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Friday, August 27

Finding Your Passion

One of my friends is moving to Los Angeles in a few days to nurture her passion for music. After years of sitting idle on her passion, she finally decided at age 33 to get moving. She's trading in her quiet and spacious apartment for a friend's couch and her full-time job for temporary contract work. Some people characterize her move as foolish while others label it as faithful.

Either way, we recently got together for dinner, along with a few other friends, to celebrate her next chapter. Somewhere between appetizers and dessert, the curious journalist in me began firing off a series of questions to my friend who is leaving. "Why now? What is the number one thing you hope moving to LA will help you accomplish? Are you looking for love? Will you ever come back to visit?"

Some questions were asked more gently than others, but my friend answered them all with composure and grace.

This line of questioning led me to pose a question to the other ladies sitting around the table. "What is your passion?" One of my friends answered, "cooking, crafting, and dancing, among a few other things." We talked for a few minutes about how she should probably narrow down her interests and dedicate herself to one or two.

Then I turned to our other friend and asked her the same question. "What are you passionate about?" Her simple yet astonishing answer was, "nothing. " I probably wouldn't have been so put off by the answer if I was talking to a teenager or a 20-something emerging adult. My friend, however, is a 38-year-old woman who has held down successful corporate jobs, travelled the world and dated ex-NFL players. I thought that her amusing life would have uncovered something that she could be passionate about. So, when I heard that it hadn't, I was somewhat bewildered.

Everyone at the table felt sad upon hearing her answer, so we started offering up passions for her to attach to. One friend said, "What about fashion? You love fashion." Her response was, "No. I don't." The other friend said, "What about people? You love talking to people." Her response was, "I don't know if I love talking to people or if people just love talking to me." I said, "You've got to be passionate about something. Think about what you loved to do as a child." Her response was, "I don't remember."

The conversation, as you can imagine, got slightly depressing. And soon after the probing began, we pronounced the dinner "over."

I thought about my friend with no passion a little more after I got home, and I came up with a few things (which have probably been stated before in some kind of self-help book) that might help her or anyone else trying to uncover her passion.

Look to your childhood for clues. Our childhood usually marked the time in our lives when we were most honest with ourselves and did what we honestly enjoyed. We didn't have worry of bills, the responsibility of children or the headache of a spouse :-). We were free to be. Try to recall what you most enjoyed doing during those years or ask a parent if you can't remember.

Think about what people tell you you're good at. Another sign that may point towards your passion is what other people praise you for. This could be your ability to put together fly outfits, your cooking, your writing, or your ability to offer sound advice. Think about what others see in you that you might not see in yourself.

Try to answer the question "I'm most happy when I_________________." Give it some thought, and attempt to fill in the blank. It's ok if you can't answer it today or tomorrow or next month as long as you are considering the answer.

Think about the things you do without effort. I'm not talking about the activities you do as part of a daily routine like brushing your teeth or dressing the baby. I'm referring to things like creating a fly hairstyle or decorating your living room. Recognizing the things you do with little or no effort can help point you in the direction of your passion.

Don't be afraid of trial and error. Finding a passion is easier for some people than others and may require a bit of trial and error to discover what you're truly passionate about.

Once you've looked to your childhood for clues about your passion, talked to your parents, considered what others admire about you, figured out when you're most happy and made a list of the things you do without effort, start exploring. Everything probably won't lead to a burgeoning future, but something might. And you owe it to yourself to find out.

3 comments:

Moni @ CL Journal said...

Hello! Long time reader of your blog! : )

This is a very interesting post. I think perhaps that the second woman who cannot find her passion is simply so burned out that she may not even know if she had a passion to being with.

I know that feeling. I am in my mid 40's and I have let my passions get so far deep down that i also didn't know what I loved or wanted. I couldn't ask my parents nor grandparents as they are all deceased. But little by little I remembered that I was a child with a vivid imagination, that I liked making things, I liked acting out movies and commercials, I like watching someone cook, or sew, whatever. I remembered saying that I wanted to do certain things, but was told to go to school, get a good desk job...THAT I REMEMBERED.

I started cooking, decorating and my new found passion, that I love is making jewelry! I live in NYC and a native NY'er (born and raised) and although people feel that this is the city where you can make it (and you most certainly can); it can be harsh, unforgiving and brutal. I'm now looking to have peace and quiet in my life, after working and living the hustle and bustle of city life. But I never left, first because of family obligations (that I put on myself) second because of fear. Now, in my 40's I have realized that everything I wanted to do, I didn't because of fear and not wanting to disappoint my immediate family. Well, it's just me now, I am free to do whatever I want and will do it.

I love your advice, I also think that a woman should go on a long vacation by herself just to figure out what it is she wants. Sometimes it requires a good cry because you are so miserable doing what you are/have been doing you think it's too late and get emotional about it. It is NEVER to late.

I am in the process of doing what your friend is doing, I'm moving to another state. My thinking is if I don't like what goes on, I will move on, if not just come back home, recession be dammed. I wish your friend the best of luck in her new endeavors in pursing her passion!
: )

Candace Avont said...

Hey Moni! thanks so much for your feedback. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the suggestion that women should take at least one solo vacation. I did it two years ago when I went to Indonesia, and it was an amazing experience.

Congratulations on your decision to move and the advances you've made in self-discovery.

And thank you thank you thank you a million times over for reading my blog.

Peace! Candace

Brandiss said...

Thanks for this post. There are things that I am passionate about, but this post makes me wanna RUN after those things even harder. I don't want to wake up one day and be so stuck in the hustle of life that I forget what makes me ME.

I love reading about people like Moni also. So inspiring!