What finding your passion is like
Finding your passion is like reaching the finish line of a Marathon and being told you just qualified to run another Marathon. Imagine doing this over and over again. That’s what life after finding your passion feels like.
Before we get started, here’s something you should know about my marathons:
I never finished.
Just as I would start one, I would notice people running a different Marathon got fancier t-shirts. So I’d quit running the current one and start all over again in a different marathon — fancy t-shirt and all.
Until 2017, I had tried everything from Chess to Guitar to Magic to Rubik’s cubes. Fancy (t-shirts)! While I’ll admit they had a, for the lack of a better word, profound impact on my dating life, the fanciness left me feeling like a one person celebrity couple: lovely and perfect on the outside, antsy and jaded on the inside.
Even as I dropped out of marathons, I never dropped out of running. And that’s what helped me finish the first metaphorical marathon in 2017: Writing one essay on this blog every week.
Sure, people accomplish bigger things in faster times, but the act of finishing was a big deal for me. I don’t know if I found my passion. But I definitely found something. Because, for the first time, I was running the race instead of the other way around.
Okay. So let’s assume you finished the race, realized this is one you want to run again, and can’t wait to find out what’s next. If you are expecting someone at the finish line to welcome you, hand you a towel, a medal, and a detailed plan of what you should do next, you are about to learn the most important post-passion lesson:
And this will haunt you for the rest of your post-passion journey. Everything you create and do will feel like a masterpiece and the fact that the world doesn’t see it the same way will consume you. This is your baptism by fire. This is the hardest part to get over.
With the hardest part out of the way, the rest of this section is everything I’d tell you if I were at the finish line welcoming you.
Boredom. Frustration. Loneliness. Hatred. Numbness. Brokenness. Anxiety. Dread. Fear. Envy. Anger. Confusion. Suffering. Desperation. Regret. Resentment.
Yeah. I can be a very welcoming fella. In case you think finding a passion is an escape from these emotions, you couldn’t be more wrong. Your passion will only plunge your deeper into these emotions.
Post-passion life is like having OCD and ADD at the same time. And that’s the very thing that makes it worth a try. It teaches you to empathize with suffering.
The point of finding your passion is not money or fame, but an ability to feel your emotions more deeply than you otherwise would. It’s the difference between living and existing.
(At this point, you may be getting annoyed at how elitist this essay sounds. So here’s something: You don’t need one passion to live a deeper life. We will get to that in the next section.)
Post-passion life is not very different from the first marathon you finished. If anything, the running gets harder. The passion only helps ensure you focus, persist and stay the course. Your passion is what pushes you down and then helps you get up. It makes you angry and then helps you forgive. It cracks you open and then heals you.
It’s both a disease and a cure. You are both the doctor and the patient.
The greatest post-passion myth is you need to follow a solitary passion and run the same agonizing race for the rest of your life. No one’s really ever done that. Everyone’s gotten bored and restless and run smaller races on the side.
You have wasted away your passion if you don’t do that. The whole point of the passion is to prepare you for the adventure and ambiguity in different parts of your life. This is what prompted me to make some big changes over the last year.
Finally, before I let you go here’s the greatest post-passion crap: Once I find my passion, I will be unstoppable.
Oh, no. You will be very stoppable. Very hauntable. Very boreable.
If anything, this is what I would give you as you start your next race:
1. Find your passion and let it kill you.
2. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But, Still, Yet
If you are thinking, “Yeah, all this marathon shit is fine and it’s great that you decided to write this elusive essay for people who found their passion, will you actually tell me how to actually get to this stage? Because even though you told me it’s okay to not find my passion and how much post-passion life can suck, I still want to experience all that myself!”
First off, I empathize. Second, you think I don’t feel lost and have the same questions you have? I feel that way all the time. Third, so does everyone else.
But since this is so important to you (and me), here’re three more things (in addition to part 1) that might help. Ironically, these points become stronger after you’ve found your passion.
1. It’s not about you: There’s this cultish phenomenon known as a personal brand. If you’ve used the words hustle, grind or lifestyle design, you’ve experienced this phenomenon. This is not passion. This is fast food for the ego. It’s the bullshit on the bull.
Passion is larger than this. And much slower. The earlier you can make peace with it, the sooner can you clear the fog that’s preventing you from finding what you truly want. If I started this blog with the goal of getting ‘X’ number of subscribers or readers, I would have shut it down after a couple of months. There are essays in this blog I have poured hours into which languish in obscurity. Does it hurt?
It feels like shit. For a while. Because before I know, I am pouring hours onto the next essay. Because that’s what really matters. Most often, you aren’t getting through to your passion because there’s this thick fog of validation and expectation preventing you from seeing what you really want.
You don’t want to be the next Gates or Rowling or Da Vinci. You want to be the people they were in the face of adversity; you need the hope, dedication, work ethic these people displayed. It’s not about them just as much as it’s not about you. It’s about something larger. Always.
Here’s a question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Here’s the point: you are the tree.
2. Money/Fame/etc.,: Rich & famous people will tell you these can’t be your sole motivations in your passion journey. Since I am neither, here’s something else: If these things motivate you and help you get ahead with losing your sanity and integrity, knock yourself out.
But be prepared to get up after being knocked out, over and over again. Because from what I hear that’s going to happen a lot when these become your driving forces. In case you get knocked out, here’s useful advice: Forgive yourself, ask for help, and eat some chocolate. Not staring at your fatalistic navel helps.
3. Your passion will never help you put a dent in the universe: This may sound contradictory, but this is your greatest freedom if you take it. Your passion, at best, will lend a semblance of usefulness to your life. Other than that, there’s not much in there. If you are planning to leave a long legacy because of it, here’s my advice: Don’t waste your time.
As much as possible, try to be kind, loving, and forgiving – a lot more than you think you are capable of. People who do this are the only ones that continue to live on. These are the only stories my parents tell me.
These people are not people with whom I spent the most amount of time or the ones who were traditionally successful. They were extraordinarily kind people whose life stories always tear me up. I wish I could’ve spent more time with them instead of only having to hear about them. Passion or not, I wish I become half the human they were. You’ve people like this all around you. In the quest for passion, don’t let them go unnoticed.
The people who dent your universe are people that found a passion in what truly matters above everything else: Love, kindness, and humaneness.
Your legacy will catch herpes and die. Love spreads like a cure for an epidemic. It’s the only story we tell.
It’s the answer to now what. At the end of every finishing line.