It’s a word I’ve only recently grown to understand and appreciate. A passion (which is often associated with deep love, religious events, or a fruit) is discovered when you’re engaged in something that makes you feel complete. A passion gives you purpose. It allows you to feel truly fulfilled.
Finding something you’re passionate about is hard. Whether we’re talking about a relationship, a cause, or a career path.
Some people are lucky and know exactly what they’re passionate about at a very early age. These people have plenty of time to formulate a plan of attack regarding how they will engage this passion, and they can confidently devote themselves to endeavors related to it. Now, I’m not talking about the ridiculously unlikely pipe-dream responses you often hear from kids. Like when a kid says he wants to be a great basketball player. Or like when you ask a kid in 2nd grade what he wants to be when he grows up and he tells you “a rug cleaner” because his parents just had their home cleaned and it was fresh on his mind…
The vast majority of us stumble through high school unsure of what we want, simply understanding we should do well in order to get into a good university. Being educated at a good university, in turn, is said to prepare us for “life,” and will grant us the resources needed to obtain a solid job.
If you’re not careful, you can get caught up in this process and end up letting precious time go by while you sit there uncertain of what to strive towards. Your time on this Earth is finite, and you shouldn’t be content just going with the flow. The way our societal/educational system currently works, it’s as if we are all standardized products being churned out by a factory, assembly-line style.
Occasionally during this process, a counselor or advisor will ask you what your interests are, or what your long-term goals are, which is great. But asking a 17 year-old kid what his long-term goals are reminds me of a dog being driven to the park. Usually, we’re just in the car excited about going somewhere new, not fully understanding the process by which we get there or where we are even going. We simply understand it’s not here, and at that point in your life that seems like enough.
For me, communication has always been great fun. I like talking, I like learning, I like informing, and I like listening (usually). A career related to journalism seemed like the natural pursuit. And for the most part, I was right to think this way.
But journalism is a pretty broad term for a variety of communication methods related to media creation and dissemination. While they are all interrelated, developing marketing and public relations campaigns is drastically different from sports broadcasting or graphic design.
After pursuing a degree in public relations, I understood that I enjoyed shaping the way people perceived a concept or idea. Convincing someone to feel a certain way about something resonated with me. However, I only recently came to the realization that entertaining someone is even more enjoyable than solely persuading them. Whether it was designing a public relations campaign or a group presentation in class, I always found myself trying to implement humor, or at least an entertaining story.
Not only does making someone experience specific emotions indicate that I’ve presented my information effectively, but it can also allow you to show people things they would have otherwise remain closed-off to. When you laugh at a joke, you’re acknowledging a frame of the story or an expectation you have, and this can be used to shine light on topics that may seem off-limits or inappropriate to some.
While I referred to it as a recent epiphany, I’ve always understood how great entertaining an audience is. I’ve always enjoyed making a room of people laugh. Having a group of people laugh at a story is one of the best feelings a person can experience. But for some reason I thought that this was a foolish pursuit, and therefore I eliminated it from my search for employment. Making money, and establishing job security seemed like the way to go.
But it’s not.
After working diligently for a year at a job unrelated to any of the aforementioned interests and knowing I could succeed if I worked hard, I’ve realized it’s just not worth it. Doing something you don’t get any fulfillment from in order to get money and live comfortably is flat out wrong. It’s unhealthy. It’s depressing.
To get serious for a moment, last year my life-long best friend passed away out of nowhere. It hit me pretty hard (very hard). While it was a terrible experience overall, it did force me to acknowledge the limited time I have on this planet to get things done. If I spend 15 years devoted to an unfulfilling job in order to establish some investment opportunities or financial stability, a car could hit me while I’m crossing the road and poof, I’ve lived 15 miserable years and have some money that’s in an account somewhere that I’ll never be able to use.
Simply put, I now understand that I can part from this world at any moment so exclusively investing in the future is foolish.
Now I totally understand taking a job you have to in order to make ends meet, or to care for others in your life. That is a noble endeavor and I respect that, but in my opinion you’re actually still pursuing a passion. Your passion just happens to be your family.
BUT, if you’re a 20-something solely responsible for yourself, and your circumstances allow you to take a risk, you have no reason to remain idle while the flame of your passion burns inside you. Don’t allow external influences and the prospect of stability to distract you from what you want or what you care about. Don’t allow the road that others have paved for you to dictate where you wander next. The safe way isn’t necessarily the right way.
“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” -Michael Leboeuf
Coming to China not only separated me from uncensored high-speed Internet, television, and movies. It prevented me from fully engaging with my friends, my family, and the online audience I had grown to enjoy entertaining.
Interacting with these people allowed me to be mentally stimulated, and helped me explore the depths of my mind and heart.
As my friend’s passing shed light on how valuable a person’s time is, my isolation and overall experience in China shed light on what I truly enjoy doing. I believe I discovered my passion.
I want to write. I want to create. And I want it to entertain.
It’s scary, but I’ve decided that I’m going to find a job related to entertainment production so I can develop my communication skills and grow as a writer. I want to fine-tune my style and voice, and then I want to share them with others.
Admitting you’re passionate about something is scary. Once you admit you care about something, you surrender to it. If it’s a person, you become vulnerable, exposing yourself to potential rejection. Similarly, if it’s a cause or career path, you expose yourself to potential failure. You have essentially said, “this is what I want to do” and anything short of that is a loss.
It’s terrifying. We just have to believe that when an individual is truly passionate about something and driven, their best will suffice. If not? Well, you can always find a way to get more money.