Updated: Apr 10, 2020
That’s right I said it - do not follow your passion. Do not even try to find your passion. In fact, forget passion altogether. Instead you should follow something much more fun, much more interesting - follow your curiosity.
Passion is a funny word. It’s a word that has been used to describe intense love and sexual desire yet also your purpose and sole reason for being on this earth. Society and pop culture are obsessed with the idea of finding and following your passion. Pretty much every Disney movie and Netflix show is centered around the idea of finding and following your passion. Almost every fiction book follows a main character trying to find their one sole purpose in this world and every song from rap to pop is in one way or another about passion and purpose. I mean just look at these quotes from successful and famous people about passion.
"Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” —Jon Bon Jovi
Really nothing is as important as passion? That’s a bit intense.
“Passion is the genesis of genius.” —Tony Robbins
I don’t know about you but passion has led me to do some pretty stupid things. Think about your first passion filled crush you had in highschool - now how did that turn out?
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” —Steve Jobs
That’s easy for Steve Jobs to say but not everyone is born with a burning passion to create the world’s greatest phone.
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” —Vincent Van Gogh
Wow that escalated quickly. Van Gogh is dramatic AF. Why does passion require you to die for it? No thanks...
“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” —E. M. Forster
I beg to differ. Really, one person with obsessive love for one thing is better than 40 people who are interested in it? I would trust someone who is interested over someone who is passionate any day. Why? Because passion is blinding. It can be a dangerous and misleading emotion that can encourage you to do really stupid things for the person or thing you love. Interests, on the other hand, are simple little sparks of curiosity that encourage you to try something new without having to give everything else up.
Society has made us believe in this notion that we are all born with one sole purpose in this world and that we each need to have a passion so strong for one thing that we will stop at nothing to achieve that passion. But what if you don’t have a passion? What if there’s not one singular thing that you are so excited about that you would drop everything else for? We are told that if we don’t have a passion that we need to find it. To search the corners of the world and deep within ourselves to find that passion. That also implies that if we don’t have a passion, we must not be ambitious or driven and something is wrong with us. I don’t know about you but I realized early on that I don’t have a passion for just one thing. This used to worry me and give me anxiety, but now I believe it’s actually to my advantage. Why? Well first of all let’s breakdown what passion really is.
What is this passion that everyone is obsessed with? By definition, passion is a “strong and uncontrollable emotion”. Passion is a “willingness to suffer for what you love” and I personally don’t want any “suffering” associated with what I do. Let’s also take a moment to imagine passion as an actual person in your life. If you were to personify passion, passion would be a toxic and controlling boyfriend or girlfriend. They would be demanding and jealous. They would be extremely selfish and want all of your attention and they would want it now. Passion would ask a lot of you. To be with passion, you must drop everything else, forget about every other interest you have and be solely focused on them and them only. Passion will ask you to sell everything you own, move across the country, drop your old friends, forget about your hobbies, and the other things in life that make you happy to satisfy their needs. Passion requires you to be all in, to give 100% and nothing less.
Phew I’m exhausted just thinking about it! I’d rather do something much more simple, something much more lighthearted and fun, and that is to follow my curiosity.
Following your curiosity is a breath of fresh air compared to following your passion. Following your curiosity is a lot easier and a lot less demanding. If we were to personify curiosity, it would be the most healthy and fulfilling relationship you’ve ever been in. They would be supportive and encouraging in whatever you wanted to do or try. They would not make you feel bad if you weren’t always obsessed with them. They would understand that emotions are fleeting and that you won’t always be head over heels in love with them and that sometimes you might be downright mad or annoyed with them. They would be that super fun and spontaneous partner that takes you on super fun dates and says “hey let's try this tomorrow”, “let's go here tomorrow”, “check this out” - always leading you down a new path of adventure and encouraging you to try new things. While passion would ask you to sell your house and go bankrupt to be with them, curiosity only asks you to turn your head slightly to consider a new adventure with them.
We are told from a very young age that we need to find our passion and our one true purpose in life and follow it. I don’t know about you but I don’t have just one passion and I have never had just one passion. Rather, I have many interests in many different fields and I don’t believe that I need to choose just one for the rest of my life. I used to think this was my demise and that I would never be successful because of it. But now I know that this is actually an advantage as I am not chained to this idea of following my one true passion, but rather free to follow what my heart and soul are curious about at any given moment. In fact, following my curiosity actually led me to where I am today: a digital nomad living a free and spontaneous life in Bali making more money than I ever had with a full time job (and more importantly) way happier than I’ve ever been. I was told many times throughout college that I needed to focus on one thing and get good at that one thing. I was told that being a jack of all trades wouldn’t lead me anywhere. Well, look at me now. I said f*ck you to passion, followed my interests and now I have my own marketing agency, I started my own mindfulness business, I’m a YouTuber and content creator, I’m a model and I get to travel the world and try new things without fear of failure. In fact the business I started, the Dreamers and Doers Club, is a combination of all of my interests in one: mindfulness, spirituality, and productivity!
Elizabeth Gilbert, famous author of Eat Pray Love, has an amazing analogy for curiosity seekers versus passion followers. (Also let me add that this entire article is inspired by her interview with Oprah on Oprah’s podcast Super Soul Sunday). Gilbert describes passion followers as jackhammer people: hyper focused on one thing, intense and loud. Curiosity seekers on the other hand are like hummingbirds that move from “tree to tree, flower to flower, and place to place, trying this and trying that”. Hummingbird people create incredibly rich and beautiful lives for themselves all while cross pollinating the world and everyone they meet with new ideas and fresh perspectives. Hummingbird people have the flexibility and freedom to follow the smell of a flower, try it out for a bit, realize it isn't for them and move on to the next thing - and they didn’t have to sacrifice everything to follow that small calling.
Now, despite everything I’ve said, I am not completely hating on passion followers. If you were born with a burning fiery passion for something by all means follow it! That is how you were made and please use the gifts the universe gave you! All I’m saying is that if you weren’t born with one true calling and feel like you don’t have a specific passion, that is okay. In fact that is to your advantage. If you are willing to release yourself from the pressure of finding and following your passion and instead follow the trail of your interests and curiosities, one day you might wake up and realize you are right where you are supposed to be. You will realize that following the clues of your interests and curiosity actually led you to what you were called to do all along.
So I urge you to not follow your passion, instead, follow your curiosity and your curiosity might even just lead you to your passion.
Founder of the Dreamers and Doers Club