every one of them enhances the other, arming you with a robust skillset.

Position yourself properly

Treat your multi-passionateness as a strength rather than weakness.  Show the world that there is absolutely nothing wrong with living all your dreams at the same time.  Life is short; do what sets your soul on fire!

Know that you’ll never be bored

Having multiple vocations energizes different parts of your brain and keeps your creative juices flowing.  You can always turn to the other career if you are a little unenthused with one, to find new inspiration.

You’re more interesting

Staying engaged in different types of vocations means you’re being informed in hosts of areas and collecting life experiences at a faster rate than if you are devoted to one job.

One thing all my multi-passionate aficionados should know is that you can balance being a multi-passionate individual. The very things you’re passionate and curious about, they are truly not by chance those might be your calling.

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