I (Val) had sat down to write to you about why multipassionates and multipotentialites like us exist (from a “spiritual” viewpoint, that is).
But as I stared at the blinking cursor in front of me, all I could think of was the moment when I was in the hospital when I was 14.
I’d passed out at the school’s annual cross country run and was hospitalized.
After days of blood tests, MRIs, X-rays, and all sorts of machines hooked on and off me, the doctor was finally ready with his diagnosis.
“Your daughter has thalassemia, an incurable blood disorder that’s genetically inherited from the parents…”
As the doctor continued explaining the implications of my condition and how to navigate it –
All I heard was a deafening silence as my parents turned and glanced at me.
Because in that split second when I caught my Dad’s eye, I saw guilt.
I felt shame.
My Dad never looked at me the same way again.
(Actually, he never looked at me if he could help it.)
It was as if every time he did, he saw the fault he created in me. Like I was a painful reminder of his “bad genes” – something as primal as the very existence of himself.
And I interpreted it as:
“My Dad’s ashamed of me.”
So began my quest to make my Dad proud of me again.
In the year that followed, in between hospital visits I…
- Won the national youth arts festival distinction with honors award, making the record of being the youngest artist to get the award. There was an award ceremony and all the fanfare along with it.
- Won the paper of the year award in an elite youth mentorship program where they paired select youths with a phD student in the top university in Singapore to research and write a paper. I had my own goggles and lab coat, and got to explode chemicals behind glass screens.
- Won a spot in the Ministry of Education TV channel as an in-house actress and host, where I was a regular on national screens, and brought home $500 per day checks.
- Won first prize at a national science fair, where I led a team of peers to create a closed-loop fully sustainable compost system, and got featured in the papers.
With each endeavor, I thought I would make my parents proud…
“My daughter shook hands with the President himself!”
“My daughter was doing phD work at the top university at 14 years old!”
“My daughter kicked the boys’ asses at a STEM competition!”
“My daughter is on TV and getting paid big bucks for it!”
But my parents did not attend a single event. Not one.
On the outside, I was a well-rounded student with above-par grades, who had achieved excellence in arts, in STEM, in community.
I was good at everything, yet I felt like a good for nothing.
I went on to graduate into the top 1% schools and classes in the nation.
I continued to win scholarships, hoping that my parents would eventually show up at one of the award ceremonies.
I continued to act, and eventually wrote songs, sang, and danced on stages big and small, hoping that my parents would eventually show up at one of the performances. Or maybe flip to the TV channel I was on.
I even started, grew, and sold my own business when I was in college, hoping that the money they always seem to be busy making (and therefore couldn’t come to any of my events) would make a difference.
Just before I graduated, I received 3 job offers from the top creative agencies in Asia.
A talent agency had also offered me an artiste contract.
Somehow, I had an early onset of the quarter-life crises, and I couldn’t do it anymore.
I looked at my colorful resume, filled with awards, achievements, and accolades I’d collected over the years…
And nothing made sense to me.
I even went with my healer aunt to the big temple to seek divine advice:
“Her path ahead is going to be difficult. Choose wisely.”
(As far as I was concerned, the path I was on had never been easy. #someadvice)
That night, I went to my Dad to tell him what happened.
Before I could say anything, I broke down in tears and sobbed, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do!”
He replied, “You’ve spent your time and energies on so many different things over the years. I don’t even know what it is that you really want to do with your life.
Just make up your mind.
Pick one and master it.”
I turned and walked promptly back to my room, raging inside…
Don’t you see??? It’s not that I couldn’t “make up my mind”.
My mind made itself up years ago dammit!
It was set on making you guys proud again!
I tried to excel at so many different things because I don’t know which one will be IT.
That ONE THING that will reverse that doctor’s diagnosis, that look in my Dad’s eyes, and the shame that I felt for my very existence.
At the heart of it all, we’re all searching for IT, aren’t we?
That ONE THING we were meant to do in life…
That will give us everything life promises – security, community, respect, love, joy, worthiness, identity, celebration, love… and yes, love.
And fix anything that is broken – our bank accounts, our relationships, our integrity, our society, our hearts… ourselves.
They package all of that up and call it your Life Purpose on shelves in the self-help section of bookstores (or amazon dot com).
They ask you, “What are you good at?”
My answer: Everything.
Walk over to the next aisle at the spirituality section (or click over to SuperSoulSunday), and you’ll find the same thing called your Divine Soul Purpose.
They ask you, “What are you good for?”
My answer: Nothing.
That really f*cked me up.
Because, does that mean that I spent all that time and energy excelling at everything, only to end up at nowhere, with nothing, no big, visionary, purpose to fulfill in the world?
I wasn’t even sure if I excelled at each activity because I was passionate about them; or if I was passionate about them because I excelled at them.
I suspect if, you’re a multipassionate multipotentialite like me, you share similar sentiments, too.
So here’s the thing:
What if there isn’t that ONE THING?
That we could possibly be meant to do MANY THINGS (as opposed to ONE THING)?
More precisely, we were meant to do EVERYTHING that we did.
That we weren’t born with a pre-mandated world-changing destiny to fulfill (and it most certainly wasn’t our job to go find it)?
Because our very existence itself has already irrevocably changed the world.
“There has never been, and will never be, another version of you.” — Marie Forleo
(The world pre-you could never be the same as the world with you – yes?)
All I wanted was for my Dad to look me in the eye, give me a pat on my back and tell me, “Well done my girl! I’m so proud of you!”
I was trying to validate my Dad’s existence by glorifying mine.
That even though he’s “genetically flawed” – It’s ok Pa! Look I turned out fine! Way better than you could have ever imagined, better than you, in fact. *smirk* Am I worthy of your attention and love now???
I took the shame he projected on me as mine and went on a #missionimpossible to fix it.
When I made peace with this one thing that drove everything else that I did in life…
I finally understood:
There isn’t ONE thing you were meant to do in life.
Because we were born with everything life promises – life. Period.
And because we ain’t broken. Period that, too.
Sometimes, we mistake our quest for approval, as a quest for our purpose in life.
Sometimes, we mistake our quest of worthiness, as a quest for our purpose in life.
Sometimes, we mistake our quest to be loved by others, as a quest for our purpose in life.
What then, is our purpose in life?
Tay and I will be sharing our take on it during the free masterclass series in a couple of weeks.
But for now, I’d love to hear from you:
We honor your stories (all the detours, the zigs, and the zags) and read every word.
In fact, your stories will co-create the masterclass with us.
After all, we’re all in this together – and uplifting you – strengthens us all.
With so much love,