“Screw Finding Your Passion”

Wednesday , 25, November 2015 Leave a comment

purpose diagramWhoa.

Have you ever finished reading something and then slowly looked around just to make sure no one is watching you, composing your thoughts, right as you watch them unfold on the screen in front of you?

It just happened here, this quiet, day-before-Thanksgiving morning, as I was lazily perusing the interwebs in that gloriously aimless way that I only get to do over long weekends.  Authored by Mark Manson, you can find the link to the post I just read here.  Caution to intrepid clickers: prepare for a passion smack down!

I’ve seen the diagram I’m including here both online and floating around my office, and I’ve been intrigued by the connection (or disconnection) between the various factors it includes.  However, Manson’s post just gave me a WHOLE new appreciation for it.

His post bears the same title as this post.  I -just- had this conversation about life purpose and passion this week… Although I’m a bit chagrined now to admit that my portion was the “I don’t know what I’m passionate about” side that Manson so eloquently, well, destroys, in his post.

Ok, so maybe you and I will disagree as to the definition of “eloquent,” but here’s the (PG-13 for language) paragraph that made me sit up, pay attention, and stop my aimless clicking:

I call bullshit. You already found your passion, you’re just ignoring it. Seriously, you’re awake 16 hours a day, what the fuck do you do with your time? You’re doing something, obviously. You’re talking about something. There’s some topic or activity or idea that dominates a significant amount of your free time, your conversations, your web browsing, and it dominates them without you consciously pursuing it or looking for it.

Oooooh my.  Truth smack down.

I first remember facing the “I have no passion” dilemma as a graduate student watching classmates and colleagues volunteering for causes, reading about topics simply out of interest (what? I struggled to finish the reading I was assigned to do), and talking about their big dreams.

It made me anxious.  I didn’t have passion like that.  I didn’t have a cause.  I NEEDED one.  Somehow, without one that I could name, I decided I must be an incomplete human being.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, I was really, really good at putting pressure on myself in those days.

Manson goes on to talk about our expectations getting in the way of realizing that passion.  Movies and media and too much internet clicking (whoops) coax us into believing that if we can just find what we’re passionate about, we can make a living it it–and through that living, we’ll not just manage to support ourselves, but we will positively be in LOVE with what we do every minute of the day.  We’re led to believe that if we aren’t living that life, then clearly we haven’t actually found our passion.

Reality check.  Not everyone makes a living that way.  And I don’t care what anyone tries to tell us–even those who ARE making a living via their passion STILL don’t love their jobs 100% of the time.  The big boss at work tells new professionals that if they like their job about 70% of the time, they’re doing pretty damn good–and I tend to agree.  Even at my best, parts of my job make me want to bang my head against my desk.  But if I only feel that way 30% of the time, that’s not an earth-shattering lack of passion and connection.  That’s real life–and it’s a job that’s probably a damn good fit for me, actually.

Manson finishes his post by saying:

. . . here’s another point that might make a few people salty: If you have to look for what you’re passionate about, then you’re probably not passionate about it at all.  If you’re passionate about something, it will already feel like such an ingrained part of your life that you will have to be reminded by people that it’s not normal, that other people aren’t like that.

So much for searching! (because he’s right, of course…)

What’s my point?  So many people say they crave a life of purpose–they lament the multitude of hours they spend on activities about which they have no passion; swear if they could juuuuust find that ooooooonnee thing they truly love… THEN they could live a fulfilled, purposeful life.

I have to agree with Manson.  That’s all a bunch of bull.  If I carve out time in my life to get quiet–quiet and still, in the space where the real me is allowed to show up, I already know what I’m passionate about.  If I’m completely honest, I probably also know how to more fully incorporate those passions into my life.  If I hesitate to do so, it’s out of fear.  It’s due to what I view as society’s expectations on me.  It’s due to a lack mindful attention to what my heart truly wants.

I already know, even if I didn’t realize it.  How’s THAT for (slightly confused) enlightenment?

What about you?  Have you found your life’s passion?  How do you live it each day?

(Note: I did an ardent search online for the source of the diagram above, and I was unsuccessful. If you know the source, please leave me a comment so I can give credit where it’s due!)

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