• Priya Sharma Shaikh

Follow your passion


Follow your passion! An advice I'm sure you’ve heard from enough and more people. But how do you follow your passion?

My passion was singing and I do believe and was told by several keen listeners that I have a crystal clear voice and sing in perfect tune. However, I was unsure of how to go about things or didn't know whom to ask. The journey of becoming a professional singer seemed far too daunting for may family than me getting a regular job. So I dropped chasing my passion.

Basically, nobody comprehensively explains how to follow your passion. Except for the few people who’ve always known what they want to do in life – we all know a few of them – almost no one has any clue where their passion lies, leave alone following it.

So passion is a much hyped word that is absent from the lives of many people who go through life without finding their passions.

In fact generations of humans have lived and evolved quite well without finding their passions. Yes, caste and class forced them to continue doing the same work that their parents did before them and in that sense we are certainly better off. But this ‘cult of passion’ has gone out of hand as well and there seems to be no respite in sight. Wherever we look, we are made to believe that there is no salvation but in ‘following our true calling’.

But how do I find my passion?

This is the most common question faced by those of us who’re not born with one. There are no easy answers to finding your passion. Don’t worry if you don’t have a passion. Like I said above, not everyone is supposed to have one. It’s a mythical concept, much like ‘eternal love’, perpetuated and recycled endlessly by popular media. No one explains it as well as Cal Newport.

Why ‘follow your passion’ is a bad advice

It may happen to a few people out there, but most people can live perfectly well without finding ‘their true calling’. So, you don’t need to stress yourself out. And let’s drop this word, passion, for now and it’s too loaded.

But what if I go through life without knowing what I was supposed to do?

There’s nothing that YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO, so for heavens sake stop saying that and worrying about it. We are not destined to do things, we make choices, find our way through things and only in hindsight do those things appear logical and pre-destined. We are storytellers, each one of us, and we do a brilliant job of making connections where none exist and building narratives.

But shouldn’t I at least try and find out what I love to do?

Yes, that’s better. How we frame questions is sometimes more important than the answers themselves. Badly framed questions can trap us in cycles that sometimes become life-debilitating.

But what if I never find anything I love?

Love is a strange concept. There are people who’ve vouched eternal love for one another only to fall out of it in time. And then there are people who’ve grown to love each other over years of mutual co-existence. It applies as much to jobs as to people. Most people who’re today held up as examples of ‘following their passion’ didn’t follow their passions to start with but cultivated it over years of working on it. Like Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame says here, your happiness on the job has very less to do with the work itself.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are making a dent in the world for it to get better. Sometimes your job gives you just the right kind of kick by putting you in situations that you excel in.

Sometimes you love your job because it lets you be around things and people that you are deeply interested in.

There’s no template to this. And there are no definite answers either. The world doesn’t owe you a job that you love. Don’t let an obscure dream derail your chances in the real world. Keep plugging away at things that interest you, and as you get better at them, you may find that you’ve become passionate about them.

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