When Passion is a Requirement

Have you ever had the impression that people would like you to be more passionate about things than you can realistically be?

For many of us, it may seem like this, and all the more so we consider the media an important point of contact with the world. Morning shows, ads, life-style blogs, ads again, job offers, and for the final time, ads – all of them promote the images of passionate, energetic people who go about their daily activities with a smile running all the way around their heads.

…Or throw books around themselves in a frenzy. Photo by Lacie Slezak

But it’s a silly approach where you show excitement as the only acceptable state to be in, tell your readers to boost their energy like it’s the only thing they can possibly need, or require a steadily exorbitant level of passion from job candidates.

It probably won’t be a surprise to you if I say that being in low spirits from time to time is only natural, that low-energy people can be happy in their lives just as well, and that a lack of passion doesn’t entail being no good at what you do in life.

The fact is that those periodically miserable, low-energy, unenthusiastic people can be just as good as friends, partners, parents, teachers, construction workers, artists, dentists and whatnot.

We are the way we are, and that’s okay.

Still… there’s always this shade of doubt when we think about ourselves, isn’t there? Whatever we do, it just doesn’t seem good enough when we compare it to the enterprises of the ideal, passionate people we’ve been trained to look up to.

Let me tell you a secret: I’ve struggled with my self-image as a writer for many years. Me writing + other people reading it + us together talking about me writing? No, that just doesn’t compute.

Why? Because I’m not passionate about writing, and how am I supposed to tell people that?

Let’s give it a try: I haven’t felt all my life that I should write. Holding a book with my name on it is not my biggest dream. I don’t wreck my sleep to write. My life is not defined by the stories I’ve written. Sometimes when I want something written, I force myself to write it because I have no enthusiasm for it. In fact, I suppose I’d be just fine without writing.

Photo by Green Chameleon

It’s just that I like to write, and some people like my writing. But when I think that, panic enters the stage because it sounds so terribly insufficient that I want to withdraw all the signals I’ve ever sent to the world outside that yes, I want to be a writer. Because if I’m not passionate about it, I’m not a real writer, no?

This doubt has its effects on the work itself. As with writing, so with other hobbies and endeavours. Every so often, one gets discouraged by adverse circumstances. Or one lose interest in what one does, and may even forget about it for long stretches of time. Very often, one’s lack of passion translates into a lack of motive to develop your skills.

If you add this self-doubt to the fact the world favours passionate people, it’s easy to call oneself a good-for-nothing, lie down and be sorry for oneself.

But don’t do this just yet! Because I’ve some important things to tell you. Here they are:

I. You are fine the way you are. You don’t have to be passionate about something to “count as a valuable person”.

II. You can be good at things even if you’re not helped along by passion. Without it, it may just be slightly more difficult in certain respects.

III. After you’ve admitted that you don’t feel passionate about things, it’s time for you – not for anyone else who may see your lack of passion as a shortcoming – to decide what to do with your time, skills, and energy.

But I can’t help you with that last one. Too busy writing.


The Doubtful Art of Self-Doubt

Or what I write when I think I can’t write:


Sometimes I get overwhelmed
by such doubt

Perhaps it’s for the better that
I’m not a ballet dancer

Striving for others
to like my dance
would be the death of me

As it is, I can dance for myself
often, in the dark

Hasty Thoughts

Caught in a small loop of time
with people around to reach out for
I think hasty thoughts that hurt me
my black fingernails scratch

But after a moment it becomes plain:
I should ask

Could you give me,
could you give me,
could you give me some time of yours?

I admit: I wrote this on a bus. Going to work; from work to a lecture; then home to try and do something to make my thesis exist. That’s what my days look like lately, and that’s the reason why I’ve been posting rarely these last few months.

I’m busy, and I wish the week was at least one day longer!

In this little poem — it’s not even a poem! — I wanted to compress my recent thoughts about haste. Because haste has become an important part of my life, and it has been getting on my nerves on and off in the past few months. And the day before I wrote it I reflected that when I’m in a hurry, I revert to my (bad) old thinking habits like they’re the default setting.

And I lapse into doubt and think of how they’re gonna say good bye to me after my trial period, how I’ll do something and disappoint someone I care for, or how I’ll fail a class at the uni.

Then I start feeling all discouraged from trying to keep, nourish, and enjoy the awesome things that I have in life, and pessimistic about their future at my side.

An example of it: a few days ago I was thinking of quitting my job just because I didn’t pass an on-line course in the basics of LTE technology in one try. It didn’t make any sense because the course was difficult, and I could give it as many tries as I needed.

But it seems like spontaneous self-harm comes in whenever I don’t watch myself. So I worried, and put myself down, and worried some more, although I don’t actually want to hurt myself.

It’s the haste… perhaps with a dash of perfectionism, too.

It was good to figure that out.

It was also good that that day I came across a post published by my friend katerzyna, where she wrote about patience. It was just just what I needed to hear: All we need is… just a little patience.

Breathe deeply in and out, even if you live in a smoggy city like I do. Be patient. It’s true that all kinds of things may happen, but constant worry probably won’t prevent the bad ones, or speed up the good ones.

Another good conclusion I reached that day was that when we’re in haste and/or trouble, it’s really worth reaching out to other people for support.

In my case, this means asking for hugs, bothering people with questions, or making the poor devils listen when I want to tell a story e.g. about a rude woman on the bus.

And this is actually what I’m going to do now: promise you a story. Not the one about the rude lady on the bus — this one isn’t worth a blog post. Another one. Wait. Patiently. Till tomorrow.