I recently had a conversation with my husband where I started off logically discussing that writing wasn’t making me as happy as it used to, and I ended up in tears because I revealed that I have never felt like I have a calling, or “passion.”
(I also talked about this in a Facebook live vid I did recently.)
The worst is that the calling and passion I thought I had forever – writing – has suddenly taken a dramatic decline on the list of “Things That Make Me Happy” or “Things That Are Important To Me” (more on that, maybe, in another blog post). The thing I thought would make me happy forever suddenly…doesn’t. And other options on how to spend my time (learning a new music production software, starting a new clothing company) are taking precedence.
So what does it all mean? Do I have no passion? Do I have no calling? Am I meant to not do anything…or conversely, try everything once and then abandon it?
(I request here that you turn down your arrogance switch a little now because this is going to sound hugely douchey but I don’t mean it to.) The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t good at anything. The problem was that I could be good at anything. The potential bugs me. Most things I get really into for a little bit, get really good at…and then promptly abandon.
Nothing has held my attention long enough for me to consider it a passion. Except, maybe, working out or being vegan, but I consider those partial passions and partial necessities. And they aren’t things I can talk to people about forever because people are terrible and judgy. So maybe they are my passions, but they also aren’t things I can turn into a path, forever, which is really what I was looking for.
Then a thought struck me: I actually do have one very big, very glaring passion. The thing that I am always chasing, the thing I am always grateful for, and the thing I can’t get enough of: freedom. And going along with that, I realized that my other big passion is making the world a better place. The two sort of go hand-in-hand but it all starts with my need for freedom.
I know it sounds like a cop-out: freedom can’t be a passion or a calling because those are more vocationally-oriented. Well, says who? Freedom happens to actually be my passion – it is THE thing most important to me in life.
Now, figuring out what to do with that information is a whole other story. And truth be told, I haven’t, yet, figured out what to do with it. I have loads of business ideas swimming in my head, loads of paths I could follow, and loads of things I want to do before I kick the bucket.
But so what? For now, just knowing I’ve found it is enough. So back to why I’m writing this – finding out that my passion was freedom was a bitch. It sucked. It took a lot of tears. And I felt like a total failure most of the time.
Here are a few things I learned about how to find your passion along the way.
1. Stop listening to what other people are prescribing for your life.
Really, this is the best thing to do no matter what – not just to find your passion. Stop listening to other people. Just…stop. No stroke of genius, no flash of inspiration, no good, really, ever came from listening to what other people have prescribed for you life. So quit worrying about it.
As soon as you do, you’ll realize you’ve opened yourself up to figure out what YOU truly want.
2. Stop worrying about what other people actually think of you.
A close second to ignoring people’s thoughts for you should do with your life is ignoring people’s thoughts about you, in general.
The only way to find true happiness and to truly discover your passion – the thing that will drive you every day – is to no longer worry about what other people think of you.
I’ll admit, I can be pretty sensitive sometimes. But I also quickly snap myself out of it and remind myself that it honestly doesn’t. fucking. matter. what other people think of me.
3. Write down 5-10 words that reflect your personality, according to you.
This was a fun little project for me because I had never done anything even remotely like this before. I decided to journal about a few different words that (I think) reflect my personality. The “I think” is critical here because it is my own view of myself. As it will be for you. Doing a short little project like this will let you see how you truly view yourself and will get you that much closer to finding your passion.
A few of my words were: adventurous, empathetic, impatient, organized, outgoing, lazy (yes, I really am soooo much of the time), and loud.
4. Write down 5-10 skills you have that you value.
This is similar to the prior exercise but with just a slight tweak: instead of writing down character traits, you’ll be writing down skills about yourself that you value.
Read carefully: NOT just skills you have. Skills you have that you VALUE.
To give you an example, I am really good at research. But IDGAF about that. It’s not something that’s going to make me happy and it’s not something that gives me life in any way.
But conversely, I think I am also really good at connecting with people. And that IS something I really value. So by writing that down I got a bit closer to figuring out my passion.
If you are interested, my skills list was as follows: connecting to people, speaking in public, being open (yes, I consider this a skill), time management, writing, and thinking outside the box.
5. Say yes, as much as possible.
You know that thing you’re really scared to do? Go do it, right now.
That social invitation you got from a friend that freaks you out? Take them up on it.
In other words, say YES.
I think many of us have this idea that we’ll find out passions by just sitting around and dreaming about them. Or by researching them. That’s not how it works, though. We only actually discover our passion and our happiness, and what we WANT from life, by getting out and DOING life.
You’ll hate some things, you’ll be indifferent about some things. But you’ll also LOVE some things that you never thought you would and it’s those things that will lead you in the right direction.
6. Let yourself be capricious.
My husband will arrive home from work on a Monday afternoon to hear me saying I want to go to med school.
By Monday evening, I’ll be sure I want to open a food truck and drive to music festivals the rest of my life.
Tuesday afternoon rolls in and now I want to move to Costa Rica and write books from my house.
In other words, I’m really fucking capricious. When I was young, I hated this about myself. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized it’s a necessity for figuring out what’s going to work. It’s only by changing my mind a bunch of times that I’ll figure out what feels right.
If you’re like me, fear not. It really IS part of the process. Mindchangers Unite!
7. Realize that your passion may not be a traditional passion.
I’m pretty sure you can’t major in “freedom.” (Although believe you me if I were president, I’d make it happen.)
You can study things like music or art, or train in medicine or just generally have established paths for pursuing other passions.
This disheartened me for a long time because I didn’t think there was any way freedom could be a passion.
Well, it turns out that just because NYU doesn’t teach “how to chase freedom” doesn’t mean that freedom isn’t actually a passion.
So if you don’t feel like you have a “traditional” path, so be it. Let yourself be open to the possibility that you are entirely unique and that so will your passion be.
8. Accept that the answer will come when you least expect it – and enjoy the ride.
Honestly, this point might be an “ignore this fucking list and carve your own path.” Or a “this list means nothing because life is weird.” And if it is, I’m good with that.
The thing is, even after doing all the things I suggest, you might not find your passion. You might still feel like you’re floundering. And you know what? That is perfectly okay, because as cliche as it is, things happen when you’re ready.
Instead of stressing over not having found your passion, enjoy the ride. Enjoy every moment, from the ups to the downs to the new friends to the new hobbies.
Because that’s life. And no one gets out alive, right, so we may as well have a party while we’re here.