How many times in your life has someone like a teacher or a parent or a friend told you to “find your passion”? People act like finding your passion in life will solve all of life’s problems. Don’t like school? Find your passion. Are you struggling in your soul-sucking corporate job? Find your passion. Not satisfied caring for your children all the time and homemaking has you down? Find your passion. I have heard this statement so many times that the next time someone says it, I might just throw my drink at them.
I think the reason that so many people are asking themselves this question, and the reason so many people use this canned answer, is that modern life can be notoriously unfulfilling. Millions and millions of people sit in office jobs for 40 or more hours a week doing work that is essentially pointless. I know this because I used to be one of them. I worked in accounting and literally shuffled paper over my desk everyday. I stapled packing slips to invoices, keyed them into the system and then filed them. The paper went from pile to pile, file drawer to file drawer. I was the classic definition of a paper pusher, and spoiler alert! I was completely unfulfilled. But I did get promoted and eventually paid pretty well, so that was success right? I could buy things like cars, smartphones, clothes, a house (eventually) and pay back student loans. Never mind that I came home depressed, never really able to get my mind off the office politics, and was constantly worried that one mistake would get me fired. But the only solution I was ever offered was: Find your passion. Ugh.
Everything I read online, my friends, and my family, all stated that I just needed to find something that I liked doing. Really, that’s it? I really like watching movies and surfing the internet. Is there a paying job in that field? I like reading books, traveling, cooking, walking the dog, crafting, and gardening. Can I monetize anything like that? Maybe if you are willing to go it alone and start some sort of business. Which I did. For about two years I ran a craft business on the side (selling handmade soaps and lotions). This was around the time Etsy and Pinterest was taking off and everyone and their brother was trying to build a craft business. Fun times. I did like making the soap, but I could never sell enough to make a meaningful profit. I thought I could be passionate about it, and that this might really work. But like most small businesses, I failed. It turns out that most people in my area are just cheap and can’t bear to spend four dollars on a bar of soap, even if it was handcrafted and made from all natural ingredients. Needless to say, my “passion” fizzled out on that one. So I continued on the journey to find my passion.
Who am I kidding? I just kept going to work every day and tried to build some semblance of a life with my husband in our very limited free time. But then, a surprise happened. I became pregnant. With twins! Our life was turned upside down. It has been a whirlwind ever since. But my quest to find a passion has continued, even if only in the back of my mind.
In my free time (which comes in fits and spurts and sometimes in less than 20 minute intervals) I’ve thought a lot about my elusive passion search. Although now I think that we as humans aren’t meant to just have ONE passion. And that passion is not just something that you can easily monetize and it definitely won’t solve all your problems. A lot of people are passionate about cooking (like myself), but obviously not all those people have a cooking show. Or even a cooking blog or a published cookbook. And just because you are a passionate cook does not mean you will have the same talent as Julia Child. We can’t all be an expert in the things we enjoy.
So I decided to be passionate about cooking for my family. I make it a point to cook from scratch for at least one meal a day (usually dinner) and because I spend time looking up new recipes to try, my family gets a variety of new things to eat. My kids spend time with me in the kitchen and they are learning to try new foods. My husband enjoys my cooking and I get a sense of accomplishment out of my day. I actually get to do something that I am passionate about. But you know what the cool part is? It’s not the only thing I’m passionate about that I actually get to do. Since I’ve decided to cook every day, I decided to read (a little) every day. I read with my kids which is a a joy in itself. I planted a garden and I make an effort to keep my flower beds weeded and healthy. Even though I don’t spend my entire life doing any one of these things, these small passions keep me going and keep me sane.
Because you can’t live your life with only ONE passion. You have a full life to live, and that life is going to be full of things you are most definitely NOT passionate about. Like laundry, dishes, cleaning toilets….but I digress. So finding small things to be passionate about and actually do in your regular life is probably more realistic for many people. It definitely worked for me, and I encourage you to stop looking for your one passion and discover the multitude of passions in your life.