Don't Have a Passion? That's Okay!
Is “Find Your Passion” a frustrating phrase for anyone else? Because it is for me. It makes me feel like I’m failing at life somehow because I don’t have any one thing I want to dedicate every waking hour to doing. I don’t jump out of bed in the morning excited to tackle my goals. Half the time, I don’t even know what my goals are, but I make some up anyways just so I can be (or at least feel) productive that day.
I find that all of these motivational phrases you find on Pinterest and Instagram, despite their intentions, are very subjective and easily misinterpreted. One thing we are learning a lot about is psychology is that many mood disorders have a lot to do with how a person interprets information. I, for example, have had to fight for my entire life the instinct to interpret people laughing as people laughing at me. In reality, they might not even know I’m there. They’re probably laughing at a joke. But my brain structures and neuroendocrine system combined with my life experiences have taught my brain to interpret laughter as me being a joke. So it’s no surprise that phrases like “find your passion” don’t excite me, they instead leave me feeling empty and less-than.
I don’t at all think that we should banish these motivational phrases, and I certainly don’t think we should stop seeking out passions, but I think there needs to be some room for middle ground.
I recently attended a “Career Kitchen Salon” with Jill Ozovek where everyone in the room was interested in a career change but was dealing with some sort of resistance that wound up stopping them from taking the necessary steps. Jill brought up a great point in the midst of this discussion:
It’s okay to be in a job that is okay.
You do not have to wake up every day skipping to your office or smiling all big at your computer. And furthermore, you don’t have to have a dream job that you want to leave your current “okay” job for. But what you can do is use the time outside of your job to find out what it is that you do like.
Try cooking classes, or photography classes. Try writing a blog (even if it's just for yourself) or taking a writing class. Sign up for a conference or retreat and see if it helps fill your “passion tank”. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. You tried. Keep trying. There is no guarantee that something will stick. I’m thirty years old and I haven’t found anything yet. I’ve tried hip hop and breakdancing classes, ballet classes, painting and art history classes, cooking classes, cycling classes. I’ve started charities and worked with non-profits and put on sustainability events. And each time I think to myself, “Maybe this is it! Maybe I’ve found it!” But it’s not it. It’s not my "passion".
Those activities were all great things and I learned something from every single one of them. But I don’t want to start a cooking blog (the grocery store still makes me cry sometimes – a story for another time). Fitness is not my area of passion – I have way too much gym anxiety. Painting and art is fun for a minute, but then I get bored. Photography frustrates me as soon as it becomes technical.
It’s all okay. All of it.
You are enough exactly as you are, passion or no passion. And perhaps, maybe you do have a passion and you don’t even know it. Recently, a dear friend told me I have a gift for making people feel good. Maybe that’s been my passion all along. But I’m going to keep trying to look for more, to keep searching, and keep loving myself along the way, because I’m not going to let a motivational quote make me feel less than, and neither should you.