Forget About Following Your Passion... and Try This Instead
I know what you’re thinking.
“Don’t follow your passion? What’s this lady talking about? Is she going to tell me next it’s okay to settle for mediocre? To get a boring job and slowly suffer as I punch in and punch out until I retire?”
Hear me out.
We’re all relentlessly sold on the idea of finding and following our passion. There are countless self-help books, blogs, and gurus who all have a similar message. We’re told to chase our dreams. Told not to give up. Told to follow our passion no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong. Passion is great. Passion can be a powerful driving force that helps us achieve our goals, and ultimately offer us a great amount of fulfillment in our lives.
Sure. Passion is great…
If you know what your passion is.
I don’t know about you, but there’s rarely been a time in my life when I knew deep down in my soul that I had a passion for something.
In fact, more times than not, I’ve felt paralyzed by the lack of having a passion. Demotivated and directionless, I would lay in bed and think to myself, “What is wrong with me? Why don’t I have a passion? Everyone else knows what they want to do with their lives… why don’t I?”
At the time, I didn’t realize that not a whole lot of us actually have that figured out. Think about it - the idea of choosing a passion or a dream that you must chase in spite of any obstacle is a lot of weight to put on one person.
To begin with, there’s so much pressure to figure out what this passion is. How can you know for sure? What if you’re wrong? Then what? The time is wasted? Do we put our lives on hold until we figure out what our passion is? Is all of our life a waiting game until we figure out what dream we’re chasing?
Can we all just agree to take a step back? Let’s all take a sec to breathe and realize that even if we don’t have an undying passion, we always have a curiosity.
Curiosity has a funny way of keeping me on the right path, even at a young age. When I was sixteen, my favorite pastime was spending hours browsing through photos on a site called Flickr. The idea of being able to capture a moment in time and then share it with the world was so intriguing. Each photograph was like a little bit of the photographer’s personality and perspective, captured and preserved forever.
I was curious to see what I could create if I had a camera of my own, so I bought a DSLR with a kit lens and started shooting. I’d go on long walks and photograph random things, like my feet and flowers. And man, I was bad. Let’s just say it’s a good thing those early “works of art” were lost in the great laptop crash of 2010.
Sure enough though, every day I was curious about something new. And any time that curiosity popped up, I found out what I needed to know, and go out into the world to practice.
It’s been 11 years now that I’ve been a photographer, and I make a living with many of the skills I started to learn when I was sixteen. And hey, I’d even say I’m a little bit better than I was before. I definitely take less photos of feet and flowers, at the very least.
The crazy thing is, photography was never a passion of mine. I never thought, “I have to follow this dream or else.” It was simply curiosity after curiosity, that eventually led to a developed skill set and - the most important thing - many happy moments.
So, if the idea of following your passion is tripping you up, try following your curiosity instead. Indulge the little voice inside of you that’s curious about a new idea or a new project. If you have a question, don’t let it go unanswered. Go find the information you need. Keep going towards your curiosity. It hasn’t failed me so far - and I don’t think it will fail you either.