Motivational, inspirational articles and videos teach you one thing- follow your passion.
Entrepreneurs, startup mentors tell you one thing- follow your passion.
Even advertisements fill your brain with one thing- follow your passion.
I truly appreciate the passionate. It takes a strong will and determination to be truly passionate about something. What I do not understand is- why is the word ‘passion’ becoming our new god? We don’t have to be passionate about stuff to do them, right? Is it just an umbrella term we used for things we have done well, when we look in retrospect?
Now don’t get offended by what I am saying. You have the right to follow your passion, whether it gives you a result or not. You have the right to be passionate about things, to feel deeply about things. You have the right to use the word ‘passion’ in every single sentence you use. It is okay. I understand, I respect your views. So, read my views too.
As I have known many a people who are dying to pursue their ‘passion’ and be the next Gates, Jobs and what not. I can tell you how much this word is misused. It is not misused. It is abused. Abused to such an extent that all it has remaining is just a sound and no real meaning.
So, this first friend of mine has spent years doing what he was good at. He is good at selling snake oil and he does exactly that. Must be appreciated for his skills. He uses this word ‘passion’ too often. He is making young people around him think about doing things ‘passionately’. He wants them to love their work and love it ‘passionately’. He wants ‘passion’. He wants you to be ‘passionate’. Really?
This second friend of mind, younger and more energetic and more intelligent and more stubborn also talks about passion. He did something well. So, well he was living a stress-free life just enjoying the fruits of his labor. At a young age, he was an entrepreneur. Then something ruined his brain. It was the idea of ‘passion’. His passion was to do something he was moderately good at. For that passion, he left something he was ‘really’ good at. It becomes difficult to understand what to do when empty words fill your brain. We are humans and inherently flawed. So, we often fall for our flaws and do something that we are not very good at.
Imagine yourself singing along a song, headphones on. You are dancing, you are humming, you are copying all the high notes and letting yourself go. That feels liberating for a few moments, except for those who must listen to your voice. You can do that to ‘liberate’ yourself, but you can’t do that for a living, unless of course, you are really good at it.
Sounds confusing? Maybe you feel offended already. Don’t be. Please. There is no offence. I am passionate about things too. I am passionate about watching cartoons but that is not what I do for a living. I do what I am really good at. I do what I am naturally drawn to do. I write, I speak, I blog. You can take my cartoons away from me but you will never take away my urge to write or speak or give a lecture in the form of a rant whenever I find time. It is all so subconsciously activated that it becomes difficult to control. I write at the very first moment I find time to do it. There is no stopping. Writing is not my ‘passion’. No. I think this is just who I am. This is what makes me complete, whole. So, writing, helps me make a living and writing helps me feel whole. It is not my passion.
The problem with passion is that it is a feeling. The problem with feelings is that they are often momentary. They won’t last long. Will-power, again, doesn’t last long. Love, doesn’t last long. Hatred, doesn’t last long. Trust your feelings. They are important. They are what makes us human. However, also remember that feelings, if you want them to stay, must be cultivated. If you are passionate about something, you have to cultivate it, day in and day out. Being merely passionate about something doesn’t make anything magically simple. In fact, it becomes even more difficult.
How can you love someone for years at a stretch if you don’t love them most of the times? You may hate them occasionally. You may be jealous of them and resent them and even feel like kicking them out of your life. That is occasional. That is situational. That is natural. That is why I say ‘most of the times’.
Passion – the feeling, and ‘passion’- the word, now have totally different meanings for me. The feeling of passion is momentary, but can be cultivated. It needs determination, 100 percent focus and a need to cultivate a habit. It is difficult but can be done.
‘Passion’- the word, is a meaningless helium balloon. A sugar-coated BS term that we are fed by people who have achieved more than us and now look back to their lives, searching for one word that could tell-all, ‘passion’. It is like sugar, to be honest. It gives you an instant boost but after a while, you come back lethargic, sleepy, almost hungover.
If you are a young graduate or just looking for a career or thinking about what to do with your life, don’t get any advice from people who ask you to ‘follow your passion’. That is the most useless, generic advice you can get. Ask them to STFU and focus on this thing- right here.
You need to make a decision. Are you just following a ‘passion’? Are you working on something that you are really good at? The chances of success are higher if you do something that you are really good at. If you are good at negotiating with people, enter sales, and so on and so forth.
Are your passions different from what you are good at? Well, good question. Make your passion your hobby. Feels great, works well. What if you want to continue with your passion ‘no matter what’. Step 1, test yourself. See if you are really good at it. Check if this thing is really good for you. Step 2, if you think that this is what you want to do, this is where you want to spend the rest of your life doing, this is what will bring meaning to your life, well go ahead. You have made your decision. Now just add some hard work, some more determination, and a regular dose of will-power to keep going.
We all are different, right? I feel that we all have a different set of skills, a different approach that can be utilized in different jobs or careers. Don’t look for your passion, to begin with. Look for what you are drawn to. Look for what you are really, really good at. Look for your potential. Look for your opportunity. If you keep searching for passions, you may fail. Passions are subject to change. They may change with time, with circumstances. But your ‘calling’, your being, who you are from the inside and whatever you want to achieve does not change.
So, don’t feel disillusioned. Don’t feel threatened. Don’t feel offended.
No matter what a job description says about ‘passionate’ individuals, don’t believe them. They want people who can get the job done on time. You can be passionate about writing. A few people I have worked with were ‘passionate’ about writing and social media marketing. Three months down the line they were fed up with what they were doing. All their ‘passion’ vanished. They were now irritated, doing stuff just for the heck of it and just getting their salary because they have to pay the bills. Wow! Did we just not come back to where we all started? Did these people not hate the regular 9 to 5 and wanted a new, adventurous job with no real working hours and a fancy sounding post name?
They did. They probably got advice from some gentleman asking them to follow their passion. They thought, “wow, my friends love my Facebook posts. I am passionate about writing Facebook posts and getting likes. I will totally become a social media manager.”
The problem with work is that it is tedious, tiring and sometimes demotivating. I LOVE MY WORK. That doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes sometimes. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to rip everything apart and just run away. Work is designed like that. You have to be consistent. You have to mimic a machine often. You can take breaks and sick leaves. But even the celebrities you people follow work my dear. What you think is roaming and walking the ramp and acting all cool and crazy is work for them. They get tired too.
Your skill set is important. I haven’t met a lot of people with fancy degrees earning as much as people with a valuable skill set. Even small business owners in a small city can earn more than an MBA who just did it for the heck of it. The skills you possess and the direction in which you are drawn to matters a lot. With time, you grow your skills, you become better at things and then in retrospect, you think “Damn! I was so passionate about it.”
If you have a passion and you want to follow it, don’t let it be momentary. Fuel the train of passion with the sweat of your tired self and the determination of a plant that wants to grow in concrete.
And yeah! 6 years of writing professionally and many more years of writing because I could not help it- I can also look back in time and say I was ‘passionate’. The truth, which I believe in, is that I was really good at it and I just loved doing it and I didn’t want to do anything else.