Passion is Overrated

If you are like most people, you probably grew up listening to advice that go something along the lines of “follow your passion”, “do what you love”, and most importantly, DON’T SETTLE, whatever you do.

While this advice might work for some people like Steve Jobs and Josh Campbell who managed to discover their passion early in life and spent the rest of their life pursuing it, what about the rest of us?

Because I would like to make the bold conjecture that only few people (gasp!) have a real passion in life, and that most people are interested in a lot things without any overriding passion, and while a lot of people may have the potential to become passionate about something, it might take them so long to find out what that something is that it’s probably not even worth the time to go looking.

What then? Are all us passion-less people doomed in the sense that we’ll never find our holy place, or that we’ll never change the world/course of history in a dramatic way, or we’ll never truly get in touch with that elusive, unchanging “real” self that is buried deeply within us beneath layers and layers of “not-real” self?

Because according to law school admission officers, the number one excuse students give for bad grades is that they were not studying a subject they were passionate about, to which the admission officers typically respond with something like “well guess what, most people aren’t passionate about filing tax returns or personal hygiene, but we still expect you to do it.” What this seems to suggest is that even if you’re not doing something you’re passionate about, society still expects you to be productive, and you are still able to be productive, even if you’re not feeling completely satisfied along the way.

Additionally, the obsessive focus on passion can be harmful in that it can lead people to concoct false passions, and the day they discover that they have wasted too much time or made too much sacrifices for a mistaken passion can be a difficult one.

Also, there are plenty of extremely successful people like supermodel Paulina Porizkova who have openly admitted that they’re not passionate about what they do, and they just sort of fell into it, and it worked out for them. Perhaps passion can help pave the way to success, it is by no means a requirement for success and it most certainly doesn’t guarantee success.

Lastly, I have heard of plenty of stories of people who started out doing things in which they were only mildly interested, only to develop a passion for it later on.

To sum things up, don’t buy into the idea that you have to ceaselessly look for your passion. Chances are there are already plenty of things you care about, like helping people, or spending time with your friends and family, or living a comfortable lifestyle, and if you have a career that allows you to do these things (maybe not as much you’d like, but still), isn’t that a blessing in and of itself, and isn’t that something to be glad about?

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