Is it okay to have a great many interests? I mean, aren’t it the specialists who stand out in a field that really impress us? That really seem like heroes to everyone? And they’d better be famous. Known artists. Athletes. Astronauts. Nobel Prize winners.
People who can’t do this have to think of themselves as losers, right?
Barbara Sher: Refuse to Choose!
Not anymore! Ever since Barbara Sher opened our eyes to “Scanners” in her book Refuse To Choose back in 2006, word has got around: Having many interests is a good thing.
Here’s a video of Barbara on the topic: Are you a Scanner?
Of course, the concept of a Renaissance person isn’t new (obviously), but Barbara was the first one to write about it in modern times in this distinct way, as far as I know.
There are different terms for this old phenomenon: polymath, Scanner, Renaissance person, multipotentialites, multipassionates, all-rounder, and more. And there are growing resources on the Internet.
A Scanner Aha Moment
Personally, I found Barbara’s book in 2009. One big aha-moment! It has changed my life, making me a much happier person. Why is that?
When I first read the book, I had a job in counselling. It didn’t totally satisfy me and was sometimes depressing.
I wanted to do more creative stuff, I wanted to do more healing stuff, I wanted more time with friends and family.
What to do?
I made a huge plan I wanted to go through with to get rid of the job and get more fulfillment in life:
Get qualification, and more qualification, get a degree, become a healing practitioner, build a practice that would support me.
And in the end have spare time to do more creative stuff. ?!
That’s how we think sometimes …
It would have taken me an incredible amount of time, energy and money. Only to provide me with enough time to do my “own stuff” in the end.
But the solution didn’t occur to me until …
The Blessing of the Good Enough Job
It was Barbara Sher’s concept of the Good Enough Job that made me realize I already had that kind of job. It was exactly the definition: Its only mistake was that it wasn’t enough for me.
So I didn’t need to take the long road! There was a short cut: I could support myself with the job I already had and do more of my stuff right now. I didn’t need a dream job. I could do everything and be a happy Scanner.
I turned my job into a Good Enough Job and went on earning money with that certain part of my skills, helping people, being a trouble shooter.
And I immediately increased the amount of creativity in my life.
Since then I have been my own patron, setting myself free to do the healing stuff and the creative stuff and meet the people I love in my spare time.
As Barbara Sher calls the Good Enough Job: “A subsidy to the arts”. This is so beautiful!
Writing this blog about Scanners, HSP and creativity is one of my endeavors.
Being a happy Scanner
To be honest, I had done „my stuff“ before. Of course I had. If you are a Scanner, you cannot be without several projects. I’ve always had a bunch of interests I followed.
It certainly helped that my family consisted of people with many interests.
And interestingly, in my personal life I’m surrounded by people just like me, which is very encouraging.
But I wasn’t quite content with myself before I understood I was okay this way – and that I’d have plenty of time to “use all of my interests, passions, and hobbies to create the life and career of my dreams”, as Barbara Sher puts it in the subtitle of Refuse to Choose.
We need similar people
Because of all of this, I know it is important to have contact with like-minded people.
People who don’t shake their heads when they hear about your many interests. But people who instead say: “O, I do that, too!” or “I want that, too!” or: “Great, do it!”, or “Tell me more about it!”
People with an interestingly long list of interests.
And there are more people like us. Let me give you just one example:
Scanner example: Jade Herriman, artist, coach, and blogger
Such as Jade Herriman, Art therapy, coaching & creative play on https://jadeherriman.com.
- She’s coaching and helping people by using creativity.
- She’s a trained Barbara Sher Coach.
- And she’s a Scanner, artist, and blogger.
Recently she wrote this lovely, lively blog post, interviewing Scanners about how they’ve learnt to feel about themselves: Making a wonderful life as a scanner or renaissance soul.
Reading it, I felt so part of the tribe!
Join the tribe, read the full article here. And check out Jade’s website. There you’ll find more articles like:
- What to do when you have too many ideas (by Jade Heriman)
- What it feels like to be a scanner (by Jade Heriman)
- Embracing a creative life – a wholehearted story (interview with Jade Heriman by Terri Connellan on her blog ‘Quiet Life’)
Scanner example: Andrea Billen (Dreyas World)
„Originally born in the UK, I currently live in rural France, enjoying a simpler life. My influences range from the immediate world around me; nature, countryside, travel, daily experiences, plants and animals, to the variety of things I’ve grown up with; music, books, film, motor sport – particularly Formula One, photography, games, art and crafts, to name just a selection.“
There you have it. A Scanner!
There she writes about her own discovery of being a highly gifted individual: „So since discovering I was a Scanner (and not some kind of freak), I’ve been working on understanding myself and attempting to learn that modern society isn’t set up for me, that I do have to be different, and that I refuse to choose and have to learn how to make life work for me.“
Read Andrea’s article on the topic:
- I Refuse to Choose – Understanding Scanners by Andrea Billen on Dreaysworld – A Scanner’s Life
Where do you find your tribe?
Tell me, do you find yourself in this colorful tribe of Scanners?
What is it you love most about it?
Leave a comment below and let us know.
If you want more Scanners around you, join Barbara Sher’s facebook group Scanners and Renaissance Souls (facebook link). It’s one of the loveliest places on the Internet. 🙂
More articles about Scanners on this page
- Scanners, Renaissance People, Polymaths, Multipotentialites! There Is Hope: Polymath Is The New Normal
- There is no final draft – Keep revising your life, says Felicia Ricci
- Scanner Anniversary: 10 Years, 10 Scanner Lessons (and a Gift)
More to come.
Update: Barbara Sher obituary [German with full English translation.]
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4 Replies to ““Too many interests”? You might be a Scanner, and that’s a wonderful thing”
Wow, this is such a great read, I can totally relate to this. I’ll have to read the book….and get out more to find some like minded people ?
Hey Amy, how wonderful that you find yourself in this! The book is of big help, Barbara Sher covers all kinds of types, problems, and tools of Scanners.
This page is meant to be a home for Scanners – especially if they’re creative people with high ideals and maybe sensitivity – so be sure to come back!
And, to find more like-minded people online and fast, maybe you want to check out Barbara Sher’s group Scanners and Renaissance Souls on facebook:
Thanks for your comment! 🙂 See you again soon.
I just read your blog post about being a scanner. Really enjoyed it!
One thing I’m reminded of when I read comments about Barbara’s book „Refuse to Choose“ (and her other books as well) is that books written a long time ago can be „nuggets of gold“. They’re like a good friend: you never get tired of talking to them and listening to them. With Barbara’s books, I enjoy curling up in a comfortable chair and re-reading them, even sections of them. There is a comfort to what she says and you realize that you don’t have to be ’normal“ to be contented and happy. 🙂
Pat, I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
I feel the same about Barbara’s books. They are „perennial bestsellers“ that always give me the nudge in the right direction: in the direction of true potential and joy. It’s more than enough to be exactly me to be contented and happy. 🙂
Thanks for your lovely comment!