passion in no passion

I have a confession: I don’t have a passion. The holy grail of what you’re supposed to be doing with your life all lie in this idea that we are to have a driving passion. Something that gets you excited, keeps you going, and you’ll never grow sick of. To be honest, that idea sounds silly to me. I can’t possibly be passionate about pizza (not that there aren’t people who are)! Passion is not purpose. Terri Trespiscio presented at TEDxKC on the topic of passion, noting that “passion is not a path”. More often than not it is a false driver of success. When I was in business school, my instructor made it clear that one of his pet peeves was when students presented business ideas conceived with ‘passion’. Because passion is not quantitative nor pragmatic.

Stop your pity

When I tell people I don’t have a passion, they generally feel sorry for me. “Take some time to figure yourself out, it’ll come to you one day.” “Everyone is passionate about something, you just need to keep searching.” If I was someone who isn’t afraid to try new activities, travel beyond my comfort zone, or socialize and engage, perhaps I haven’t explored enough to discover a passion. But that’s not me. Just because I don’t have a passion does not mean I don’t enjoy doing anything. In fact, I enjoy doing LOTS of things.

Passion is not for everyone

For those who have discovered their passion, fantastic! My argument is that it’s not for everyone. I am not driven by passion or have any one particular thing that motivates me. Saying you’re passionate about helping others is like saying you just want to be happy. What does it mean?

Passion is an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. When you’re passionate you feel joy, excitement, and a tireless ability to persevere. Whether you’re passionate about sports, business, animals, etc, it’s meant to contribute to the meaning of life.

Interestingly enough, passion derives from the Latin word, pati, or passio meaning suffer. How did such a negative experience become such a positive term in modern day English?

What if passion isn’t so much about how 5am hockey practices make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Or that you just want give every screaming 3 year old a big ‘ol hug every time you see them. Maybe passion is what you have to give up in order to achieve the things you can become excited about. One of my favourite articles by Mark Manson poses the questions “How do you choose to suffer?” and “What is the pain you want to sustain” in order to achieve the life you want to live. Pain is inevitable but how do you choose what you are willing to sacrifice and suffer for that thing you call passion will determine how much value it has on what, why and how you do things.

“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.”

– Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

So next time you look at someone who doesn’t have a passion like they’re missing out on life’s biggest phenomenon, ask yourself this, “what have you suffered for that makes you passionate about your passion?”

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