At my age it’s hard to find anyone who isn’t in the midst of an existential crisis. We are all in that stage between childhood and adulthood where we are learning and experiencing all these new ideas and emotions. We are sifting through dune-sized piles of information and trying to decide what makes sense. Everything is being sucked into this wormhole of ideologies, concepts, experiments and ideals, and funneling back out, across the universe, becoming some semblance of the person we will one day be.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s as fun as it is frustrating. There are endless possibilities for what we came do and who we will become. Sometimes though, it can be so unbelievably overwhelming that it’s hard to get up in the morning. I’m not sure if it’s because I am a creative (that’s a talk for another day) but it feels like there is no clear path for me. I have all these ideas, all of these solutions, images and passions that are fighting their way out of me and I’m just not fast enough to create them. I don’t know what direction I should be heading or what I should be doing with my life. All I know is that I never want to be stuck.
I don’t want to be stuck doing a job I hate in a place I don’t like with people I can’t stand. I see so many people going through the motions. Day in, day out, they show up to whatever job they have, do their best to get through the day and go home, too exhausted to do anything else. They tell me that it’s just how life works. You go to school, get a job, pay your bills and survive. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. Just get through it for the paycheck and use your spare time for the things you like. The spare time that you never have because your so emotionally exhausted from going through the motions.
It seems like such a waste of passion. I know I will never be able to do that. It’s not in me. I want to love what I do. I grew up being told to utilize my skills and abilities. I never had the white picket fence dream and as I look around me during the day, no matter where I am, I always feel that little pang in my heart for those people who have resigned themselves to being miserable. That’s not to say that everyone is like that. I swear, the women and men at Starbucks are some of the most joyful people that I’ve ever met. But you know the miserable ones when you see them and you have to wonder why they never tried for anything more.
It’s now that I blame possibilities. There are so many choices and so little guidance that it’s no wonder everyone leaves school confused. We are given degrees in a specific field but the truth is that no one knows what our personal possibilities are.
What can I do with this?
Why would I do it?
How can I apply what I know?
So many other questions and no one to help you answer them. It’s here, at your lowest and most confusing points that passion comes in.
All of us are born with passions. We can love one thing or many things. Passion is that feeling you get when you just can’t stop thinking about something no matter how hard you try. Maybe you love plants or math. Maybe it’s something as specific as designing highways and analyzing traffic patterns. Or, maybe you love a lot of things. Personally, I love quite a few things. I am passionate about animal rescue, education, storytelling, museum exhibits, children’s book illustration, culture and language.
When I graduated with my degree in Advertising & Graphic Design I felt stuck. I thought that I was limited to things that fell under that category. It was suffocating and limiting. It took me two years to start making personal art again and it has only been in this last year that I really started thinking about how I want to live my life. I wasn’t enjoying design anymore so I took a step back to re-evaluate where I was going and none of it involved any of my passions. I had relegated myself to enjoying my passions in my spare time which made my day job so much less enjoyable. That’s when I decided that it was time to make my passions into my job.
Obviously, I am just starting to do this. I am making plans and generating ideas to combine the things that I care most about. I have the freedom to create my own dream job and I am going to fight for it. In the ever inspirational words of Lizzie Bennet I plan to “Save the world, change the culture.”
As an example, here is Sir Patrick Stewart, whom I think we can all agree is pretty much the coolest guy ever, talking about how he has been pursuing his passions. Making you cry is an unavoidable byproduct of his awesomeness.
Now, here is the part where I do my best to give you tools to (hopefully) inspire you. It’s been a number of things that have lead me down my current path, many of which are life experiences and people who are unique to my own life, but some of them are available to everyone and I’ll leave them here for you to peruse at your leisure.
Firstly, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. A webseries about a 24-year-old Mass Communications graduate student with a whole lot of passion and very little direction. Really, it’s a modern day take on Pride and Prejudice but if that’s all you get out of it then I feel sorry for you. This is the entire playlist if you’re feeling awesome.
The next is… *gasp*…a book. Self-help books have a bit of a stigma for being exclusively for nerds and introverts so it’s no surprise when the author is one as well. The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick is the best book for creatives who want to take control over their lives. Chris uses gaming terms, scifi references and his own personal struggles to explain to you how your brain works and how you can control it. Seriously, give it a read. I promise you a brand new dice set that you won’t regret it.
The last thing I’ll share for now is TEDTalks. I didn’t know that anybody hadn’t at least heard of TEDTalks until I was getting dinner and telling my stepdad about the videos I watched today. He had no idea what I was talking about and I couldn’t believe it. TEDTalks are one of our greatest resources. We have some of the greatest minds in the world gathering to discuss, collaborate and speak on the most relevant topics and challenges facing our world. The videos are free and accessible through YouTube as well as TED.com and it would be well worth your time to make it through them. This one is the most relevant to this post and if you enjoy it, look up some of Larry Smiths other videos concerning career adice.
I hope you are now a little more inspired than you were when you stumbled upon this post. I’ll leave you with my current mantra in hopes that you will join me on the journey of making your passion into your career. Don’t let fear get in your way.