7 Ways to Tell if You Are a Polymath

If you are an artist or a creative, chances are you may be a polymath. But what exactly does it mean?

No, it’s not really all about being an expert in Math. A Polymath is someone whose expertise lies in not only one, but many subjects.

7 Ways to Tell You are a Polymath

At times, this term is used synonymously with ‘multipotentialite’ ,referring to a person with many interests and creative pursuits.

But really, the two terms are different. A multipotentialite person dabbles in different areas of interests and does not necessarily have to master everything. But to be a polymath, you must be an expert in ALL of your pursued interests.

7 Ways to Tell You are a Polymath

7 Ways to Tell You are a Polymath

So how can you tell if you are a polymath?

1. You always want to learn something new.

A polymath’s brain is wired to always seek new things to learn, very similar to multipotentialites. These type of people have  perpetual hunger to improve their skills. They either have long lists of books to read or are subscribed to different online articles or blogs.

Fact: Because of their high level of intellectual performance, polymaths are common to have high educational attainment.

2. You are mostly self-taught.

Most polymaths tend to be self-taught ,which also translates to them being called autodidact. Autodidacticism is the art of self-directed learning. They learn and acquire their skills without going to formal institutions.

Why? It’s because a polymath’s curiosity and interest to learn something new everyday drives him/her to read. A lot. Their hunger for new information pushes them to self-learn.

For the modern-day autodidact, the internet is booming with free educational resources. Just look at all the tutorials in different genres available on YouTube, the free recipes shared by lifestyle websites that you can try at home without going to culinary school, and the different blogs focusing on a specific niche that are there to educate.

The internet is truly my sole buddy when it comes to the art of self-education. It’s where I learned how to draw, paint, sculpt, crochet, knit, and do all sorts of things related to arts and crafts.

3. You want to fill any gaps in your knowledge.

Do you often have moments where you suddenly have a question in your head and you couldn’t settle unless you find the answer?

Most non-polymaths just forget the question and move on, except when they’re compelled to research about it. But you, you are passionately curious so you open your phone’s web browser in the middle of a grocery shopping and you pause… and you google.

Sounds familiar? I like to call this inquiry-based learning. You fill the gaps in your knowledge by answering day-to-day random questions.

4. You have little interest in petty socialising.

Instead, you spend much of your time researching subjects of interest. You would rather choose to stay at home than go out and involve yourself in shallow, small talks.

You’re looking for ‘meat’ in every conversation, but petty talks are common in social gatherings so you avoid them. Sounds like you?

5. You are interested in different hobbies and you don’t only pursue them, you master all of them.

The most renowned polymath was Italian renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, the one who painted the most sung about artwork in history: The Mona Lisa painting.

He isn’t only a master painter, he is also an engineer, anatomist, biologist, physicist, architect, geologist, and astronomer. His accomplishments and skills are just way beyond almost anyone’s league.

But you don’t have to be a genius like da Vinci to be a polymath. You could just be an ordinary person but master in at least three or four chosen fields.

6. You are highly creative.

Imagine mastering two subject areas and combining the concepts mastered from those different areas to one creative concept?

Developing multiple talents often result in a creative combination that will rarely happen if a person is only master to one subject area.

7. No one gets you

Because of these traits, people have a hard time understanding you. You always feel like you don’t belong. People think you’re weird or antisocial, but the truth is, they just couldn’t comprehend you!

I love this quote which I believe all polymaths can relate:

7 Ways to Tell You are a Polymath

7 Ways to Tell You are a Polymath

 

If you’ve answered at least 5 YES to the above, you are definitely a polymath!

I would love to hear from you and your story. Hit me a message!

Comments

    • Rashmi Sharma says

      I am a medical physiotherapist doing a PhD in computational neuroscience and I make excellent fine art, painting. I came across the word because I feel like everyone is trying to put me in a box but I don’t know what to do with my life. I don’t want to sacrifice any part of me, I cannot be happy
      Without any of it. Can you suggest what to read so I can make decisions of life.

      • Kriz Eliz says

        Rashmi, thanks for your comment. I highly recommend you read my other article https://krizeliz.com/createalifeyoulove/ as I think it will help you decide how to live the life you love. I am also currently reading Oprah’s new book The Path Made Clear. This book will help you discover your life’s direction and purpose. I can resonate with you because I too was in your shoe. If you ever want to discuss it further, please email me at create@krizeliz.com . I read and reply to all my emails. All the very best!

  1. Robert T Deloyd says

    I was doing research on a book I am writing when I came across your article. I was searching for the right word to use to describe a gifted character in the book.
    I never considered myself a polymath or special, but in reading the 7 ways I found I felt comfortable with each one.
    Thank you for revealing this to me.

  2. Philip says

    Nice one, Kriz. What used to be called ‘polymathy’ is now called by long names in academia. I came across your blog while half-listening to a windy lecture about ‘inter-disciplinarity’, ‘global entanglement’ and ‘multifactorial threads’. I like your seven characteristics of a polymath, and I wish I could apply all seven to my skill-set — I just about make five… Best regards from a mostly empty, echoing lecture auditorium the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

  3. Lily Stricklin says

    I can speak on many subjects with depth and clarity, ranging from biology, math, statistics, art, art history, computer science, etc. I have been an artist since I was a child and am very adept in illustration, both traditional and digital and varying in many styles. I am also a computer scientist and software developer. I am pretty good at math, and I enjoy applied calculus. I enjoy writing and receiving feedback to grow as a better writer. I craft, I sing (I used to be in acting and musical theater), I like to build things… and I constantly want to know more. Lol I have never felt satisfied with what I know. I was never sure if there was a word for someone like me, and even thinking I could be a polymath seems like I’m bragging or something. :/

    • Lily Stricklin says

      Oh!! And I’ve also combined skills to make new skills too… Like, I’ve built videogames and tactile card games too using my skillsets in game logic, programming, and art software… Forgot about that. Lol

  4. WeiDi says

    Wow ure just exaclty like me Stricklin! And thanks Kris now I found myself! After going though all the comments, I’m confident in a polymath indeed!

