The Pressure of Passion.

Recently, a lot of people ae coming up to me in either a state of beginning worry or downright panic over the fact that they don’t have ‘It’. What, you might ask?

The passion. For something, anything. That one thing you would do almost all day, every day, with fire in your gut and a big smile on your face. What you get up for in the morning, what you want to dedicate your time and effort to. Basically: Your Master Goal. Your main goal in life. Your life’s purpose.

I’ve had some serious discussions about this with friends who did art school: They told me about the rising problem in this day and age where almost everything is possible, we literally have the ability to be almost anything. But we can’t be everything at once and we start to feel overwhelmed by all the choices. We become very stressed about it all. We feel pressured. We HAVE TO realize our  some form of potential. If we don’t, we consider ourselves failures. Suddenly our every choice becomes an enormous thing and we’re crippled by the huge responsibility.

See, we can’t ‘just get a job’ anymore. We can’t do anything ‘normal’; we have to do something outrageous and amazing: Something that we can dedicate our life too, while making ourselves sound cool.

Add to that the fact that people with passion have never been more visible and celebrated than they are today. You see all these brilliant, driven people who do what they want to do. They do it like they were born for it. Maybe they are. These people are an inspiration, wonderful to look at. But what does that mean for all of those people who don’t know what their passion is? Of don’t even know if they have one to begin with?!

First of all, you passion-pressure and worrying is because you are overcomparing your life to that of others, which is very easy to do on the Internet. You are comparing your life to that of someone you think is succesful or has found their life’s purpose and that makes you feel inadequate and like you’re in a Find My Passion Sudden Death Round.

I am still totally on the Don’t Compare Yourself To Others Boat, but look at it the other way: Just because you see lots of high-profile high-passion people doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of people like you who haven’t figured out their passion (yet) either. It may sometimes seem like you are the only one without a defined purpose, but you’re really not. You’re the majority, not the exception.

But I also want to tell you (and this might blow your mind a little) that it’s okay not to have an all-consuming passion in your life. Gasp. I know, right?

You don’t have to have that one thing that becomes your purpose and your legacy. It’s perfectly fine for instance, to have an okay job and enjoy your hobbies and your friends, without being a failure for not having made any of the things you enjoy your occupation. Not all things you enjoy have to become your profession, you know?

And not all passions are necessary to make your life purpose or make you famous. The women who were born to be great mothers do not all open orphanages, do they? The people who can make anyone feel comfortable with them do not necessarily become therapists or people you can hire to help shy people at parties. Not all men who love soccer become the next Beckham. Not all great cooks become television chefs.

Sometimes really fashionable girls don’t become fashion bloggers or models. Instead they just feel fantastic in their lovely outfits and do a great job in another profession. Sometimes great singers don’t become popstars. Instead they rock out with their friends on SingStar and occasionally serenade their lover. They still love to sing, even though they did not become the next Adele. Instead, they sing while doing other things, that they also love to do.

Your life’s legacy can be great without being tied to one thing or to something outrageous or impressive. Some of the most impressive people I know don’t have one all-overruling passion to pinpoint and they’re very happy. Being happy is a very important objective, remember? If you can raise a couple of kids well, support your family with your job and help your friends and neighbors during the weekend while generally being happy and nice to other people? That sounds like a damn fine legacy to me.

So if you’re worried you haven’t found your passion yet and feel a little lost, you can borrow this one for the time being:

“Live well. Be happy and help others be happy. Enjoy your life, be thankful and do what you do with pride and enthusiasm. If you are destined to dedicate your life to one big thing, you will find it (or it will find you). You can also be destined to dedicate your life to many smaller things and if you can do that well, that is just as beautiful and impressive.”

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  1. Thank you, I really needed to hear this today. I feel so guilty sometimes for pursuing a career goal which does not exactly cover my “passion”. But I always fear I would start hating it if I had to make money with it.

  2. <3 This post made me smile. I totally agree with you. I believe sometimes the beauty of having one big passion is overrated. As you said in your last paragraph, small achievements and small passions also make you one passionate person 🙂

  3. Thank you! I’m struggling with this ‘I need to be important and outstanding and passionate and..and’.
    It’s so exhausting and unnecessary!
    So, from now on… don’t worry be happy!

  4. Hoewel ik niet zo lang geleden heb ontdekt waar mijn passie ligt, raakt dit artikel ook mij. Het is inderdaad zo dat er binnen de maatschappij nu een hoge druk ligt op iedereen om zich te bewijzen. Maar zoals jij zegt, het is belangrijk om gewoon gelukkig te zijn, en jezelf toelaten dat te voelen. Soms maken we het onszelf gewoon te moeilijk. Wat een super goed artikel. Heel veel mensen zullen er wat aan hebben!
    Kleine correctie bij de laatste zin, ik mis er een woord tussen smaller en and. Hihi sorry dat viel me op!

  5. I’m really happy that you posted this. A lot of people nowadays (I think) feel very intimidated with all the hipper successful people that have made tons of money and innovation that others think were made because they had a passion for that. However, a lot of these hiper successful people have just seen opportunities and grabbed them. They did not necessarily have a passion for it. I say this because a few days ago I saw an online article at fast that talked about how Steve jobs (a young hippie) saw an opportunity to make money not necessarily in something that he liked but he then turned out appreciating. Here is the link to the article: Xoxo.

  6. En laten we niet vergeten dat leven mét een passie ook niet altijd het meest ideale is: er zijn ook mensen voor wie die passie een obsessie wordt, en daarmee ook eerder een druk dan een zege. Helaas. Love the article!

  7. Thank you so much for writing this! I have been struggling with this since february, though some peace of mind is sinking in these last couple of months.

  8. Great post! Thank you for shining your special little light on this matter. I myself am often feeling so guilty for ‘not having found my purpose’ in life. Yet deep down I understand that LIFE itself is a purpose on its own. It would just make things easier if I had a calling, if I was particularly good at ONE thing instead of being ok at many things. This post helps me to put things in perspective and be thankful for being ok at many things and be grateful that I get to enjoy them.