Is Passion Worth It?

“Friend, there will probably never be a right time. Conditions will always be difficult. Obstacles will always be in your way, which you must overcome. It will always be a challenge, if you decide to launch out into the deep and mysterious destiny to which you feel called, by the dreams of your soul.” — Richard Nelson Bolles

About two years ago, I launched myself into the journey of finding that “deep and mysterious destiny” to which I feel called. I resigned from a full-time job without any back-up plan. I went home not really knowing anything much other than the fact that I didn’t want to stay a moment longer at where I was.

 …

Now, roughly two years later, where am I, really? Have I found for myself that purpose which I sought, and am I finding the risk I took worth it?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is probably.

“Escape from a false sense of life-purpose is only liberating if it leads to a true one.” — Os Guinness, The Call

To me, there are only three kinds of workers/career people in the world: (1) those who are passionate with and genuinely happy doing what they do for a living, (2) those who are generally “okay” with what they do, and (3) those who are either absolutely repulsed or supremely bored by their work but keep at it anyway because they “have to.” It was during that fateful time roughly two years ago, when I was feeling as lost as anybody could ever feel, that I decided this for myself: I want to spend my life being one of the first kind, a person whose career will embody the highest expression of her true talents and potentials, serve as a means for her to make life a little better for others, and ultimately be the legacy she leaves on this earth.

“The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) the world most needs to have done…The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” — Frederick Buechner

Somebody further along the journey of life must certainly be gently saying right now: “Honey, that’s well and good. But you’re young, and idealistic. The romantic ideas you have about how careers and the work life should be will soon be crushed by life’s realities. One day, you too will find that you have to be in a job and work 8-5 at something that was totally not in your list of things-I-want-to-be-doing-when-I-grow-up.”

I truly understand where this sentiment is coming from. Not everyone gets to live their dreams and spend their work hours doing something they’re truly passionate about. “That’s why it’s called work,” many would say. It’s not meant to be enjoyable or something you’d feel excited waking up to every morning. It’s meant to put food on the table, send your kids to school, and if you’re lucky, give you the means to enjoy some other leisure activity during your days off or vacation leave. Only the geniuses, the prodigies, the talented, the gifted, and the privileged ones ever get to spend their lives doing what they love doing, because the world is willing to pay them for their genius. The rest of us are meant to plow away at some other less-desirable-but-pays-the-rent job.

“[She] often wondered what else she waited for, besides the beginning and end of the school week, and the beginning and end of the holidays. This was a whole life! Sometimes she had periods of tight horror, when it seemed to her that her life would pass away, and be gone, without having been more than this. But she never really accepted it. Her spirit was active, her life like a shoot that is growing steadily, but which has not yet come above ground.” — D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love

I know that the kind of work life I aim for is very idealistic. I’m not looking to spend my life at an “okay” job, or something I just “tolerate.” I’ve seen what passion at work looks like, how those who have it have this fire in them that just ignites every time they put their nose down in their work. These are people whom you may say are genuinely “in their element,” dedicating their whole being to their craft like nothing else in the world ever existed. The passion they have for what they do and the heart they put in every task they tackle is so awe-inspiring, and a refreshing contrast to the rest of the world who wake up every day and drag themselves to work like it was a necessary evil. It’s really a marvel to see, that magic, that spark. These people know who they are, what they came in this world to do, and what their purpose in life is. And I have decided, I want that kind of life.

“Every keen observer of human nature will know what I mean when I say that those who have found some sense of Mission have a very special joy, ‘which no one can take from them.’ It is wonderful to feel that beyond eating, sleeping, working, having pleasure and it may be marrying, having children, and growing older, you were set here on Earth for some special purpose, and that you can gain some idea of what that purpose is.” — Richard Nelson Bolles

I understand that I will not get to have that kind of career right away. There is a process to it, which I am willing to respect. In the interim period, it is likely that I will have to work at a few other jobs that aren’t the exact fit to what I ultimately want to be doing for the rest of my life. But I’m willing to do those jobs, for so long as they do not divert me from the path I’m trying to pursue, which is that of my passions. Better still, if those in-between jobs strengthen my skills and qualifications for the dream job I am looking to have later on.

Currently, I am halfway through my Masters in Psychology, and occasionally taking writing assignments as a freelance ghostwriter. As much as I would like to get a full-time job to help with the school fees (graduate school is expensive! huhu), this summer term I cannot yet because our schedule is crammed. I plan to get a job that would allow me to start in June or beyond, although I am not certain that I could even get hired, given my non-linear educational and work background: a Registered Nurse (RN) currently in the middle of the road towards becoming a Registered Psychologist (RP). See, I am no longer a practicing nurse, but I am not yet qualified to carry out the duties of a full-fledged psychologist. I’d be darn lucky if I get the opportunity to work at the field of psychology before I get my RP license.

It is times when I recognize how I’m still at square one (and oh, how broke I am T.T), that I go back to question if passion is really worth pursuing in this life. While I’m back to being a student with no real job, many of my peers have already gone abroad and worked as nurses, now with at least 2 years of work experience at their backs. What’s worth noting is that I knew I’d be having this kind of gripes when I chose to change my career path two years ago. Still, I question: Have I really made the right choice trying to pursue my passion? Or was I too idealistic when the better choice would’ve been to be practical?

