I love me some Elizabeth Gilbert! When I heard her talk on Oprah's Super Soul Sessions about passion...or lack thereof...it resonated with me. So much so that I wanted to write my own blog article about it.
Like Elizabeth, I have spouted "follow your passion" for years. But unlike her, I was often confused about what my passion exactly was. It seemed to change. Come and go. I didn't know what to make of this. It seemed something was wrong with me. Wrong with my "passion." I didn't seem to have one...or at least not one very strong.
I have often been envious of others who seem to really have a passion. Or at least the determination to stick with whatever it was they chose as their line of work. You know, those people who say at a very young age, "I want to be a doctor (or teacher or writer...fill in the blank)," and then actually do that and follow that path for the rest of their life.
I admired that kind of passion. I longed for it. I've never had it.
Yet I still professed "follow your passion" anytime the topic came up. Also in my own head. I was just still on the lookout for what my passion was. I was still searching.
When Elizabeth shared the story about the woman who wrote to her about not having a passion...that was me! (Well, not actually me, but it could have been.)
The woman said she didn't have any one thing that set her heart afire and was her guiding light to build her whole life around. She had lots of different interests. She would pursue one, thinking that was it, then find out it wasn't, so she'd go after something else... Her interests often changed by the season, and she couldn't seem to keep up with all the interests she had.
That is definitely me. What about you?
This was also the story of Elizabeth's husband. He bounced around the world, following different interests and inclinations. When he was once challenged by someone, who pointed out he never had a central, guiding passion in his life and therefore, he wouldn't be able to leave a legacy because he never stuck with anything long enough.... When he was challenged by that person, he realized he did have a passion. His passion was "life itself."
So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?
Elizabeth suggests taking the word "passion" off the table. Stop focusing on that word. Stop trying to find it. Instead, investigate your curiosity.
We all have those little things that pique our curiosity. For whatever reason, we feel drawn to something. We want to learn more. We think it might just be what we've been searching for. But we're not sure. We're just curious.
That is what we need to give ourselves permission to look further into. When you feel curious about something, just look into it. Don't jump off the cliff. Don't give up everything, change everything, and run down that path. That's what "following a passion" asks...but not following a curiosity.
You may take a few steps in a direction that you were curious about and realize that's not for you after all. That's fine. Turn around and go back. After all, you only took a few steps down that path. See, that's the beauty of following your curiosities. You don't have to give up everything to learn more about them.
If, in fact, you do find something you want to pursue further, then you can. And you can still do it little by little. And if at some point along the way, your curiosity is satisfied and you're no longer interested in that thing...That is Ok! Follow the next curiosity. Look into it. Take a peek. See where it will lead.