If you couldn’t tell after reading a few posts on my blog, I identify very strongly as a generalist or multipotentialite. Variety excites me like nothing else and I get bored very quickly.
I always say that my generalist journey started in college. I felt most like myself when I was in college because I was making the most out of my time there. For me, that meant variety. I had two majors and a minor, studied abroad in two different countries, and had no fewer than 2 jobs on campus at any given time after my freshman year. I was running myself ragged, but I was loving every second of it.
There was nothing like the feeling of leaving my room before sunrise, coming back at 10pm, and passing out on my bed, knowing that I had lived that day to the fullest. There was nothing more I could’ve done. I did all the things.
In my career, I struggled with variety as well. Out of college, I worked for a corporate logistics company, and I wasn’t thrilled with the work nor the lack of variety. When I started applying for other jobs, I felt dismayed because every job description was too restrictive. When I finally started working full time for a startup and they drafted my job description, I insisted that they add a bullet point that said “other tasks as required” just so that I didn’t feel pigeonholed.
In this position, I felt as though I was truly living that college life that I loved. I was doing various different things throughout the day, I was learning a ton, and I was never bored! It was perfect.
Now that I am a career startup generalist and living my best generalist life, I’ve been giving a lot more thought to how being a generalist affects other facets of my life. This craving for variety seems to span across my entire life experience, and I want to understand it fully. What other parts of my life have been affected by my generalist ways?
When I was introduced to the idea of polyamory, I realized that it fit well with the lifestyle of variety I enjoyed so much. It took me a long time to equate this with my generalist nature and reconcile how polyamory fit in, but I knew that monogamy wouldn’t provide the variety I craved.
Considering the fact that polyamory clearly exemplifies this need for variety, I’ve started to wonder if generalists are more prone to practicing polyamory (a topic that I plan on doing a deep dive on, at some point). When you crave variety constantly, does that mean you crave it in your relationships, too?
I brought this up to my generalist boss, a staunch monogamist, recently, and after thinking about it for a bit, she decided that her love life was the one place where she wanted stability. If everything else was full of variety and chaos, at least her home life with her spouse could be stable and unchanging. It was comforting to her.
Obviously, my boss (and everyone else), is entitled to what she wants in life, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she was the outlier or if I was. Maybe my theory was wrong. Maybe generalists aren’t more prone to being polyamorous…or maybe I’m just odd for wanting variety in every aspect of my life.
But after sitting with this question for a while, I had a realization. I do also have a comfortable and unchanging anchor: the media I consume.
It’s no secret that I am a chronic rewatcher. I’m currently rewatching Modern Family for the 80th time (after I just finished it last week). Sometimes, I reread books. Sometimes, I replay video games. Sometimes, I redo puzzles. Sometimes, I watch the same movies (when I feel like watching a movie, which is never). While I desperately need variety in most other aspects of my life, my craving for predictability is in the media that I consume.
Predictability provides comfort, and while I typically don’t seek out predictability, sometimes, life just needs to feel cozy and comfortable. Even if the rest of my life is spinning chaotically with my different job functions, various friends and social activities, and variety of different exercise routines (seriously, I cannot stress enough how hard it is to do the same exercise routine over and over), at least I know that I can sit on the couch and relive the same storylines with the same characters ad nauseum. The comfort of my favorite shows, books, video games, and puzzles enable me to enjoy all of the spicy variety life has to offer.
Now, I understand where my boss was coming from when it comes to having one stable thing in her life. Maybe generalists can only handle too much variety…or maybe I’m not as much of a generalist as I think!
So the new question I need to answer is: do all generalists need a “Generalist Anchor?”