Updated: May 31, 2021
Many of us are told to follow a passion, to pursue a career, a lifestyle, and a life around that passion. Well-meaning people tell you to make decisions, sacrifices, and to be a risk-taker, all in an effort to chase feelings of passion.
It’s a great narrative. Passion makes for a great story; a best-selling book, and an award-winning movie. The concept of ‘passion’ itself, embodies the idealistic ‘American Dream’. There are, however, misconceptions around what passion is, how it acts for or against us, and how we should act in response to the presence of passion in our lives.
This is not to say that passion isn’t real. It’s presence can be felt through the actions of amazing people everyday. If passion weren’t real, we wouldn’t have the technology that we have today. We wouldn’t have health-care workers who sacrifice all of themselves to care for others. We wouldn’t have an endless collection of books at our disposal, on numerous topics. These inventions, creations, and acts of selfless service are beautiful examples of passion at work.
Passion is real, that much is true. It is an emotion that takes up place in our headspace. Passion can build us up, to what seems to be the top of the world, the same way that it can drag us through the dirt when things get rough.
Comfort & Control
Our human-nature is largely built around two things: comfort and control. We want to live all of our days in a comfortable state, and lucky for us, comfort comes in many forms. Finances, familial relationships, physical, and mental states, and the list goes on. Comfort and control feed off of each other. We are comfortable when we are in control, and we are most confident in our ability to control when we are comfortable.
Passion comes into play because comfort and control feed-off of the assurance that we have something to pursue. By nature, we want to work towards something. We want to be in the process of becoming something; a better version of ourselves. We crave the confidence that we know what that journey will look like, and we never really do.
The path towards our future-selves is always as clear as mud. We become uncomfortable if we have to explain to our families that we don’t know what we want to do with our lives. We feel helpless when we go throughout our days knowing that what we are currently doing is not what we want to do for ‘the rest of our lives’. This lack of control, and discomfort is good, because without it we would never feel the needed sense of urgency to learn, grow, and become.
Passion is Overrated
We run into trouble when we believe that passion alone is enough to get us to our end-goal. Two things are wrong with this mode of thinking:
Passion without action is a pipe dream
True passion never has an end-point
At some point, you will overvalue passion. You will claim something as your own, and you will come to find that it’s not truly a part of you. But when you find the thing that is uniquely your own, there will be no limits. There will be no consideration of what needs to be done, or when the goal needs to be met; instead, it will be a love of the process, the sacrifices needed to make the process happen, and a belief in what you’re becoming.
Unconsciously, we buy into fake passions for ourselves, based off of the environment around us. We go on Instagram, see the latest ‘fit-chick’, and decide that we too will be fitness influencers. We see a successful small-business owner, and begin to draft a plan for our own entrepreneurship. The list goes on, and it is largely built around what seems popular in the world around us.
It doesn’t take long for the fire inside of us to be extinguished, because the passion was never true. We tried to become something we’re not, and ten times out of ten that’s a plan for failure.
Hobbies are great. They give our mind a break from the demands that are placed on us each day, and they provide us with a learning experience. But don’t confuse a hobby for a passion, because what you will find is that the more that you try to invest in that hobby as your life’s work, your one true passion, and your destiny, the more your mind will wander, in search of what is true. In search of a true passion.
True passion is beautiful; and its beauty is found in simplicity. We often get lost in the idea that we get to choose our passion. True passion isn’t chosen, it chooses you. And it does from a young age. It’s a seed that is planted early, and grows over time, waiting patiently to be discovered, and acted upon. Only passion itself, and the one who created you to live-out that passion, knows the right time to reveal itself. And when the time comes for you to know, it will all be very clear. You will know exactly what you are meant to become; and you will.
The process takes time, and many people lack patience. It requires sacrifice in the form of doing things that we don’t want to do, and many of us seek instant-gratification for our efforts. It requires you to be a risk-taker, and to become comfortable stepping outside of your comfort zone, and many of us crave comfort. Sure, you have to remain patient, and you can’t force your own agenda, but when an opportunity presents itself, you jump at it.
One last note on passion: let’s stop thinking about our passion as an action. Passion can not function by action alone, it must be fueled by a message from the heart. I’ll use myself as an example: I am a teacher, but teaching isn’t the passion. The passion is service. Service in the form of instilling knowledge, and promoting growth through the youth of my community. Yes, I teach, but the action of teaching isn’t my passion, it’s simply the mode through which I express my passion for service.
Actionable Steps to Investing in your Passion:
Be patient- be willing to do things that aren’t preferred, and to function in environments that aren’t ideal.
Don’t be greedy- be willing to sacrifice your time and energy, in order to be the best that you can be, no matter what that looks like in that stage of your life.
Lose sight of your comfort zone- take risks, jump at opportunities, and go a step further than your mind tells you to. No one ever made progress by being comfortable for extended periods of time.