Why Your Passion is Going to Break Up With You
I might be developing an addiction to this whole emotional vulnerability thing.
To not limit yourself to the confines of your negative self-talk. To put yourself out there in a way that prevents you from being outed. You can melt your own chains with your honesty.
And when you find your truth, and find your freedom in that truth, life gets a little lighter. Finding freedom can do that to you.
When you find something you’ve been looking for—freedom, or otherwise—it’s exciting. You might feel a spirit of relief or a wave of excitement (or any number of other emotions). To find what you want sitting there, finally, right in front of you? Well, that can make you feel alert and awake and alive. Finally!
Some of you are nodding along and waiting for me to tell you more about what that really feels like, because you’ve never felt it. Or you might be rolling your eyes and thinking that this sounds like some airy-fairy bullshit. Because, yeah, if you’ve never felt this, then it is airy-fairy bullshit.
If you haven’t felt the moment that a thing, a person, or an experience has come into your life and changed you forever, then what I’m talking about is complete fantasy.
But, let me ask you something: does everything that exists in your life today mean the same thing to you now that it meant to you when it first showed up in your life?
Is there a food you loved as a kid that you hate as an adult? Or a food you wouldn’t touch as a kid that you live for now? There was a time you couldn’t pay me to eat arugula.
Is there a hobby that you only got into as a kid because your parents made you do it (endless dance lessons, perhaps) that you eventually fell in love with years later?
Is there a person that you couldn’t stand when you first met who is now one of your closest friends?
Or, a person who entered your life quietly, without making a huge impact at first, that you now would never want to live without?
I’m willing to bet everything that you answered “yes” at least once. Because some things come into your life one way and then become something else. That’s life.
But, because we look for life-changing, earth-shattering realizations to show us what to believe in, we might overlook something that’s been growing in our hearts the whole time.
Leaving us to think that nothing magical has happened for us.
Leaving us to think we’re not passionate about anything.
Because, frankly, we think passion is something we’re supposed to feel intensely and constantly and indefinitely. Every time we touch it. Every time we think about it. Our hearts should race at the mere mention of the name.
Sounds a little exhausting to me, but, before I digress…
Passion sometimes looks like commitment. For some of you, it’s the thing you do everyday when no one asks you to. The thing you love to do, and don’t think twice about doing, even though it makes you no money and gets you no closer to the obvious goals in your life.
Sometimes, because you might think it’s frivolous to spend time doing this thing that isn’t getting you a raise or a better job or whatever you tell yourself you’re striving for, you try to find a way to connect this thing to your life in a productive, constructive way.
Well, being a better writer is going to help me in any career, so I’m going to keep blogging even if no one is reading it.
(When you could just write because you like writing.)
Or, you downplay the reason you like doing something so that you don’t have to justify spending time on it.
I just bake cakes for my friends and family—for birthdays and stuff. It’s not like I’m going to open a bakery one day, so I don’t need to get “serious” about it.
(There’s nothing wrong with being serious about something you enjoy.)
Just like that, you talk yourself out of living the thing you love.
And let me just say, I’m not trying to tell you that you need to turn everything you do into a business. But I am saying you don’t need to write things out of your life, or strangle your passion for them, just because they aren’t going to become businesses—or something equally huge—today or tomorrow.
I’m saying that you might actually be more passionate about something than you realize—or will allow yourself to believe—but won’t admit it because you can’t see how you can make it as big of a part of your life as you want it to be.
You can’t clearly see how to give more of yourself to this thing that you love, so you pretend it’s not important.
Then you spend more time on things that are more “productive”. You spend more time on things that seem like they could be more lucrative. You work on “getting yourself together” and claim that you’ll get back to that thing later.
And then, when you’re faced with some existential crisis, you tell yourself, “I can’t get anywhere because I’m not passionate about anything.”
The thing that you love, the thing that you’ve been talking yourself out of for years, doesn’t feel so exciting anymore. Probably because you’ve killed the idea in your head time and time again.
And, you think, if you were passionate about that thing, you’d still be excited about it. You’d still get goosebumps or butterflies. Because passion doesn’t just leave you. Right?
Listen, if I were your passion, I’d leave you, too. If you kept trying to kill the idea of me off, why should I stay? If you won’t give me a real chance to grow in your life? If you aren’t proud of being passionate about me? What’s the point?
