The Death of Passion
Should We Follow Our Passion?
With a simple Google search of "follow your passion," you will find something that I can’t agree with. Some of the headlines:
“To find work you love, don’t follow your passion.”
“Why 'follow your passion' is pretty bad advice.”
“Following your passion is dead.”
“Follow your passion is crappy advice.”
“Don’t follow your passion.”
My name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my passion, prepare to die! My overdeveloped sense of vengeance may get me into trouble someday, but I will not stop saying that!
Let us refute the death of passion!
A New Definition of Passion
In one of my previous posts, "Not Surviving, But Living," I described passion and logic in terms of two people. Our passion is a sloppy drunken man crawling in from the streets to throw a coup d’état in the mansion of his long lost brother, logic. Little do they know that if they work together, they will both make for better people. Passion will clean up a bit, and logic will dress down in times of fun.
So, before we continue, let us talk about our drunken friend, passion. He is misguided in his life; he’s made some bad decisions and put all his eggs in a single basket.
Personally, when I hear men like Mark Cuban saying that following your passion is terrible advice, it’s because there’s a disconnect in the definition of passion. When he makes the advice to stop following your passion, it’s because, in his terms, passion is a defined as an objective activity that one likes (hiking, fishing, surfing, photography, etcetera).
The thing is, "your passion," is not an activity. Like love and the indescribable phenomenon of human happiness, passion is not some objective component of our lives. Yes, again in comparison with love, it can likely be described in terms of neuroscience and psychology, but cultivating it is not the same in any two human beings.
When we start thinking of passion in this subjective manner, we start seeing an internal source of energy.
I was passionate about playing football, but I knew I was never going to chase being a professional.
I’m passionate about electronics, but I will open an electronic store.
I’m passionate about love and family, but love and family will never be my business.
I’m passionate about travel, but I’m not becoming a travel agent.
I’m passionate about astronomy, but studying it made me want to hurl a rock through a window while continuing an unnecessary rant and laughing maniacally in the presence of my burning astronomy textbook. I hated the class, but I still love the subject! Obviously, I will never become an astronomer.
My point is, when you find passion within an activity or object, you are beginning to circle that pure essence of passion I am trying to describe. If you can objectively and explicitly define a passion, it’s only a small part of what your true passion is.
Passions Come in Two Categories: Unearned and Earned
Unearned passion includes those things that spark a certain amount of interest in your inner being. These are the passions that you love, but you don’t have to earn in terms of work. For me, astronomy is an unearned passion. I love the night sky, I love the knowledge of deep space, and I love knowing what’s out there beyond the solar system. However, the thing is, there comes a point where I go from learning something I want to learn in astronomy to where I come into uninteresting topics.
Unearned passions often have a line, hard to define, in which we start losing interest and begin to feel the burden of the falling weight.
Then we have earned passion. For me, writing is one of these passions. I remember the exact period when I developed my love for it. It was my freshman year in high school, and I hated my history teacher, Mr. Speer. Along with hating him, I hated writing essays. Then, he gave a fantastic conventional outline that made writing research papers extraordinarily easy. Ever since then, I have loved to write not only academically, but creatively as well, and I have worked at developing my potential in the art.
Earned passions come from a different part of you. You like working to develop your skills in this subject and that line of disinterest is deep within the subject or not even found at all. Even when you have the burden of the real world on this passion, you won’t mind it, and you will still find joy within it.
Another difference between earned and unearned passion is that you will continue to come back to your earned passions even when the going gets tough.
Extrapolating a Deep Understanding of Your Passions
Every single passion, whether earned or unearned, brings about a deeper meaning in and of itself. These meanings can be broken down into different categories. How many are there? I don’t know. Personally, however, I believe they boil down to the Jungian archetypes. There are 12 different types, each with their deepest desire.
We should be able to take our passions and try to figure out why we find passion in them. Following your passion is about understanding yourself, and this is one of the key ways to make sure that following your passion is not going to lead to premature and painful failure.
Personally, most of my passions boil down to the single desire to be free. If one’s passion is a subjective and indescribable aura, your deepest desire is a shell that surrounds it, and your life’s passions are sectioned pieces of the shell that surrounds that deepest desire. Personally, my passions boil down to the love of freedom. This further explains why writing is my biggest passion, as it is one of the few activities in life to make me feel that way by itself. In contrast, astronomy makes me feel free, but only because it reminds me of how big the universe is. I care less for the actual action of learning and using the information.
It is up to you to make sure that you are fulfilling that core; fulfilling that true subjective passion.
Passions Won’t Always Lead to Success, They Mean More
When you follow that essence of passion, you won’t always follow the path to success. For some, it surely will, and that’s without a doubt. For others, you may not always reach the level of success that is defined by the ways of our society. The thing is, the definition of success in society is not the only thing that determines us. We are so much more than a title and degree.
The biggest problem in this world is that people are predisposed to follow the trail to money and fame. How can you blame them, however? It is one of the few things that societies as a whole put on an untouchable pedestal.
With that, I'll end with this.
Don’t be afraid to follow your passion because someone says you won’t make much money off of it. If you know when to accept failure and don’t continue something just for pride and ego, you will find that even failure can bring you happiness. You know why? Because failure means you did something, and it is one more thing that you can scratch off of your regrets list at the end of your life.
Don’t scratch a passion off of your list of potential careers just because you might not be good at it; you can always get better.
Don’t scratch a passion off of your list of potential careers just because you might not make much money with it; happiness isn’t money.
Don’t scratch a passion off of your list of potential careers just because it doesn’t make sense.
Follow your passion, but do it while knowing yourself. Don’t be afraid of failure, and follow it until you fail. From there, you have two choices. Ask yourself why you failed or give up. If you choose to give up? That wasn’t the passion you were supposed to follow. Continue by understanding what pulled you to that passion and why it no longer satisfied your hunger. Just make sure that your next passion doesn’t lead to the same reason.