To My Brother: How Do I Know What My Passions Are?

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.”

role-playing game dice and character sheet

Image Credit: Fyda. Creative Commons License.

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.

Related Articles:

The Continued Adventures of Boba Fett and the Importance of Never Giving Up On Your Dreams

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6 comments

  1. Great post. I always say we can learn so much from children. Their honesty and pursuit for happiness…how do we lose that? Never give up on your passion or your dreams. I haven’t. There have been roadblocks but I do my best to stay on the path. I wish you luck.

    1. Thanks, TBM. You are an amazing example of following your dreams. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  2. Thank you for this reply. I really like your suggestion of experimenting in order to find what we’re passionate about.
    I really enjoy your posts, keep them coming. 🙂

    1. Thanks bro! I will for sure!

      That’s what this life is all about isn’t it? Experimenting and having fun in the process! It’s all about the journey, not the destination

  3. Dear Daniel,
    From my august position of being twice that milestone of 34, i shout a resounding YES!! Over and over again I see the delights of childhood turned into meaningful adult lives, sadly after several years of deviation. Not that that time is necessarily wasted, but that’s another story. What I would add, that also goes against popular belief, is that place and lifestyle are equally a significant matter of choice. Get those right, and the right companion for the journey, and you have really found gold!
    For me, being surrounded by beauty and being creative are the breath of life, and a healthy dose of physical activity!!
    Forgive the long comment, but your post set me off this morning.
    Enjoy your day.

    1. On the contrary, I loved your long comment! I wish more people would leave long comments 🙂

      It is awesome to hear your thoughts on this from someone with far more experience and time to ponder on these things than I. It seems like the older we get, the more precious we realize that life really is, and the more we want to take advantage of every moment. I know when I was was in my early twenties, I didn’t value the gift of life as much and I wasted a lot of my time. I feel like my 30s is about doing all the things I should have done in my 20s! And I’ve learned that most people have it all backwards. I’ve learned that conforming, accumulating, and trying to maintain appearances led to a very empty and meaningless existence. What gives my life meaning and happiness are the two things you mentioned: creating (doing what I love) and having fulfilling relationships. Place and lifestyle are very important too, I’m glad you mentioned that. (and I’m jealous that you’re in beautiful Italy and I’m stuck in boring old Utah! But then, we must be grateful and learn to see the beauty around us, no?)

      Thanks again for your inspiring comment!

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