What if you don’t know what it is? What if you feel like you are standing off to the side, not completely in the dark, but definitely in the shadows and your confusion is what is keeping your feet rooted in one place? What now? All the inspirational quotes in the world won’t give you the direction you need to take, or fan to life the fire within you that you so desperately need to live your life on purpose.
There is nothing more tragic, in my mind, than asking someone what it is they are passionate about, and you get an uncomfortable pause in return. “I, well, I, I like to hang out with my friends and stuff.”
Martin Luther said “…if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” While that may be a bit extreme, I agree with the principle of what he was saying: you need to care.
You Need To Care
Life needs passion. You need to care about the things in your life so much that it feels as if there is a fire starting at your toes and it is slowly torching you from the inside out. You should care so much that you feel as if you will surely combust if you don’t either act on your passion or share it with someone else.
Some people seem to be born knowing what is important to them, what it is that makes them tick. For others, it takes some time. It’s ok if you don’t know now, but don’t ever give up looking or searching for what it is that will give you that light in your eyes.
Start Looking Everywhere
Don’t be afraid. Look everywhere and be interested in everything. Once you learn to live with passion about something, it will transfer to the rest of your life. Let the little, mundane activities of your everyday life take on inordinate meaning to you. Care about what it is you are making for dinner…perhaps you’ll find that you’re in love with baking. Care about the music you listen to, listen and dissect the words…maybe you’re a poet with an untold story inside you.
Gently disengage yourself from the people you hang out with that don’t really seem to have a purpose in life, that don’t seem to care about much. Apathy towards life is like poison….it slowly spreads and infects you quietly. Seek out people whose zest for something in life inspires and shames you into trying harder, bigger, better things.
“It” is out there, that thing that will make your heart skip a beat, that will keep you up at night thinking about it….”it” is out there waiting for you to run smack dab straight into it and holler at the top of your voice, “For heaven's sakes, I have been looking for YOU!!” Don’t despair, and don’t give up. Jump right into everything you can possibly think of with both sleeves rolled up and a smile on your face.
Don’t Constrain Yourself
Don’t allow your surroundings to dictate what you love. Certain cultures have an unspoken rule that their members are one-dimensional: that they only care about the thing that their culture is centered around. Bikers are not expected by other bikers to attend symphonies and to care deeply about music theory. Cowboys are not expected by other cowboys to care deeply about high fashion. Climbers are not expected by other climbers to care about the ins and out of the stock market. The list could go on and on. Cultural norms can constrain you if you let them…don’t allow yourself to be put in a box!
At first when you’re trying something new and different than what everyone around you is doing, it can feel like you’ve been put on center stage and you don’t know the dance you’re expected to perform. Never mind them. Continue on down your path and dance the steps you’re heart knows. It may be buried a bit and you may have to dig a little, but it’s there.
I heard about a girl growing up, who was born into a very traditional cowboy family. She enjoyed working on the ranch with her family, but her real passion was in costume design. I always thought that it must have felt a bit strange for her at first: the norm for her, considering the family she was born in to, would have been to be obsessed with starting colts and competing at rodeos. Instead, she listened to the call of her heart and followed her passion, which had nothing to do with cowboying, ranching or horses. Brave girl. And infinitely more satisfying in the long run to be true to what you care about, than what you’re supposed to care about.
Alternatively, there is a man I know who was born into a family whose middle name is “Corporate Business World.” He was groomed, readied and prepared his entire life to be a businessman. His passion? Cowboying. I’m sure his family shook their head at him in confusion, but what made his blood race with excitement was chasing slicks through the brush and starting colts. He didn’t let what he was supposed to care about dictate what he truly loved, and neither should you.
Get out of your comfort zone. Explore. Ask questions. Find your passion. Pass that fire on.
xo xo Liz