Much is made, in public forums, of the importance of what author Joseph Campbell called “following your bliss”. The implication being that not only do you have to have a passion, but you organise your life so that every waking moment is devoted to the pursuit of that passion and your sleeping moments are filled with dreams and possibilities of it too.
It’s enough to make a girl feel decidedly lacking if she’s not yet discovered her grand passion. Or worse, decidedly neglectful, if she’s been told what it is by others but has chosen not to dedicate herself to their determination of it.
And such is the conundrum facing the Ripenist who has asked for some thoughts on her dilemma: while there are many things she’s very, very interested in, she’s not sure that any of them are ‘the one’. The one thing she would rather be occupied with ahead of all her other interests. That all-consuming passion…
This Ripenist enjoys a variety of activities, including her current paid work, but has a sense that there should be more. That there’s something wrong with her because she hasn’t yet landed upon her grand passion. She thought, in her 30’s, that she still had lots of time for exploration but woke up one day at 48 saying “Life is racing by! What is the thing that I am compelled to do and think about with every fibre of my being? What is it? What’s my passion?”
Hence her sense of something being missing, some potential unfulfilled, a contribution to the world not yet made. When in fact, she uses her skills, experience and talents for the betterment of many. In pointing this out to her, she replied “Yes, I know, but still….”
She feels a need to nail something down. To be able to answer the ‘What are you passionate about?’ question with “This, THIS is my thing”. Interestingly, when asked about the driver(s) behind the search for her grand passion, she said two things: “I’m getting tired of doing so much and wonder if life would be simpler if I just had one thing to focus on” followed by “I don’t want to miss out on something that could make my life even better than it currently is (i.e. FOMO)”.
A conundrum indeed. Anne’s response to the first point is that she may simply need a rest. Reading Are you feeling the need to step off? may help. To the second, I wonder: when there’s so much of everything available to many of us, is it realistic to expect to have only one passion for your whole life?
For some people it certainly is. It may be they felt strongly about a cause early in life, perhaps inspired by an impactful experience or a person of influence. It could be something they chose to pursue later on, as opportunities presented or made themselves felt.
It may be more of a vocation, perhaps. I wondered if artists feel this way, so asked the question of two. The first replied that their passion lies in people and all their curious quirks and the second, the landscape. Both artists went on to say that they considered themselves fortunate to be able to express their passion through their medium of choice – canvases for one and ceramics and cast glass, the other. I thought it was an interesting distinction; the art was merely the vehicle by which to express their passion for their subject, not the passion itself.
There is a label given to those with multiple passions and interests – it’s ‘multipotentialite’. Coined by Emilie Wapnick of www.puttylike.com, you can hear her explain why people don’t have one true calling in this TEDx talk.
Just knowing that this label exists could give hope to those of us who rebel against the suggestion that it’s somehow better to have one passion.
Given that the Ripenist in question has lots of interests and pursues them all with similar energy, focus and pertinacity, I wonder if having just one passion would be anathema to her. Perhaps that’s why she hasn’t yet found it; maybe she’s really a multipotentialite, despite her self-induced pressure to be otherwise.
On the other hand, it could be that she just hasn’t found her particular passion YET. And so the search will continue until either she does or she decides to embrace the process of discovery instead – which could, of course, end up being her grand passion!
What words of wisdom do you have for this Ripenist?