What About This Thing Called Passion?
Whenever I hear an expert say that everyone has a passion and that they can find the key to unlock it, I scream. What if you cannot find your passion or what if you have identified it but there is no outlet for it? I can hear the experts saying, “Impossible! You are not looking in the right direction or you are not examining what you have carefully.” Well, does one have to have a passion in one’s life for it to be meaningful? Can it not be something general without being a specific thing? I used to feel stupid and useless because I could not identify my passion. I wondered if I was missing out on life as I had not found that “thing” that would lend meaning to my life. So each time I hear talk of passion, my frustration would grow, and I would grit my teeth, agonizing, “What about me, where is it, why can I not find it?”
The Random House Webster’s dictionary describes passion as a strong fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for something. I believe that my passion should consume me. I must feel an exhilaration just thinking about it. Do the dance of Gene Kelly in the movie Singing in the Rain, pump my hands and shout out “YES!” Even when the initial glow has ebbed, there still must be a sense of joy as I know that what I am doing is right for me. So, by my definition, I do not identify passion as a career goal. There are objectives that I want to attain in my career and I work toward them, but I am not passionate about them.
So I turned to the experts to see what they had to say. Some say to look at your skills and talents as a hint of what you would be good at. Others suggest asking friends and associates for their ideas of what they thought I was good at, which I did, and was told that I am good at organizing. Although that is a useful skill in planning events, I was not passionate about it. Other experts listed steps to finding one’s passion. In examining them, I questioned the reason for doing a certain thing, or thought that there were too many steps and exercises to be done. Sometimes there were groupings, and I would stop right there if I could not identify with a group. Another expert say that I can identify my passion by looking at what I love doing and work on that. Well, I love dancing and reading, so are these my passions? What can I do about dancing or reading to turn one of them into something meaningful and of value to me? By my definition, value is that of quality and principles, not of monetary or material worth; and meaningful is having purpose to me. I examined dancing. The kind of dancing that I love is not the ballet, performing interpretive dances, or some other such artistic style of dancing. My passion is to dance to “old school funk” music! But what can I do with that? One option would be to open a school to teach dancing. However, I do not think that the 40-plus crowd, who knows and enjoys this type of music, would pay for a class when they can simply dance to the music in their homes. I could try teaching the younger people, but doubt whether they would interested in this type of music. Another option would be to teach an aerobics class, dancing to the moves of old school funk. Alas, I am not an exercise buff.
My other love is reading. I read every day and enjoy doing so. I thought about opening a bookstore in my neighborhood but that is not feasible. Another option would be to teach reading, or to read to adults or kids at the library or some such place. Well, I did a teaching stint and got feedback that I was too rigid, and I also found that I did not have the patience. While this is certainly meaningful, it was not right for me. This is where I felt stuck as I looked for answers as to how to progress from this point. I could not come up with anything else to catapult my love of reading or dancing. Should I explore more options in these two areas, or should I look for another passion? Perish the thought, but am I being my worst enemy in sabotaging myself from moving forward?
As I try to allay my anxiety about not finding my passion, I would hear someone say in a smug voice, “Oh…is my purpose and what I was born to do.” I wanted to tell them to shut up. However, I do not, and instead I berate myself. Well, how much of that can one take? I gave up trying to find the answers myself. Instead, I turned to God and asked Him to guide me to make His will mine. I asked Him to reveal to me whatever it was that He wanted me to do, and if it was not something that I love then help me to align it with His will. Please understand that God is, was, and will always be in my life, but as we humans normally do—we try things ourselves and when we are unable to move forward, turn to Him. So I gave up pushing, relaxed, and waited.
During this period, I stepped out of my box and began taking an interest in the people and things around me. This made me view my family and friends with new eyes. I was more open to ideas, I listened more, and I tried to be patient with people, mindful of their feelings. One day as I was doodling on my pad, thinking of what I would like to do, I wrote down my likes and dislikes, and skills/non-skills. The point that kept coming to the forefront was that it must be something of value and meaningful. I had the word “writing” under my skills category and next to that I wrote, “Must have a message.” I wrote down a few ideas and began to explore and expand one of my ideas into a story line. Now, I was not thinking of this as my passion, it was just an avenue that I was exploring. Sometime during this period it dawned on me that this could be my passion, and this was what I wanted to do. I felt an inner glow of satisfaction. There were no bells and whistles, I had stumbled on to it by accident. It was only afterward that a light bulb went off as I linked my love for reading into my desire to bring the written word into the lives of other people. The theme of my story was about someone reaching the point of accepting God in her life, and as I was in the process of writing about it, I became excited. Perhaps, I thought, this could be the chance to convey a message that could touch and change lives. I could share something positive and give a sense of contentment one gets after reading and enjoying a good book. It was something meaningful. YES! Then, I got really excited. Then, I did the Gene Kelly dance!
Wait a second! What would have happened if I did not find my passion? Or, if my writing led to a dead end? Should I have given up? Absolutely not! No one should. Instead, people who think that they are unworthy because they do not have a passion should know that they are a divine creation of God and that alone gives them value. I am sure that there will be more books and talks on the subject of passion, however, the experience of looking for my passion has taught me that we should not panic about not finding that passion. Instead, we should live and give of ourselves as opportunities open up where we least expect them. Also, we should be engaged actively in something, which may not be the “thing” that we want, but at least we would not be idle…we would be experiencing life.
My real insight to finding my passion was the journey. It took me out of my selfish world. I stepped out of my box and began taking an interest in everything around me. Someone once said, “Everyone has the power for greatness—not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” Be aware that passion does not have to be a specific thing nor does it have to be glamorous; one’s faith, family, and friends can be one’s passion. Sharing love and being true to ourselves are vital. And, above all, we should let God into our lives and have Him take control as He can dream a bigger dream for you and me than we could ever dream for yourselves.