he infamous p-word; a worthy adversary for any young mind growing up in the world today. Passion is something that many of us desire, but have difficulty finding.
I’ve had many struggles with finding it myself. I was pretty much obsessed with the idea throughout college and my early career, trying to find that one passion, that one thing that ruled them all. It was FRUSTRATING.
Who wants to spend day after day asking themselves: I don’t know what to do with my life! What is my true calling? Do I even have a passion?
It’s daunting and demoralizing, all doom and gloom. The good news is, there is a better way. A better way to seek out your passion. A better way to perceive what passion really is. It all begins with curiosity.
assion is supposed to be the thing that we love to do, all day, every day. Something that we can get lost in for hours, without noticing. Passion is something that brings us happiness. (No wonder we’re all obsessed with it!) And finally, passion is coveted because it has been made out to be the key to unlocking all things great in your life.
Talk about pressure.
Now that is all great and dandy. Passion is awesome – I’m on board with that. But how do we find what we are passionate about? Sometimes, it’s not so easy.
Perhaps what we should be talking about instead is curiosity. Curiosity is the best guide you can have in life because it can not only lead you to your passion, but it can ease the pressure as you do so.
Curiosity is what makes you search for things on Wikipedia. Curiosity is what entices you to try that new restaurant. Curiosity is what leads you to learning a new skill. The things you do just because you’re interested, are driven by curiosity. Nothing more, nothing less.
There’s no overthinking about where this fits into your life or analyzing the pros and cons of the decision. There’s no pressure that what you’re exploring has to be your true calling. You just do it because you want to. If you think back to your childhood and how you made decisions then, there was no deliberation. If you wanted to do something, you just did it. You didn’t take hours to think about that decision, to make sure it was right or to make sure it made sense.
If you don’t have an obvious passion, follow your curiosity.Elizabeth Gilbert
That is the beauty of curiosity. It’s simple and straightforward. Asking yourself, What am I curious about? is far easier to answer than asking yourself, What am I passionate about? Moreover, I believe that any great passion will begin as a curiosity, so what better way to search for your passion, than by beginning to identify what provokes your curiosity?
Following your curiosity is more interesting, less stressful, and will take you on an amazing journey – a journey of exploration that will give you knowledge, pleasure and experiences that would otherwise be lost. You never know where you’ll end up.
You may find your passion along the way, or you may not, but it will definitely be worthwhile!
hile following your curiosity is a big step in the right direction in finding your passion, the second step is paying attention.
The fact is, many of us have probably already stumbled upon our passion without realizing or acknowledging it. We’re naturally curious, but if we don’t observe where our curiosity takes us, we’ll make no progress.
If you get lost for hours drawing or writing or coding or designing or anything really, that’s probably your passion. If you’d just notice it! For some reason or another, we seem to dismiss our passions as just things we do, but don’t see them as THE thing we do.
You have to acknowledge your curiosities, not dismiss or overlook them. Sometimes we have this perception of what our passion should look like, which blinds us from what is right in front of us. Don’t make that mistake. As you follow your curiosity, pay attention to how you feel, what you’re enjoying, what you hate, and where you’re spending the majority of your time. You’ll realize quickly what to continue pursuing and what to move on from.
On the other hand, some of us have a good idea of what we enjoy doing, but don’t think it’s worth pursuing or think it’s out of our reach. We take a self-defeatists attitude to our passion and keep ourselves from the potential happiness it can give us. But why not try? In today’s world, you can start pretty much anything in a matter of minutes, with little to no real risk, so why not try?
If we say we love sports, did we try to pursue it more seriously? Did we at least start a blog and start writing about it?
If we say we love fashion, did we try to open a shop on etsy and see what happens?
If we say we love video games, did we try to play around with some free animation software and see where it took us?
Pursuing passion can be a scary thing, but if we run from it when we do find it, we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice. We don’t deserve to say what am I doing with my life? when we know what we should be doing.
ur idealistic perceptions of what passion is and what it should look like can be another wrench in our wheels. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows even after you find your passion. Here are a number of myths that may be preventing us from realizing our passions:
Myth #1: You Must Be Great at Your Passion – Immediately
A big part of the equation to being passionate about something, is being good at it. And becoming good at anything takes TIME. You may find something you love, but you suck at it. That’s ok. I believe that passion must also be developed over time for it to truly manifest.
You’ll struggle with it, you’ll grow tired of it, but your curiosity is what will keep you working at and getting better at it, despite everything. This curiosity is what truly fosters passion. Remember that it’s not immediate and it’s not always going to feel like your true calling. The struggle is REAL. But that is also why following your passion is so rewarding.
Myth #2: Passion is Singular
Just because you find something you love to do, doesn’t mean you should stop exploring or trying new things. You never know what may be next.
It may be the generalist in me, but I don’t believe that we are all limited to a single passion, or that you must be equally passionate about several different things. I love learning and I’ve followed my curiosity along the way, finding things I enjoy doing. I’m not going to stop pursuing one for the other.
There is value in having many things you love: from giving yourself a break from one or the other when you’re burned out to allowing innovation to happen from the intersection of ideas. So don’t stop exploring just because you’ve found a passion!
Myth #3: Passion is Loving What You Do – Always
Just because you’ve found your passion, does not mean you’re going to love every minute of it. Let me drop some knowledge – every job, EVERY SINGLE JOB, has parts that are going to suck a lot. You just have to accept it. Nothing is awesome all the time.
Finding your passion may make things more enjoyable in relative terms – meaning, it may suck less. But it will still suck part of the time. I think Mark Manson put it best in one of his recent articles:
Everything sucks some of the time. You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much “What are you passionate about?” The question is “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work.”
Myth #4: Your Career Must Be Your Passion
Your passion can certainly be your career, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with this approach that can suck all the joy out of your passion (see above). Instead, it’s perfectly OK to have a passion that is a side project or hobby.
It can keep your passion pristine, taking away the pressure that comes with having to earn from it at the same time. Let’s face it, when money comes into the picture, you’re going to have to start doing less of what you truly love and worry more about the dollars and cents of it all.
Your passion doesn’t have to be your JOB. It’s a luxury if you can make this work, but first and foremost, just pursue your passion in whatever capacity you can and go from there.
In the end, the pursuit of passion is an important endeavor, but don’t obsess over it. The added stress, struggle, and uncertainty isn’t worth it. Instead, understand what passion really is and realize that if you follow your curiosity and pay attention, you’ll be on the right path.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.Albert Einstein
There’s no guarantee you’ll find your passion, but at least with curiosity you’ll live an interesting and fulfilling life. One worth living.
Image via flickr