I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. We’re told to find our passion and follow it, find a way to love our work, or turn what we love into a career, commit, dive in, give it all you’ve got.
What if you don’t have just one passion? What if you are interested in lots of things, that might seem to be contradictory?
I’m a programmer. I love details of systems, understanding it all, pulling it apart, putting it back together. I’m also an artist, a creative, a designer, a crafter, a photographer. And those aren’t just hobbies, those are passions. But it’s hard to see how they can come together, and you know what? That’s OK.
What if though, you’re not so old (or ugly)?
I think the advice to find your passion can be damaging to children who haven’t. One of the tenets of unschooling is to let your children follow their passions, and that’s can seem kind of hard if your child doesn’t seem able to express any. You can feel that you’re failing as a parent or a home educator. (This applies just as much to children in school too – it’s hard to pick options if nothing really sings out to you, or plan your university applications if there’s no one subject that you can imagine studying for 3 years. Or even worse sometimes, if there are 6 you can’t choose between.)
I was discussing this this morning, and someone pointed me to this fabulous Ted Talk on multipotentialites. It’s 12 minutes, so not terribly long – grab a cuppa and get comfortable.
(That’s Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don’t have one true calling if for any reason it doesn’t embed – link here )
Don’t have 12 minutes? Here’s the summary:
So with that said, if there is one thing you take away from this talk, I hope that it is this: embrace your inner wiring, whatever that may be. If you’re a specialist at heart, then by all means, specialize. That is where you’ll do your best work. But to the multipotentialites in the room, including those of you who may have just realized in the last 12 minutes that you are one —
to you I say: embrace your many passions. Follow your curiosity down those rabbit holes. Explore your intersections. Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life. And perhaps more importantly — multipotentialites, the world needs us.
This seems to me to be great advice. It also echoes that in the speech that Kurt Vonnegut didn’t give:
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
(It’s actually Mary Schmich in the Chigago Tribune – full article here )
It’s hard being a teenager at the best of times. It’s harder still if you feel you can’t get the one thing right that everyone else does – knowing what your passion is. But maybe, just maybe, you aren’t supposed to have just one passion, and that’s OK too.