Identity Diversification and Multiple Potentials2019/04/10
Go to school. Study hard. Graduate. Get a job. Go home. Repeat next day and for years. Congratulations! You just made money you can call your own - now save it, don’t spend too much. Over time, you can be promoted and get a raise! Over time, you are likely to take pride in your job title. A job title some authority gives you… And even if jobs change the title continues and you can continue in other companies, making it a "career". What happens, when this career ends however? What identity did we create for ourselves?
Let’s go back and look at that money made and saved. As time passes, by virtue of logic, you will simply "have money". Great! And to be smarter with this money? Some people invest in various assets in hope of making more money. Some want "multiple streams of income" and make multiple diverse investments - in hopes of minimizing risk and loss, this would be "portfolio diversification." Also, great! The goal is to make additional money while you sleep! If you lose your job (the main source of income), you still have other valuable assets that can hopefully make money - they are not related to the job.
This all sounds great in theory. And, the concept has me thinking… all the time and effort it takes to manage and develop this thing called money. What would be possible … if people viewed themselves just as valuable? What if cultivated ourselves with the same vigor we put into creating financial wealth? If the job is lost and the title disappears and the career is over — who are we then? If there is no salary job, and one is overly invested as a mother or father but then the children are grown and leave the house — what becomes of the identity?
It is in my life experience that perhaps a single identity is not meant for me. My life journey is diverse - perhaps, just like financial portfolio diversification, there is much value in "Identity Diversification". Said in another way pertaining to skills, the concept is also called ‘Multi-potentiality’, and even has a page on wikipedia.com, which states: Multi-potentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields. It someone who, when provided with appropriate environments, can select and develop a number of competencies to a high level. "Multi-potentialites" (people who have multiple potentials) thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. This makes them incredible innovators and problem solvers.
I have found infinite wealth in being a multi-faceted diamond. After all, natural diamonds are created by high pressure and heat - it takes quite a lot of effort, just like it takes decades to master an art or skill.
To be honest, I don’t think I know what it would be like to have one singular identity. I have little memories growing up in Taiwan, but I lived with the culture at home. When I walked out the door I was in America. So instead of holding on to being only Taiwanese I knew from a young age that I was Taiwanese-American. When visiting Taiwan I was not considered Taiwanese. When in America, I definitely was not accepted as white nor black American.
When I finally left my small home town to go to college in the big city of Philadelphia, I was 18 years of age. I faced a whirlwind of confusion because a huge world opened up to me. Strangely, I lived less than one full year as a typical college student: go to class, live in dorms on campus, date cute boys (while unknowingly crushing on my female friends). All that changed on my 19th birthday. Thanks to my reputation as a promoter of events on campus, I was invited to join a meeting of promoters to work for the hottest New York style nightclub in town. I was so honored to be accepted under the USA legal age of 21, that I never drank alcohol nor took drugs - this was business for me. It was here at Shampoo Nightclub where I learned to change my outward appearance like a chameleon. It was here that I was a college student AND I was a club promoter AND I worked for a marketing company all at the same time. Before I even graduated college I was the manager of the entire city for this marketing company.
In America, we do not take tests in school that point to what profession might be good for us. I definitely did not want to follow in my father’s footsteps and go into accounting. For better or worse, I stumbled along the way and it took me longer to even understand that I was a 'multi-potentialite'. On the other hand, there are some people who are meant to have one specialty in life and that is wonderful too.
I would not change a thing if I had to go back in time because this way of living had me expand from “either this OR that” mindset to “this AND that”. Things really got interesting when I accidentally started performing as “Wang Newton” (when a successful Halloween costume grabbed people’s attention, and I just continued dressing like a man). This wouldn’t have continued for more than a year if I did not get get corporate gigs at $175 per hour, or have several newspapers interview me. I took it as a sign that I was on the right track.
Yes, in the 14 years of performing, I still had an office job - several! Each time I’d work for almost 2 years, hate it, then quit. My upbringing (and you could say Taiwanese culture) did not allow me to realize that I was an *artist*. I constantly create. Events, experiences, joy, laughter, memories. At some point during the lifespan of "Wang", I took an unexpected hiatus doing what multi-potentialities do: get obsessed with a subject, learn it quickly, and master it. I became engrossed in the study of shamanism, meditation, energy healing. During this time I still had some office work and still "created", like planning retreats and taking people to Central America. I did not solely identify as “drag king Wang” and thus did not mourn the pause on performing. I did not identify as a “healer” so did not mourn when I committed to a high level corporate job and paused on taking breath meditation clients (don’t worry, Wang returned to the stage with a vengeance during this time).
I may never understand what it’s like to have just one job. It’s too late to try to be some way that I naturally am not. I do not have children and I do not own a house or physical building. I am not obligated to one location, and so I am of the world…. I do not have one specialty, I am a master of many things. I am not obligated to reach for some job title some authority gives me - I am my own identity. Only time will tell what I will master next and what my lasting legacy will be. All you ever need to do is to Shine Bright Like a Diamond. This is the only wealth your Soul cares about.
■Text/ Dr. Wang Newton‧Phto／ Hedy Chang