This is something I’ve been pondering for a while; one of the many ways my self-doubt has tried to mess with me lately. We’ve ALL heard the advice. It’s almost taken on some mythical status anymore. Follow Your Passion! It’s the key to the universe!
There’s a few issues that never seem to get addressed though. The OBVIOUS first question is “What if you suck at what you’re passionate about?” Let’s be honest, IF it’s something you’re TRULY passionate about, you’re going to work at it till you get not just good but great at it (even if you need training to grow). 95% of the time that’s true anyway. There’s that other 5% or so that just doesn’t have the aptitude for something they’re passionate about.
Then there’s is your passion viable for supporting yourself and a family? The financial guy I listen to on the radio rails against following your passion for that reason. “Spending 10s of thousands of dollars to get a degree in left handed puppetry is idiotic”. OK, extreme example, but he makes a point. Some things are going to take more effort and have lower payoff than others. The average engineer is going to make more than the average writer or artist. You have to take a hard look at earning potential and decide if you’re OK with it. Don’t blame others for the choice you make here either.
The good thing is that people can find multiple things they’re passionate about. If one doesn’t work, look at another one. Expose yourself to as many ideas and careers as possible. You may be surprised what you find you’re drawn to. There’s always the option of saving your passion as a “side hussle” also. If it really pays off, you can always discard that job as an engineer to paint or write poetry.
Then there’s discerning a passion from something you enjoy… This is one I’ve struggled with for ages and a couple of attempted careers. The simple answer is that a passion is something you’re willing to endure the hardships to pursue. It’s NOT I want to be a rock star because it’s cool and I’ll be famous. I hate you all for not buying my music and making me live over mom’s garage. It’s I’m willing to practice 10 hours a day, play that guitar till my fingers bleed, get singing and playing lessons because I’m only so-so right now, and treat it all as the price to pay and part of the journey. You not just accept but embrace that there are no shortcuts. THEN it’s a passion, and worth pursuing.
And yes, after struggling through alot of self doubt, that’s where I’m at now with my writing.