Trusting Your Passions
Trying to discover your purpose in life – or to find it again after you’ve lost your way – can be challenging. We’re often told to look to our passions, to the things that we most love to do. But it can be hard to trust in those things, especially if they fall outside the narrow window of what’s acceptable in mainstream culture, or if you’re drawn to the creative arts.
How many times were you told, as a child or young adult, that your passions weren’t good enough? Everyone seems to want to comment, often critically, on what young people want to do with their lives, from teachers to parents to neighbors to Great Uncle Joe. They feel like they’re entitled to judge your life’s callings.
As a writer, believe me, I heard my most cherished goal devalued many times. “You can’t make a living as a writer.” “It’s too hard to get a book deal.” “Unless you’re Stephen King or Danielle Steele, forget it.”
For many years, I believed it. I went to college for broadcasting, because it sounded like a more “realistic” career. I worked in public broadcasting, which was a perfectly fine way to earn my living…but it wasn’t my calling. Now I’ve come full circle, and I’ve made writing a priority in my life. Slowly but surely, I’m learning to make a living this way – and I’ve discovered that there are actually many writers who do so.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to make your passion into your career. It does mean that it’s important to make time and space in your life for the things you’re most drawn to.
Why? Think about the reason you have these passions, the ones that continue to arise in your heart, even if you’ve shut them away for years at a time. If it’s something that is so much a part of you that it won’t be denied, there must be a reason for it.
Was it something you brought into this life with you, like my passion for the written word? Is it something that you’re naturally good at, that makes you light up when you do it?
Getting really clear on the reason behind your love for your passions can help you begin to value them more.
How do your passions help you express your unique self in the world? How can they allow you to serve others? How does the joy they bring make you a better person? In what ways do they lift you up and bring you clarity, joy, and purpose?
Answer these questions in your journal, or talk them over with a trusted friend. Once you’ve figured out what’s behind your most cherished dreams, that clarity can serve you as you begin to fulfill your purpose.
And really, your purpose doesn’t have to be complex.
“The real reason you chose to be here – your purpose and mission in life – was to simply be who you are now. Good reason.” – Mike Dooley
When you hear those critical voices in your head saying that your passion is silly, or ridiculous, or not worth pursuing, you’ll recognize that they’re just ghosts from the past. Trust your passions and savor the positive feelings they bring you. You’ll realize that you were given your passions in life for a reason, and that reason is tied in with your greater purpose for being here, and being you.
You’ll understand that just by being yourself, you are already contributing to the world in a meaningful way. Never mind what Great Uncle Joe thinks.