My brother Miles commented on my last post, What Does It Mean to Follow Your Passions? (Part 1), with this worry, which I think a lot of people may share:
“I’m still not sure if I’m following my passion or what it is! I guess I need to give this some thought!”
Have you ever had this thought go through your mind? I know I have. Millions of times. It took me until I was 34 to finally learn to answer to this question. Even though I actually knew all along since I was a child.
For me, it came full circle when I started getting excited about the type of stuff that excited me as a child. As children, we often know ourselves much better than we do as adults. Children are authentic—they haven’t learned how to lie to themselves yet.
What you are passionate about may not be an exact thing you did as a child, but it is probably in the same category. That’s because who we are as adults is the logical extension of who we were as children. Let who you were as a child be a guide to teach you about yourself and to point you in the right direction.
For me, I realized that as a child one thing I loved was reading novels, and I dreamed of being a novelist one day. I even majored in English when I started college. But then everyone around me told me that was foolish because “the only thing” I could do with an English degree was teach English. That’s compete bullshit. Plain and simple. We can scientifically observe that yes, other people have gotten English degrees and gone on to be novelists. (And still other people have become novelists without even getting a degree.) Are those people any better than I am? Absolutely not! The difference between them and me is that I believed the losers who told me to stop following my dreams. The definition of a loser is someone who quits following their dreams. Such people should not be allowed to give advice! On the flip side, I realize now that I was the fool who listened to fools. You can’t blame a fool for doing the only thing he knows how to do.
I’m not saying not to work and make money and pay your bills. We need a little bit of realism and rational thought. But not too much, or it will screw us up. What I’m saying is don’t give up. We all have 24 hours in a day. We can spend a little bit of that time pursuing our dreams. In almost all of the success stories I have read, the person followed their passions on the side without necessarily getting paid at first until they finally “broke in.”
I realized that I love to create worlds, stories, characters. This is so painfully obvious to me now, looking back at my childhood. As a teen, I’d spend hours and hours creating characters for table-top role-playing games. In fact, I spent almost all my time creating characters and hardly ever actually played the game! This is partially because I could never find anyone to play with me. But it’s also partially because of my love of creating characters. I remember those times fondly now. Am i making a full-fledged living off of creating characters yet? Hell, no! I’ve made 70 cents off it so far. But now that I’ve identified that as one of my main passions, I’m now heading in the right direction, and I make it a point to spend a little bit of time every day working towards it.
Another thing I’m now passionate about is spreading the good news that you can and should follow your passions. Since I was deceived by message of society and (well-meaning) friends and family for so long into thinking it’s not right to follow one’s passions, I now am trying to make up for lost time, and I’m passionate about spreading the message to other people. It’s important to follow your dreams! And whatever is important in your life you have to devote time to. So schedule time for it! And if you don’t know what your passions are yet, schedule time to experiment and try different things you might be passionate about!
Thanks Miles, for being honest enough to voice what many of us think on a daily basis. I hope this has helped to answer your question.