The Multipotentialite and the Autodidact

“The time has come,” the Multipotentialite said,
“To talk of many things,”

Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And imposter syndrome, of all things.

Yup. Oh the joys of having multiple talents. Of being good at lots of things. Of endless choices.

Or, you know, not so much joy as terrifying dread.

Throw in perfectionism and you might find yourself at a stand still.

Think about it this way: many people stand in a room with maybe a few doors in front of them. Maybe all are wide open, maybe some are stuck or squeaky, but there are a few choices and they all lead to pretty great new rooms.

Now imagine you’re in an endless hall of doors. All of which are perfectly accessible. All of which lead to pretty okay outcomes, yet you have no idea which one to choose. You like several, or maybe many, or maybe you like the ones that are actually locked tight. Then think about the possibility of going through one and not being perfect.

What if you make the wrong choice? What if what you choose, you think you’re good at, but then you find out, perhaps too late, that you suck at it?

And what if you can learn whatever you want just by reading about it, or somehow exploring it in other informal ways?

Enter the Autodidact.

So add these two friends, along with the perfectionist, and you find yourself with a person who informally studies many things and finds themselves interested and, indeed, good at most of those things.

But what if that informal education proves to merely create illusions of grandeur? Cue: Imposter Syndrome.

What a viscous cycle. I’ve already found myself within this cycle in the past 12 hours, particularly regarding this blog.

I wonder, do I know what I’m talking about? Often, if you see a question mark after one of my statements or ideas, that is a clue that I’m worried I’ll be found out. That someone will realize that I don’t know what I’m doing. I haven’t formally studied much beyond a rudimentary level. Most of my knowledge comes from books and websites and I worry that my ideas are completely unfounded because no one has tested me over the material to make sure I truly grasp it. Plus everything you read on the internet is true, right?

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.


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