Growing up and perhaps even now, you might hear the question, “What is your true passion?” It’s a question that never seems to get old, and one that many of us ask ourselves over and over as time goes by.
Perhaps you’ve always known the answer to this question. Ever since you were five, you wanted to be a doctor or a pilot. Or perhaps you found the answer along the way and it hasn’t changed since. Maybe in college you discovered foreign languages and since then you’ve been a walking Tower of Babel.
But what if you’ve always struggled to answer this question? What if you really can’t just pick one career, one interest, or one hobby?
You might be a Renaissance Soul.
What is a Renaissance Soul?
As outlined in her book, Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life, Margaret Lobenstine defines Renaissance Souls as those whose passion is divided among many different interests. They don’t stick to one thing, but are constantly finding new activities and subject areas to throw themselves into. One day it’s gardening, another day it’s engineering. But the Renaissance Soul doesn’t do these things on a mere whim: they truly immerse themselves in whatever has struck their fancy.
Lobenstine characterizes Renaissance Souls as having the following characteristics:
- They prefer variety
- They like to widen their scope instead of narrowing their focus, gravitating towards what energizes them
- Rather than expanding on their success to become the absolute best in the field, Renaissance Souls move on after they feel they have personally mastered a particular subject.
Renaissance Souls vs. “Mozarts”
The Renaissance Soul stands in opposition to “Mozarts”, those who have narrowed their concentration and become a master in a particular area. These folks may follow a single professional track, gaining more and more expertise along the way. Certain academics, researchers, artists or scientists are great of examples of this (think of the concert pianist who has trained his whole life or the man who spends years studying a single species of worm).
Our culture tends to reward Mozarts and is a little bit harder on Renaissance Souls. As people whose interests constantly change, sometimes they are seen as flighty or unable to settle down. But there are many successful Renaissance Souls out there! Lobenstine uses the example of Ben Franklin, a man who was as keen on inventing as he was publishing newspapers and getting involved in public affairs.
Not sure what you qualify as? Don’t sweat it! Mozart and Ben Franklin are just examples (and admittedly hard role models to live up to). Most people fall somewhere in between the two. But if you’ve struggled for some time not knowing what your one “true” calling is, you may have found a term that applies to your life!
For more information: Check out Lobenstine’s book. She discusses Renaissance Souls in great depth and outlines helpful ways that these individuals can balance all their different interests so as to lead their most successful life!