This post is in response to a “homework” prompt my professor gave me after I confided in him that I felt a bit lost where career was concerned:
Passion is a funny thing. To me, passion is consuming and blinding. It heightens our emotional responses and it can make us feel invincible or incredibly vulnerable. Passion is volatile, dangerous and fleeting – a flame in the dark, quickly snuffed out. It is the meaning of life and our ultimate undoing. Passion scares me.
When I was young I was passionate about everything. Any moment could be filled with love or hate by turns. I was a strong-willed child who knew what she wanted and always got it. I was persistent. I was persuasive. I was passionate.
In high school, I had a variety of unique opportunities to shine (politics, science, sports, music…you name it, I tried it) but the ones I enjoyed the most (and for which I received the most praise) were those that dealt with music. I am a gifted signer, so people have and continue to say. After being invited to 5 All State choirs and dozens of small choral groups and festivals I knew music was my passion. I geared my high school experience towards singing and when it came time to decide on a college and a major, I headed to DU to pursue a degree in Jazz Performance as a vocalist. I loved music in high school…and I hated it in college.
Growing up I had other hobbies. In particular, I spent a great deal of time reading. I was perfectly content to sit alone in my room, in the car, at restaurants and parties (even in movies) and just read. I was in love with the fantastical worlds and people in my books. And I was good at reading…and reading critically. I understood plot devices, recognized symbolism and rhapsodized to my unwilling parents about the overarching themes.
When I left music school, I decided to explore this other passion that I had set aside. My mother was very happy…she felt that studying English was my path all along. She told me that she had always admired my ability to entertain myself through literature. She envisioned me as a teacher…and so did the university. Now, I’m great with kids and I enjoy sharing knowledge and I can be very patient…but I do NOT want to be a teacher. I panicked. I don’t want to teach. I hate teaching. NOT being a teacher is a passion of mine. After a semester of boredom, frustration and fear of being forced into teaching, I quit English too.
After music and English schooling, I shelved my passions. I didn’t sing at all for the better part of two years and the only books I have read since 2011 are the Harry Potter series (…again). It hurts to remember how much I used to love those things. Now I only feel fear, hatred or apathy.
I decided to abandon passion, it had burned me too many times in my career aspirations…and I won’t even go into how it has burned me in relationships…so I was done with passion. Passion was too unpredictable. Passion had almost ruined me ($60,000 in debt, a brief stint on anti-depressants, living with a drug addict…I could go on…) so I wasn’t going to explore passion anymore.
When my dad passed, I resolved to grow up and leave behind my foolish childhood dreams and passions. Any lingering sentimental attachment to passion was buried in the wake of that loss. I threw away my costumes. I sold my PA system. I picked a nice sensible major with a wealth of career opportunities. Shockingly…I hate this too.
I’m pretty good at Mass Communications. I get it. I’m creative and analytical…but I’ve been pretty good at everything I’ve tried (with the notable exception being my season on the swim team my junior year of high school…that was a fiasco!). Aptitude does not equate to enjoyment or fulfillment. Since my father’s passing I don’t have the same emotional range that I used to. I don’t hate or love as fiercely as I used to…but I hate mass comm. I find my peers to be shallow, manipulative and lazy. I find the suject matter to be redundant and in many cases painfully obvious. I abhore the amount of group work forced on us and I find the “working for real clients” projects to be an unethical practice that takes advantage of inexperienced workers (aka students). But I graduate in the spring, so I’ll stick it out and get the stupid piece of paper that says “Ya done good.” It can’t hurt to have a bachelor’s degree after all this, right?
After I graduate, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I could get a job in mass comm, no problem. I could find work as singer or get my certification and be a great teacher too. Heck, I could brush up my mixology skills and bar-tend again and probably make more money doing that than anything else! But I don’t want to do any of those things. I don’t know what I want to do. Passion and logic have both failed me. I don’t want to do just any old job, but I am also afraid of getting burned by my passions again. I’m afraid that if I admit to being passionate about something I’ll find myself in the same situation again and I’ll end up hating another thing I once loved.
I know what I’m good at: public speaking, writing, singing, drawing, talking to and teaching kids, reading and analyzing texts, persuasion.
I know what I hate: mornings, desk jobs, math, strangers, alcohol and drugs, bars, nonfiction, research, meat.
I know what I like: yoga, archery, ukulele, compliments, boys.
And I know what I love: Scotland, England, science fiction, fantasy, books, costumes, sleeping in late, staying out late, conversing with friends, daydreaming.
I don’t think that knowing these things can help me find three passions. Even if I do find passion, I don’t know what I would do with it…run away most likely. Passion hurts, but so does life without passion. I don’t know if I can take the leap of faith into a new passion. I think I might like to write…but what if I start to hate that too? What do I do then? Where do I go next? I don’t know if I have three passions…my guess is that somewhere under my hurt and fear I have a hundred passions…but I don’t think I’m ready to uncover them yet.