If you don’t spend time with your passion—if you don’t work on developing yourself into a person who is capable of manifesting this passion in your life and in this world—do you really deserve to feel passionate about it?
Do you deserve to feel passionate about anything?
Yes, I’m asking you if you deserve to feel passion.
Do you deserve the wonderful feelings that come from something you don’t work to develop?
Do you deserve to be fed a constant stream of inspiration by something that you aren’t nurturing?
Should you really expect to get more out of something than you’re willing to put into it?
When you are living in your passion—full-time, part-time, or even sometimes—it can feel amazing. Especially if your passion is in line with your purpose.
There’s a fulfillment that you can’t even explain to people who haven’t felt it. You can ride that feeling into the sunset—and maybe even into the next sunrise. But, like a car, passion needs fuel.
Without fuel, passion is a powerful vehicle that could take you a lot of places, but isn’t about to take you anywhere.
You have to cultivate your passion. Feed it your work ethic. Feed it inspiration. Grow your passion so that it’s strong enough to get you through the inevitable days of hard work and frustration.
Some of you are letting the “it’s too hard” days and the “I’m not good enough” days make you think that you don’t love and want this as much as you do.
You have to work past that.
Stop expecting passion to be an unending source of motivational energy that doesn’t require any work on your part.
Overcome those frustrating days and watch yourself level up. Your passion will reach a new level of maturity. And it will encourage you to reach higher. And you’ll be able to do that, because you’ll be better at it.
Pour in to your passion and watch it pour right back into you.
When you’re ready to be honest about what you’re passionate about, you can lose the chains that keep you from living in that passion.
Like I said, you can melt your own chains with your honesty.
Well hell. This definitely resonates with me. I’ve been in a place for a really long time where I had those same thoughts “if I were really passionate about this it would be easy and always come to me” or “I can’t spend time on this because its not making me money” and others. This post was so, so needed. Even though I’m rediscovering many passions I had as a youngin but allowed to be displaced by the need to ‘adult’ (and the idea that adults can’t have fun, passionate lives outside of work is one I want to die a quick, fiery death), this is a great reminder and encouragement that I’m not regressing, that passion is good to have and cultivate and it does not have to be even a whit ‘productive’. Thank you, Naya!
Those “if I were really passionate about this it would be easy and always come to me” thoughts can really, really mess with you. Struggling to get really into a really good space with something you’ve been working on for years can make you think it’s just not meant to be—which isn’t necessarily the case.
Thanks for sharing, Tremaine!
Reading this touched on some of the sentiments I have had over the years, but I saw it just a bit differently. To me my 9-5 was sometimes like an arranged marriage to a wealthy woman, I spent most of my time with her (usually 9-10 hours a day), and took care of my responsibilities i.e. paying bills accumulating material wealth, and even providing for the future (savings, 401k’s etc.). And most importantly, it was a “sanctioned union” being it was the proverbial “Good Job, with great benefits” that signified success. Whereas over the years I had always treated my passion like it was my mistress, spending time with her when I could so that I could do something I love. I would siphon money to invest in my passion, taking classes, buying software and supplies etc.. I can even say that over the years we have done some beautiful and amazing things together. The thing is, I had always promised that one day I would devote all of my time to my passion and “live my true life” but it is a huge step to take. Just like the man who keeps promising his mistress that “one day we will be together, just you and me, I’ll leave her just as soon as…”, I just kept stringing my passion along dreading the possibility that once I am no longer tethered to “a real job”, I would starve.
Now I have come to the point of my life where it really is time to put up or shut up because If I keep stringing my passion along, a break up is imminent. …My story continues.
Paul! This idea of the “sanctioned union” is everything! The “good job” is supposed to be the dream—the end all be all. And then when we’re not 100% happy with it, it’s like something is wrong with us.
It’s amazing the way that you compared your experience to a tragic love story. Like you said, your story continues. I’m rooting for you to turn it all around!
This is legit. What I’ve realized in the last couple of months is that my relationship with my passions has evolved. So, how I fuel those passions has evolved too. I had to ask myself the hard “why” questions. Why do I like/love this? Why/how do I want to do this? I think some of us don’t want to answer those questions because they may tell us to bounce and we don’t want quitting to be an option. But those hard answers can be fuel for getting over a hump and pushing our passions to new levels.
Simeon! I love this!
I’m glad you were able to see the power in the “why” questions and use them to elevate your passion!
Thanks so much for commenting!