    By profession I’m a geophysicist, geologist, imaging engineer and computer science enthusiast.

    I am gifted in art and music, traditionally and digitally, too. I excelled in painting, drawing, graphic design, anything visual. I play piano by ear, compose simple music, all self thought. Yes am am enthusiast programer too, code to make games, code for physics and often combine my artistic yet logic programming skill to make creative apps or to visualise data. Mostly self thought. Also have a strong passion in natural sciences at a very young age (I like to watch and sketch human and animal anatomy as a toddler, and my love for biology, marine life and astronomy is tremendous)

    And I can talk about alot of things in depth yet connection dots In a new universal perspective: science, culture, religion, economy, phaycology, etc.

    I have tonnes of hobbies that I persue passionately too: fitness (creating my new techniques), swimming, free diving, scuba diving, kayaking, cooking (creating new reciepe), photography, aquascaping, etc.

  5. Nathan B Miller says

    Someone asked me today if I had heard this term since it was “so you” as they put. Well each of these points made me audibly laugh as they were right on the money. I feel like a never-ending quest of answers or solutions to situations which has made me a sudo go-to guy at my office from fixing computers/cell phones and tablets to medical equipment. I am not one for meaningless small talk and prefer my own solitude when the time allows and don’t tend to “hit the town” with my friends…to whom have become accustomed to my nuances(I keep all their electronics alive). I have a workshop/desk area with several projects going that spurs my interests even further like building micro-computers or knolling out devices to get a better idea of how they work.
    So…a polymath…also explains perfectly the things that I get all excited about gets me 1,000 yard stares from people.

  6. H says

    I am 14. Still, I have many hobbies and interests. Including Chess, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Graffiti, Animation, painting, Editing, Story writing, music, and rapping. I am one of the best in my school in grades. Especially in math, English, and Chemist. I have learned the Norwegian language in my first year of being here. I have taught my self Urdu and English. I have learned to program by myself. I have a high level of logic and reasoning. If I am not a polymath what am I?

  7. A.J. Kposowa says

    Wow! I think all 7 points apply to me but I still consider myself a polymath-in-training.
    Mostly taught myself to draw, write stories, a little poetry, write/draw with my left hand (I can use both hands by now).
    Besides having something for creative ideas and potential for art I’ve been a big reader as a kid, especially for religious and spiritual subjects. I’ve for example read the entire Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, A Course in Miracles, significant volumes of other religions, philosophies and “ways.” Have read 24 books this year on various subjects, (sci-fi, biographies, fiction, etc.) began and counting.
    I’m learning 3 languages: French, Chinese and Arabic. First started Mandarin Chinese to work for a year in Beijing, French is needed for my internship in Paris later this year, and Arabic for a future place in the future.
    I’ve exercised even as a little kid, have my specific goals and try out new stuff to become more athletic. Sprinting and one-hand pushups are my current favorites. I haven’t been in sports in school or university but the gym would be a hotspot for me (closed for a time now)!
    Yoga- been at it for over a year to do the splits, criss cross better and looking forward in daily/nightly practice.
    All of these are self-taught.
    I used to struggle in math and science in school but really want to tackle those in the future alongside the other STEM and IT stuff. There are still many interests beyond these.

    So, am I a polymath?

  8. Ronie Vincent Horca says

    I like this article, I feel that number 7 very much. To introduce myself: I taught myself how to draw when I was around 2 or 3 yrs old. learned playing card games through mere observation when I was 4, and taught myself cursive writing when I was 5. I gained a reputation in school (not just in academics) but most of all arts: painting, sculpture, poster making, writing (essay and school papers), shirt and room design, diorama, and even theater arts (won lots of awards). When I was in high school I taught myself how to sing well, since my family always teased me, then I got discovered to join a rock band as vocalist, and also learned how to play guitar.

    When I was in college, since my best options: fine arts and architecture are expensive, I simply took civil engineering since I also love math and physics. I also learned sales and marketing in college when I did buy & sell to earn some money, I also learned martial arts, soccer, frisbee, and boxing for fun and exercise. Then for a short time, I did a part-time stint as an article writer, since I’ve always been a writer.

    When I graduated college, realizing that I don’t like the culture of civil engineering especially in our country, I taught myself software engineering instead, which my family disagreed and thought to be impossible, especially the idea of a self-taught getting a job. That same year, I was hired by a Japanese company as a software engineer. Through curiosity, I also taught myself DevOps Engineering (a new advanced field in IT) which is my current job, earning a good amount of money. Since I worked on a Japanese company, I took some Japanese classes (didn’t finish though). Then I taught myself trading since I’m a DevOps Engineer working on a company that does cryptocurrency trades.

    Nowadays, during the coronavirus pandemic, I decided to donate CPU cores to a biotech scientist’s project, afterwards because of my interest in the project, I joined a global zoom meeting of all engineers in this biotech project to aid against the virus. From that moment, I’ve been contributing to this project and learning Biotechnology on my own.

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