The notion of a single passion or purpose can be unnerving. The two concepts have grown into something unpleasantly large and abstract.
Passion and purpose, as you will see throughout this essay, are often used interchangeably. Their meanings are hazy. They involve much effort for little certainty. And the debate over their usefulness is unsettled.
Yet somehow, we can’t go a week without contemplating whether we are doing something passionate or purposeful with our lives.
Passion in the 21st Century
The Internet resulted in an epidemic of choices. These choices amplified the noise on passion and purpose. The choices also paralyzed us, leading us to conclude passion and purpose had run their course.
In truth, they had only changed course.
While finding a passion was a thing of ambition in the 20th century, it’s a survival mechanism in the 21st. We resist it because it can be stifling. Because we don’t want to let go of the other choices. Because a solitary passion is not adventurous.
The point of finding your passion is not about the passion as much as it is about the finding. Passionate people are not looking for great ends, they are looking for great journeys.
Purpose and passion are road-signs on that journey. They help make life more manageable. They break the world into comprehensible bits. Instead of getting lost in the sheer magnitude of infinite possibility, they help you take the road of struggle, ambiguity, and discovery. They are not abstract concepts to be scared about. They are wild concepts to courageously take on. They are not the road not taken. They are the signs not noticed.
The Virtue of Passion
Behind the veil of abstraction, Passion is responsibility. We can’t run away from it because it sounds phoney. Passion is not shameful. It’s the bravest thing you can do because that’s what taking responsibility means.
It’s okay to change the direction of your journey. To occasionally wander off. To explore. To start following different signs.
And you will run into dead-ends. Your road will sometimes plummet you down an open sea in which you will drown in choices and mistakes and hopelessness. And you will inevitably be lost. But there’s meaning to being lost this way.
You don’t become a failure because you don’t have a passion. Chances of you failing are highest after you find your passion. And that’s what you must risk. That’s real adventure.
How to find your passion
Since that’s a universally shitty answer, here’re three things that may be helpful:
2. Try a lot of things. But don’t go after the next new thing because it’s the next new thing. Go after it because the trying is what matters to you. Because the process is what determines how long you will remain passionate.
3. And finally, here’s a really deep story: Buridan has a nice ass. Let me try that again. Buridan has a nice donkey. Donkey is hungry. Donkey is thirsty. Donkey is standing between a pile of hay and a pail of water. It keeps looking left and right deciding between hay and water. Unable to decide, it eventually falls down and dies of hunger and thirst. You have more choices than ever. Don’t be a donkey.