How many of you have heard the advice about pursuing your passions in order to be successful?
I hear it all the time! It’s like yeah, go pursue what you love and it’ll never feel like working or some other positive cliche.
I’m not one to bump cliches, but… what if you’re not passionate about anything? How do you find it? How do you find that thing that makes you want to wake up every day and do your best at it?
I believe in individuality, and that everybody has their own paths and journeys, but when it comes to this… well, I’d really appreciate a how-to guide, you know?
I’ve seen passionate people who love what they’re doing, who constantly find new ways to better themselves and their crafts. It’s amazing. Yet, whenever I ask how they found their passion, the answer is so vague. Something along the lines of it just clicked, I’ve always had an interest, etc.
I call those people lucky.
I’m not diminishing their talent or efforts in pursuing their passions, or discrediting their hard work, but they’re lucky. Why? They were able to find something that drives them, something that interests them. Sometimes with minimal efforts. And that’s the lucky part.
There are people who soul search for a long time and come up empty-handed. There are others who think they’re passionate about something, only to find themselves burnt out or uninterested when actually going after it. It sucks!
So again, how do we find our passions? How can I find what I’m passionate about? And what makes something that special? Is it because it’s something we’re good at, and we like the compliments? Is it because it’s something that we can’t quite figure out or grasp, so we keep going because we’re stubborn? What is it?
I think the answer can be both things, and more. It depends on what motivates the singular person.
Personally, I like going after what I’m good at. It’s not that I don’t like challenge, I just prefer getting praises and compliments for what I achieve. It’s a nice feeling, and it boosts my confidence.
Unfortunately, going after what I’m good at is a double-edged sword. It makes me vulnerable to criticism, and that can diminish a lot of self-esteem or put a lot more pressure on me.
I love writing. I’ve loved it since I was in junior high, maybe earlier. But the thing is, there was a period in my life when I was too anxious and too scared to write. Too afraid I wasn’t good enough, that my command of the English language was not as great as I thought.
I was too paralyzed to even try to write.
I felt so lost at the time. I used writing as catharsis, as self expression, as an extension of self. And here I was, for years, unable to coherently piece anything together for long periods of time. It was awful. And that’s when I really knew that writing is indeed my passion.
I didn’t just wake up one day and overcome my anxiety of writing. I was stuck for a long time. Too fearful to even pick up a pen or pencil. Too scared to open a word document. It was terrifying, but I pushed myself. I pushed past my doubt, my all-or-nothing-what-if-I-fail thinking to get to where I am now.
I may not be the best writer out there. I may be the worst for all I know, but I find extreme joy in seeing words appear. I feel a lightness when I’m able to put my thoughts into something tangible. It’s a nice feeling. Even though I don’t know if I will pursue writing professionally, it’s nice to at least pursue it personally (e.g. this website).
I got lucky and figured out what I’m passionate about. Even luckier still to have it confirmed, years after I was discouraged from it.
And my take away is that one of crucial steps in finding your passion is facing your fears and stepping out of your comfort zone.