A sampling of a list Millennial keywords includes:
Let’s talk about this last one. Passion - it’s everywhere. I can’t read a Millennial self-help article, listen to a podcast, or scroll through Instagram without hearing that word. The dictionary defines it as “a strong and barely controllable emotion.” Wikipedia expands on it saying: “Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for someone or something. Passion can range from eager interest in or admiration for an idea, proposal, or cause; to enthusiastic enjoyment of an interest or activity; to strong attraction, excitement, or emotion towards a person.”
Here is my question: Is passion the new happiness? There are endless books, articles, and thought pieces about happiness. Is it a state of mind? A journey? An emotion? And once you declare what happiness is, how do you achieve it? Is it a seven step process, or is it a spiritual awakening? Or even further, is there pre-work you have to do before you can even start on the process of finding (attaining? seeking? developing?) happiness.
From my perspective, passion lives in the same way. Is passion inherent? Is it developed? Do you find it, or does it find you? Do you have multiple passions? One passion? Can passions change over time, or are they lifelong? Does everyone have a passion, or even have the possibility to have a passion?
Passion is this weird enigma that I can’t quite figure out, and the internet has plenty of thoughts about it. And lately, I’ve been struggling with passion. I don’t feel the same way on happiness because I’ve built and tailored my view on happiness - how I define it and see it in the world, and how it fits into my life.
On the other hand, passion is a big, fat, question mark. I’m slowly weaving through it’s intricacies to determine what passion means for me. I can consume internet thought pieces, books, podcasts, whatever on the topic as much as I want to, but ultimately I need to develop my own perspective on it. With my own perspective, I’ll then tell myself stories about passion in my life, and then what I read or see will challenge or reinforce my own view, instead of simply pressing upon it.
Passion has come to the forefront of my life as I continue my career exploration and growth. Sometimes I wonder if you need to be passionate about your work to derive full meaning and value from it, but then I’ll read pieces saying you shouldn’t (there’s that ‘should’ word I despise - imposing on me telling me to do something for the external rather than the internal) pursue passion in your career. This is because interests change, most of us don’t have true passion as it’s defined, and passion builds over time. The classic example that keeps popping up in my reading is that Steve Jobs wanted to be a Buddhist monk in college, but ultimately ignored his ‘passion’ and ended up in technology.
I often feel conflicted in that it’s hard a lot of the time to engage in work that isn’t intrinsically motivating or satisfying, but feeling lost without having true passion to go off of for a new direction. And what one of the articles on passion I read pointed out is that most of us have hobby-related passions: writing, cooking, skiing, etc. Realistically, though, that doesn’t mean we should all write a book, become a chef, or run a ski shop. When I think about what is as close to true passion as I can think of, it comes back to ‘hobbies’ for me. Note: Passion is not to be confused with purpose here, which is more along the lines of helping others, providing value to the world, etc. Consequently, I question whether or not I have true passion that aligns with a career move. And logically, this makes sense given my very limited work experience and that I’m young and naive when it comes to this stuff.
I’m curious though to see if there are twenty-somethings out there who feel a strong pull to a certain passion.
The other day at work, I was in a conversation with a high level person in my organization who asked about why working on X would by different from Y for me. And funny enough, my answer ended up relating back to passion. My response was one full of candor, saying that I don’t feel that I have a distinct passion yet - and it’s too soon to tell given my entry level status in the workplace. My passion is something I’ll find over time, and will evolve as I do. Having to articulate the answer to the question sort of helped me figure out what I think of passion; how to package it up in a nice little box on the shelf of emotions and thoughts.
However, there is still more for me to figure out when it comes to passion. Later that same day, I was catching up with a friend from work who was discussing what’s next for her after this job. She brought up pragmatic things, such as moving to industry or going to get an MBA, but also swayed to the whimsical, noting her love of photography. Yet only a few minutes later, she mentioned that she hasn’t done photography work in three years since her job is all-consuming. This conversation reminded me yet again of the idea of hobby-passion, even when we have no time for our hobbies. I’m guilty of it too, where I say I love art but haven’t painted in almost a year (!). So how do you remedy? Does your passion have to be active or can it be passive too?
I’ve posed a lot of questions but have provided so few little answers, but ultimately I think each individual has to answer these in a manner right for him or her. My definition of passion is still evolving as I mature, and I think as I grow in the workplace and in my personal interests my mental schema of passion will solidify.