‘What is your passion?’ is something I hear often these days. This question is asked to people of all ages – from children in high schools to adults well into their fifties.
Just like every generation brings a trend or terminology with it, I am beginning to realize that this is probably a trend of the days. And, its irritating. I’ll tell you why.
Because I believe that this question is as difficult to answer as ‘What is the purpose of life?’ or ‘When did this universe exactly come into being?’ or ‘What happens after you die?’
You may argue that these are abstract questions with multiple possible answers whereas ‘what is your passion’ can potentially have a singular answer. But, the thing is passion carries a deeper weight to it. So, if someone asks me, ‘what are you interested in these days?’ I’d find it easier to answer but when they say passion I’m stumped. I’d feel like I’m committing to something and that I’ve to be invested in it over time. There is a timeless quality about the word passion. That’s a challenge because most things I’m passionate about can be transient.
I’m passionate about writing, about sharing my thoughts but there are days when I don’t feel like doing it and have to whip myself to do my job. Does that mean I do not like it? No, it just means I’m human. But, there are such bad days and on such a day, you don’t want to be on the other side asking me this question.
Consider another example. People fall in love and carry indescribable amount of passion into the relationship. But, is that passion ever lasting? I don’t think so. Relationships evolve and the initial intensity fades away, although the love remains. It’s just that the love manifests itself in a different form, most probably in a subtler manner.
Think about what you really knew about the world and yourself in high school days. Pretty much nothing. Okay, maybe a little bit. But, you are forced to choose a career direction around the age of 18, when you have such limited exposure to the world and therefore less understanding of the way you respond to different things, activities or scenarios. So, you end up choosing something based on whatever you’re reasonably good at, at the age of 18. From there things can go any way.
You may continue being good at it, even get better at it and a fortunate few may even enjoy doing that forever. But, mostly with age, things change, interests change and your so called ‘passion’ too changes.
Now, you’re depressed that you’re no longer interested in your original passion because well, you’ve been saying all these years that was your passion and you don’t want to look like you’re reversing your path. Some people though manage to see the light and show the courage to shift trajectories. Some continue to stay in the same course, subconsciously realizing that they’re not where they’re meant to be.
If all this sounds dreary, sorry but life is tough. And an increasing number of people are caught in this web trying to find their true ‘calling.’ Question is – is there really one such thing? Maybe for a handful, but for most people this can be tricky.
I don’t claim to have an answer to this problem. What helps though, I think, is the awareness that things can and will change, and that’s okay. That’s perfectly okay because that’s life. It just means that you’re also changing, growing up, learning new things, getting good at different things while sucking at some others!
What I believe is NOT overrated is having a hobby, or even many hobbies. Developing multiple interests – like playing a sport or an instrument. At times, when life kicks you down, these hobbies are the one that come to rescue you. These distractions give you a breather from the intensity and hectic nature of life. Mostly these are fun for what they’re but also because they’re purely done for pleasure with no lofty goals. Not discouraging goals here, but sometimes we tend to take ourselves too seriously unable to differentiate between our identity, our goals and the results. This is when hobbies act as a lifeboat – a way to expend all the energy, a way to let off steam and a way to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.