As triggering as the title may be, as sufficiently true it is. With a growing obsession on finding our pathway in life, and an ever-expanding discomfort with not having found it, this piece felt relevant. This pathway is often linked to the point in our lives in which we cross paths with our “passion.” And the continued emphasis placed on this inherently flawed idea has made many lose touch with the bigger picture, and the ones in between.
As we grow older we often find ourselves mentally occupied by this idea that we must find our “passion,” and that this is the end goal. It can’t be. This culturally exaggerated notion of “passion” has become a benchmark against which we make our decisions, irrespective of whether or not they work, and irrespective of whether or not they make us happy. Should such a fundamentally incoherent idea come in the way of our happiness or the means by which we would otherwise choose to live our lives? For many yes, and for others no. Whatever side of the coin you’re on is not the question at hand, but it is whether or not your choice has been driven by fear, rigid familiarities, or an intolerance of the uncertainty that is inevitably life.
So why are we so obsessed with this idea of “passion?”
And why do we often find ourselves frustrated when we’re hit with the realization that we haven’t found it yet?
It has become increasingly believed that there is one way to go about your career, your life, your interests, or however way you wish to phrase it. And if you don’t find that, then you’re not “there” yet. But the truth is, there is no final “there” in life to get to.
Since the age of five, I was determined to become a lawyer. It felt natural to believe that firmly, given the combination of my argumentative, persuasive, and linguistic skills. As time went on, I had these mixed feelings about it. The competitive scene, the fact that my idea of law did not match how it actually was, and the fact that it may just practically meet my financial needs. But, at the time, I couldn’t even dare to toy around with that idea because that would mean giving up on my “dream.” And not just that, but it would also mean that I would lose my sense of “identity” if I were to choose anything else. I realized later that this was definitely not the case.
I started transitioning from philosophy, which to this day I love deeply and hold dearly due to its systematic and logically coherent nature that gives my mind this inexplicable high. And then I realized that I could also pursue writing on its own. After that, I thought of marketing and exercising my creativity, and then went onto screenwriting and directing to make my ideas tangible. It went on and on, and I just couldn’t embrace some, all, or any of them for the simple fact that I was convinced there was only “one” out there for me.
Is law who I’m meant to be? Is marketing a more feasible and practical job, and one I would also enjoy at least? Maybe I could help my father’s business? But screenwriting would be a real challenge, shouldn’t I go for that? Or should I write a book and become famous? The questions went on and on, yet there was no right answer.
So why can’t you do one or the other, or do two or more?
Why does your passion have to be limited to your career?
At a closer look, you may realize that what is seemingly “meant for us” is not necessarily what has to be. Your career does not have to be your passion, and your passion doesn’t have to be your career. Your passion could fall into many categories. And you can change the categories into which they fall however many times you feel fit. After all, passion is one part of our lives, and it’s a big part of it too, but it is not everything.
People don’t always have the luxury to exercise their passion for many reasons. One being that it may not be feasible, and others being that it simply no longer fits. It is not crucial to follow the “obvious” pathway, because this level of clarity does not exist for everyone. Some people are lucky enough to find it, and some simply aren’t. I simply don’t believe that the goal in life is to find our passion, but it is to enjoy it. This enjoyment may come from this very passion, but it may also come from other things too. And this is not to say that we should surrender to our fate of “impressing our parents” or having an “impressive job,” because these things may also not bring happiness either. More accurately, it is to say that it’s okay to do something that you may not be head over heels about, but at least you enjoy it. It’s simply about whether or not it works and whether or not it makes you happy, rather than whether or not it aligns to society or our own rigidities that have deemed it “supposed to be.”
So is there such a thing as passion? For sure. Should it be the emphasis of your lives? For many, yes. But does it have to be? Most definitely not. To be passionate is to wake up in the morning and be fueled by the mere thought of something, and that something could be whatever you want it to be. With all this in mind, enjoy the process. Enjoy the trial and error. Enjoy not knowing what you do or don’t want to do. Enjoy being lost. Enjoy changing your mind, over and over again, no matter how many times. Enjoy whatever enjoys you, even if it doesn’t make sense on paper. And finally, enjoy the very fact that there are a million ways to go about your passion, and never quite finding that way could be one.