“We feel that we are not just another grain of sand lying on the beach called humanity, unnumbered and lost in the 5 billion mass, but that God caused us to be born and put here for some unique reason: so that we might contribute to Life here on each something no one else can contribute in quite the same way.”—Richard Nelson Bolles

Notwithstanding all such life’s “realities” inescapably biting me as I tread this path, I know I am nearer the person I want to become now than two years ago. It is in this current path that I have found a vision I want to realize, what I feel naturally inclined to, what fascinates me and leaves me in awe, what awakens my compassion, and what will imbue me with the tools I need to make the changes I want. Though there are moments when I falter and doubt, I can honestly say that if I lay still and consider what I’m really trying to do in my life, I find that I am at peace. This is what I chose. A life pursuing and living my passion. I want to live, not just survive. I want that special joy. I want to be “in my element”. I want that glint in the eye, that inextinguishable fire, that sense of meaning and purpose, in myself. I’d want to someday be able to look at my life and with all my heart say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Work is love made visible. And if you can’t work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of the people who work with joy.”—Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Some would say that pursuing passion is not the be-all of this life, that it should sometimes be subordinated to more important matters, such as the very survival of the family. In this light, passion is versus practicality, and we are required to choose between the two. I respect that choosing practicality is a noble choice; work done as a sacrifice for the good of others merits its own value. I guess I’m just lucky to get to have people in my life who are willing to support me as I try to pursue my passion, and as I try to shoot a life where it doesn’t have to be passion versus practicality, but passion yielding practicality.

confucius quote

I am setting my sights on a place in the world where what I am passionate about, what I am capable of, and what is asked of me all intersect. Where what I want to do is one and the same with what I need to do. These are lofty ideals, yes, but I have decided I will do whatever it takes to find that one place—my niche. As I’ve said once before, should I fail, then at least I can walk away with some of my biggest life questions answered, and with the knowledge that at least I tried to shoot for a happier life where I could live my passions.

“Even if strength fail, boldness at least will deserve praise: in great endeavours even to have had the will is enough.” — Propertius

For me, pursuing passion is a great endeavor.

And it is worth it. ♠

“Stop pursuing what you’ve seen other people do and own what’s yours to do. We need you to take your craft more seriously, to reach out and help those who in need. Because you’ve been given a gift, and that requires you to continue being generous. Yes, we need you to give. To serve and love and do the work that matters. But most of all, we need you to become who you are. I hope you’re ready.” — Jeff Goins

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9 thoughts on “Is Passion Worth It?

  1. Wow this is incredibly powerful. I’m so happy for you that you’re pursuing your true calling. YES it is worth it. I so envy you. I’m in my 40’s and things look really sad from this perspective, viewing a history of work that killed my soul and mostly expecting more of the same going forward. Ugh. People like me keep people like you in business!! 😉 My analyst hears my laments every week. So glad you didn’t wait til your my age. Not that I know how old you are, but assuming you’re quite a bit younger. Great post. Again, I salute you!

    • Hi, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! I really appreciate it. It comforts me to know there are others who believe pursuing passion is worth it, too. I’m only 24, and I regret to say it, but I think it’s partly because I’m just at this age and still quite inexperienced with the “real world” that some have doubted my choice to follow my passion. I too still second-guess my choice, even when I’m now already on this road. But through writing posts like this, and reading comments like yours, I get to remind myself that what I’m fighting for is worth it. 🙂

      • PLEASE, keep your eye on the prize! I wish wish wish I had done that. Missed opportunites are extremely difficult and painful when you’re older, because the older you get, the more debt you accumulate, the harder it is to “throw caution to the wind” and, perhaps even scraping by, apply everything you have to achieving that which is most important. I’m going to keep checking on you through your blog to make sure you’re on track!! lol I have to know SOMEONE is doing this, even if it’s not myself. Cheers to you!

        • Thank you, once again. I wish you happiness and hope that you get to fulfill your calling as well, if not by your line of work, then by other avenues in your life. As they say, there are many trails up a mountain. It’s not too late. 🙂

          P.S. I’m granting you full authority to make sure I keep on track. Remind me, warn me, scold me, slap me back to believing this is possible if I give up. Haha! 😉

  2. I love that you are pursuing your passion! Speaking from experience as an old(er) lady, I’ve never let the dream go. I’m fortunate to have worked in jobs that enjoyed (hospital dietitian 10 years and now disease management consultant 12 years), but I’m still pursuing the life I’m passionate about. Raising my kids, loving my husband and someday….getting published! How fortunate I am that I can stay gainfully employed (and keep food on the table) with a decent job all while pursuing what I really want in the wee hours.
    I wish you much luck, love and passion!

    • Yes, you are very fortunate indeed, Michelle! You have a clear idea of the kind of life you want, and you’ve done your best pursuing and living it every day. It doesn’t get better than that!

      As for me, I think I’ve only just begun on the part where I’m defining the kind of life I want, figuring out how to lay the foundation bricks, and keeping the faith that I am trying to break ground in the right place. I could really use the sharing of insights and guidance from people like you who’ve “been there and done that”, which is why I greatly appreciate you dropping by from time to time and sharing your thoughts on this. Thank you, Michelle! 🙂

      • Just know that you are already way ahead of where I was in my twenties. The fact that you are self-aware positive and pursuing a passion is the first step needed. I’m so blessed to be witnessing your journey first hand 🙂

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