For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired by (and maybe a little jealous of) anyone with a clear path, a single cause to fight for, a passion that rivals the North Star in providing guidance and direction.
The Dutch teenager (now not a teenager anymore) Boyan Slat who decided to devote his life to cleaning up the oceans. The woman who, in memory of her sister, founded the Komen Foundation, a movement raising awareness and increasing funding for breast cancer research. The swimmer who dives into icy waters around the globe to prove that climate change is real and that water temperatures are rising. I have never been and will likely never be one of those people who has such a single, laser focus.
However, passion comes in different shapes, sizes, and flavors.
In his Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) lyrics, Baz Luhrman says: “The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”
That does not mean his friends are necessarily directionless or uninspired. On the contrary, it may well be that they remain open to reinventing themselves and evolving. The beauty is that tomorrow you can be a different person to the one you are today. Whether that change is positive and powered by your passion or a side effect of you staying within your comfort zone is up to you.
As recently as a generation ago, studying biology meant working in medicine or for a research lab, and a degree in economics most likely lead to working in finance or academia. Today, our challenge — and our blessing — is that regardless of what you study or where you start out in life, your imagination, your drive, and your passion are the only limits.
At a job interview almost a decade ago, I was told that I had an impressive CV but that I had done “too many things” and came across as a butterfly, flitting from one flower to another. In the interviewer’s logic, I needed to stay in one place for a few years to prove that I was stable. As it turns out, I got the job, and I remained with that organization for just over three years. One of the greatest lessons I learned in the process was that I never again wanted to work for someone who saw my passion, as reflected in the diversity of my interests and experiences, as a downside.
(I never did point out to the interviewer that the butterfly plays an important role in pollination, so sticking to one flower would defeat one of its roles in the ecosystem.)
I had taken a windy, indirect path to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up — and it’s still a work in progress. Straight lines in life are overrated.
It took me years to realize that instead of fighting it, not having an overly precise focus was something to embrace as it is one of my greatest strengths. Problem-solving across the board — tackling anything ranging from farming to corporate issues and personal challenges — brings me satisfaction only rivaled by empowering individuals to see possibility where they previously saw obstacles. I love associating ideas and people in ways that may not seem relevant at first glance but reflect the fact that in real life, everything is linked.
In today’s world, we need to reconnect and reset. We need to understand that issues such as health and the environment are not two separate topics that need solutions and are competing for resources. Beyond subject matters, skills and potential for collaboration are worth building bridges.
It is time to rediscover the concept of working to live rather than living to work; to revive our passion, our humanity, our kindness.
“What would be the point of living if we did not let life change us?” - Carlson, Downtown AbbeyTweet It!
Over the past year, I have been traveling around the world, volunteering on farms. During my travels, the people I've met have taught me that passion comes in many forms and that a growing number of my peers are living outside the norm. They are creating the lives they want instead of waiting for happiness to come knocking.
I can only encourage this.
If you work in an office and you love it, that is wonderful. If, however, you are doing what you do by default, there is no better time than the present to take a step back and dig deep to see where your passion (or passions) lie.
We need to remember that change is not something to fear. It is the only constant in life, so we may as well embrace it and make it our “partner in crime” in our quest to rekindle the fire in our souls. Because without passion, there cannot be happy.
Not sure where to begin?
Read. Watch documentaries. Go to events about topics you’re curious about. Talk to people. Think about when you are happy and what stirred that heart-based feeling. Get a coach. Meditate. Set intentions. Sign up for a class or a workshop. Volunteer. Read some more. Travel. Call an old friend.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you do.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t have enough money to do what you want to do. Or that a relationship, family, or kids mean you’re stuck. All it might mean is that will be harder to figure things out, but it’s a choice. You can take the blue or the red pill, accept the status quo or jump down the rabbit hole.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” - Mark TwainTweet It!
Change rarely happens overnight. Even the mightiest oak started as a mere acorn and could have laid dormant for a lifetime if it did not find the right environment to sprout and grow.
So although transitions aren’t always easy, here’s to exploring, finding, and cultivating your passion so it — and you — can blossom. Think about it. Talk about it. Plan. And leap, or else you’ll never know how high you can fly.
Shahnaz Radjy is an adventurer, a foodie, a bookworm, and a horse-lover. As a writer, aspiring farmer, and eternal optimist, she shares some of her thoughts and adventures on her travel blog, via Medium, as well as on Instagram.
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