There are two types of people: those who know their passion and follow it and those who struggle to find it. The latter group would better stop looking and start taking action before they fall into a deep depression.
I have always admired the first group: people who knew what to do with their lives. Those who don’t overthink, who have a very clear goal and just go for it despite the doubts. I don’t admire though their assurance that everybody is the same. We hear their advises from every corner: ”Just do it”, ”Follow your passion no matter what”, ”You need to believe in yourself and your dream will come true”, ”Dig deeper and you’ll find it in you”.
But what if I can’t find my one and only passion? What if the constant quest gives me anxiety and frustration? I believe that the narrative of ”the true calling” pushes people to look for what they may never find.
We need to remember that we are wired in different ways, hence prescribing the same approach to everybody is not optimal. The definition of success and happiness is individually customized. I was very happy to find like-minded people proving that my fears of not being able to ”connect to my true self” and discover my passion are familiar to others as well.
I don’t want to deny the importance of meaningful life and inner purpose driving us to move forward. What I want to say is that sometimes a meaningful life doesn’t necessarily imply writing a best-seller or becoming a Hollywood star. I have realized that none of the activities I have tried seemed to be the only thing I wanted to do in life. The thought of committing myself to one thing and act on it every single day seemed depressing to me. Nonetheless, I kept searching, being certain that the time hasn’t come yet, that I need to put more effort. I ended up thinking that I was doing something wrong, that I was worse than those who managed to find their passion, that I was not able to find it. These destructive thoughts led to the idea of me not deserving successful and meaningful life. And this is dangerous. This way of thinking undermines our self-respect and destroys the confidence.
To give an example, when I am inspired and in search for treasures in my soul, I start dreaming about becoming an artist. I sometimes even get courageous enough to check up art classes. And suddenly, this eternal question hits me: ”Are you sure this is your true calling?”, generating the never-ending flow of doubts from ”My guts don’t turn upside down, hence this might not be the thing” to ”There are more passionate people who will surely be more successful then me”. As a result, I lose motivation and get discouraged by the lack of ”greatness” and of certainty within me that this activity is worth investing.
At some point I realized that instead of putting pressure on myself, a much healthier approach would be to change the perspective.
First, it is needed to accept that it is ok not to wake up every morning with the passionate feeling of commitment to one activity. It doesn’t mean you are less-worthy or that your life doesn’t have a meaning. There surely are many things making your days shine and your face smile. If your heart is filled with love, isn’t that a sign of a meaningful life?
Secondly, I have heard once that instead of thinking what to do, you can start doing something. Anything that comes to your mind and seems like an interesting activity might be a life-changer. Instead of endlessly pondering the question what occupation will bring you happiness, go out there and experiment. This approach could be effective for over-thinkers like me, who can be easily lost in thoughts. Why not to try attract motivation by being active?
Go to that drawing class, send the CV to the company you have been thinking about, write a post on the topic which has been on your mind for a while, and see what happens. In other words, do what seems inspiring to you without thinking about results, but for the sake of enjoying the activity itself. Will it become the life-long passion? Nobody knows, maybe. But what you can be sure about is that you will stop struggling and start doing what you like. Your day will become more dynamic, triggering your motivation and making life more fulfilled and meaningful.
Because you can’t start a fire without a spark.