What’s the key to long-term happiness and success? “Just follow your passion!” We’ve all heard that, right? But what does it even mean? If you’re like most 20-somethings, this vague cliché causes more anxiety than encouragement, especially if you don’t have a clue how to take that first step in following your passion. Or – and this can feel even scarier – what happens if you don’t even know what you’re passionate about to start with? What if you want a career and a life that makes you feel fulfilled, but you just don’t know what that is yet?
Some of you may already have a clear idea of exactly what you want to do with your life. Maybe you have a detailed picture of how you want your life to unfold, and you’re taking conscious steps toward it. If so, you’re in the lucky minority! However, if you’re like the majority of 20-somethings, you’re still struggling to uncover what you’re truly passionate about.
In her book 20 Something Manifesto, Christine Hassler compares finding your life direction to eating at the Cheesecake Factory. With 167 menu options to choose from, (not including drinks, sides, and, of course, cheesecake flavors), the Cheesecake Factory’s menu can induce mild panic, even to the most decisive of us. Hassler describes her reaction the first time she perused this menu: “How was I supposed to pick just one dish? What was the best thing? As everyone else around me ordered, I became even more anxious – should I get what someone else was having? Would it be better than what I thought I wanted?” You may feel this way when trying to uncover your passions or ideal career path. There are so many options available, the idea of choosing just one is daunting!
Some of us will decide that the best way to solve the mystery of our missing passion is to try out various new activities or jobs to see which one sticks. There’s an undercurrent of romance and excitement in the belief that one day you can try something completely new and have an epiphany: This is it! This is what I’m meant to do with my life! But Jonathan Acuff challenges this concept in his book, Quitter.
Acuff believes that finding your passion “is more than a revelation or an act of discovery. I believe it’s a process of recovery. More often than not, finding out what you love doing most is about recovering an old love or an inescapable truth that has been silenced for years, even decades. When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter. It’s usually a reunion.”
So how can you reunite with your passions? What were your favorite activities as a kid? What have you always felt drawn to or excited about?
Kristen & Rachel