The recipe for happiness, according to the volumes of self-help articles and books and blogs out there goes pretty much like this: Follow your passion. Find your bliss. Do what you love. Just find that one thing that you’re passionate about and do that for the rest of your life and you’ll be happy. Sounds simple enough, right?
But here’s where that “follow your dreams” mantra gets a little wonky for me. When I was a kid, I loved to sing. My sister and I were both passionate about our plan to tour the world. A singing duo following in the footsteps of other family singing greats like The Carpenters, The Osmonds, The Partridge Family. We just knew that singing was our future. And then–probably not even six months into our journey to fame — we closed the lid on the portable record player and were on to the next passion. For me, it was making macrame plant hangers, and for my sister, I think it was catching tadpoles to see how long it took for them to turn into frogs.
And then I wanted to be a stewardess. And then I wanted to be a teacher. And then I wanted to work at a newspaper. And then I wanted to … and then.. and then…
But that’s not-so-uncommon. As kids we bounce around from one idea to another, trying out different “when I grow up, I want to____ (fill in the blank.)” And, by the time we’re finished with high school, we’re, umm…we’re supposed to have that blank filled in.
What is our life’s passion? What in the heck ARE we supposed to do with, say, the next 50 or more years?
It’s stressful. The follow your passion stuff. At 18. And at 33. And at 49. If you don’t know what your life’s passion is — that ONE thing you were put on this earth to do–well, then you start to feel like you’re the oddball. You convince yourself that everyone else you know has a gift or path in life that they have always known would lead them to the perfect career — the perfect life.
And so this is where I take issue with the whole finding your passion thing. Telling someone to “follow your passion” sends the message that there is just one singular thing that you need to chase. But we are complicated. Multi-layered. And we change as we get older. A lot. What we are passionate about when we are 18 isn’t likely to hold our interest until we’re 65. Passion, by definition, is an emotion — “a strong and barely controllable one” — and we all know that emotions are notoriously fleeting.
My point is this: Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t found your life’s purpose.
Seriously. Because I guarantee you, there is more than one purpose. And there are plenty of things to be passionate about.
This is not a test and no one is going to give you a failing grade if you don’t figure out your entire life by the time you’re 26.
Don’t be so consumed with this elusive journey to find your passion that you miss out on the passionate moments that fill your life. Take a breath and pay attention to the now.
You don’t have to find your life’s passion to live a passionate life.