People say follow your passion to have a fulfilled life. But then again, what’s really the deal with having and finding a passion? Is it really that important? Is it really what our lives are made of?
Some have to walk through the adult life at such a young age—out of choice or out of sacrifice—that they’ve been through the rough patches. Some have the privilege to wait; they reflect on what they want—take as much time as they need to figure out what’s going on with their lives. But some have gone through the rough patches but choose to follow what they want to be and do anyway.
You walk out of university, college or school and people react to your credentials—from the good to the bad. You say “This is it.” or “What now?” or “I don’t know where to go from here”.
They bid you goodbye as you walk on the journey of adulthood by yourself that the previous generations seem to have gone through like a breeze.
But no matter which generation you’re from, it is impossible to feel content living a life without some sort of meaning. So you dig deeper and people tell you to ‘find your passion’ because that is after all what makes you feel alive.
I actually wrote about “passion” sometime earlier this year. But my thoughts have changed over the past months. I don’t disagree with everything, but I might have set things off on the wrong foot.
Now, it tingles and cringes me that I have to use the word “passion” in order to prove what I can give. Because I am scared that I won’t live up to that expectation—that I won’t really mean what I say. For that reason, I am going to use the term “passion” loosely.
Years ago, I thought my “passion” was science and the natural world.
I still feel some sort of attachment towards it only because I’ve dedicated my younger years (I don’t know why I am speaking as if I am older than my real age tbh) learning about them. I still love reading about them and watch documentaries about them but I find myself wondering if that is something that I am willing to still hold on to as a career or as a part of my identity. I don’t think about science all the time—not anymore anyway.
But over the years of discovering who I am, I was more intrigued by words in university and believe it or not, I preferred to read research papers than actually solving a problem. That would’ve helped me right?
I delved into one topic too deep, more than I needed and ended up knowing one thing more than the rest. As university is temporal, I fell behind and had to catch up hastily.
Overtime, I’ve realised that I enjoyed writing essays more than the core of what geology is. I don’t know why but I just do.
(I’ve probably mistaken my love for nature to learning more about it hah)
Would I have changed my course?
Yes and No.
Yes, because I could have done better elsewhere. (Or worse? Who knows right?)
No, because I wasn’t done with it; I needed a closure. I couldn’t afford to change anyway.
So I stayed.
I was willing to give it another shot that perhaps, it will turn out to be just fine.
And it did. I didn’t give up even though it didn’t turn out to be something that I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. Maybe I’d do it temporarily, but I honestly don’t feel connected to it enough—not enough for it to define me.
So, I started writing.
I spent my unemployed months writing everything: my feelings; my thoughts; and every little thing that I’ve learned along the way. I’ve tapped my deepest emotions and I’ve dealt with doubts more than I’ve had. Well I’ve survived so far, I guess it’s not that bad, isn’t it?
It isn’t just a tool for me to express myself. I’ve learned the reality of writing too. And life…
Unlike my previous piece on passion, Now I know that passion doesn’t teach me anything. It’s just a feeling and you can’t keep a feeling unless you do something with it.
And guess what? I started writing without knowing where it’ll take me.
By writing, I’ve learned that no one cares about what you write except if they have anything to relate to them or something that would make them feel or care about something.
That means if you want people to understand, you must first understand other people. That means it’s not your fault if you’re not interested in my life story and that you’ve probably scrolled down looking for something that matters to you.
Action is louder than words, they say. But my very act of writing and having a say is my action. But then, no one cares about what you believe until you put those words into actions.
By writing, I’ve learned that you don’t have to know everything before you start and learn everything to make a progress.
It is only by doing—by trial and error—that I’ve learned the difference between em-dashes, en-dashes and hyphens. It is only by doing that I’ve learned the difference where to put a coma, a colon and a semicolon. I have overused them and used them inappropriately like; what I am, doing right—now. I still make those mistakes now but I have become more mindful. Sometimes, I break the rules of writing especially on a post like this.
When I write fiction, my mind has a full view of what I’d like to make out of the story. The images of what I’d like to craft my story to be are clear in my head. But sometimes, I can’t put them into words making me feel illegitimate as a writer. I google terms and words to describe what would “perfectly” describe what I wanted to write.
I get frustrated on days when I can’t write productively. I get frustrated when I experience writer’s block. I also get frustrated when I know my piece isn’t as good as I wanted it to be.
But I am learning even if I am just crawling towards my goal.
By writing, I’ve learned that the only way to pursue something successfully is to do it consistently. Discipline and motivation will come later in the creative process.
Sometimes, all you have to do is stop finding and start doing.
Go back to your childhood and see what was it that made you alive and content? Why did you stop doing it? If you’re stuck, think about the prominent memories of what you did as a child that you wish you have developed.
So what is that one thing you’re thinking about now?
Writing, for example, is a long… long continuous process before you would actually see a result. Some writers spend years and years working on one book and only after 100s of rejections they would secure an agent. But they didn’t stop. They wrote anyway, even if there’s no guarantee that there’s an end to it.
By writing, I’ve learned that I don’t know much about the world and what I thought I knew.
You also don’t have to be passionate at every single aspect of writing to make yourself worthy enough to be called as a writer. You don’t even have to know what other writers know because as a creative, you are your own person.
I’ve seen, heard and read that people who’ve nurtured their interests since they were kids and because of that, they’ve achieved more than an average adult have achieved because of their energy and youth.
On the contrary, some people have found their passion only when they’re 50 or 60 and they’ve become equally as successful and sometimes even more because of their wisdom.
Sometimes, writing is just a means for me to… simply heal and express.
I may want to do it to benefit other people in some way. But sometimes, I write with no context and meaning. I write about my feelings that don’t mean to anyone but me. I write as if no one’s reading. The only reason why I’ve pushed myself to write about self-care is because I need it to remind myself about it. Sometimes, I get carried away with my personal project(s) which I advocated to be something that you’ll need but guess what? I forget to essentially function as a human. Maybe it’s just in my nature…
(my infp-t nature. sigh.)
The bottom line is: “passion” or whatever you may call is a choice, just like everything is in life.
You don’t have to wait for a certain calling or epiphany to know what your passion is. It isn’t a revelation nor it is a special talent.
Knowing your passion or pursuing isn’t so that you’ll be comfortable with it but you’ll discover what it is about you that you put can forth. It is kind of a means for you to explore something about yourself that you couldn’t find elsewhere.
I don’t want you to think that what you’re doing now is not enough. That you have to leave everything behind so that you’ll have to eat my words and use these words against you.
But I also don’t hope that you would sell your soul to your passion, just because it is what defines who you are.
And you know what I’ve learned from all of these? We just need to know our purpose.
Purpose gives birth to passion and so many things that you can’t even begin to comprehend now. It sets you free from going overboard or not going at all. It sets you in motion without breaking you in the end.
That’s what I’ve ultimately learned from writing.
It gives me a sense of purpose. And that’s all that matters to me, honestly.
So, passion or not, writing is what I’ve always returned to. No matter how far I’ve tried to navigate myself away from it, I keep coming back.
And, instead of setting yourself on a journey to “find your passion”, set yourself on a journey to “find your purpose” instead.
What do you say?