All throughout my life I have heard people refer to this elusive ~passion~. People find their passion at 23 or 52 and know right away, this is it, this is the thing I’m meant to do. This is almost as elusive as the ever-mysterious romantic “one” we’re supposed to find and marry right away. Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the question: What is passion?
Passion can be defined as “Intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction” per Merriam Webster. Alternatively, it can be cited as “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” Our good pals at Urban Dictionary define passion as “when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind body and soul into something as is possible.” (Both very reputable sources, I know).
Could this be it?? Is this my thing??
I feel like I’ve found a lot of things over the years that I enjoy greatly or that I hold a strong fondness for. Would I say I’ve found my passion? I have absolutely no idea. The idea of finding this one thing that will be all encompassing and drive me every day is a bit overwhelming. I mean, now I’m out here questioning every single thing I enjoy, which takes the fun away!
It’s a lot of pressure to put on ourselves to try to find this passion. We are expected to decide by age 20 what career path we want to follow and what difference we want to make in the world. How do you expect someone who has barely even lived to figure this out? Then we hear these horror stories about people who earn a difficult degree just to spend their life working a job they despise. Occasionally, of course, we get the happy stories, too. Of the woman who decided in her 40s to completely uproot her life and change her plans to align with her newly discovered passions. Congrats, ma’am.
I was getting pretty curious about what others think of passion and exploration, so I interviewed six therapists to see what they think! Therapists see clients daily who are seeking something from their life- whether it be meaning, passion, love, or something else entirely. Therefore, they are no stranger to handling questions about self discovery on the reg.
Read Also: Therapist Tips to Stop Overthinking
So… What do therapists think?
Lucky for you, I asked a handful of therapists how they would define passion, and how they would recommend their clients find theirs (aka me and mine). I also asked if they feel that they have found their passion! Here are their thoughts:
“I think having passion for something means you feel physically and mentally invigorated when you do it. You’re so completely invested in whatever it is that you can stand being away from it. You do what you can to make sure whatever you are passionate about is taken care of to the best of you ability. I think people can find theirs by trying new things or revisiting things that made them feel “alive” before. Sometimes you do something like make a new recipe or try a new yoga pose and you get that rush of satisfaction with yourself and what you created.”– T. T., California. Has found little passions and passion projects.
“I think I define passion by something that you put your whole self into. Energy, efforts, thoughts, feelings everything. And I think it depends on each person. Some people just know what their passionate about and for others it can take a lifetime of experimentation with different things but I think you can find it by looking at the intersections of your talents and your interests. But of course there’s a lot of other considerations like ability to actually do what your passionate about and utility or functionality, like what purpose can it serve either for you others.”A.W., Connecticut. Has not fully found passion.
“I would say that spark that makes you wake up every morning to do what you do, and the motivation that drives your day to day activity. Perseverance, lots of trial and error and most importantly introspection will find it. Self discovery is a process and completely normally. Self discovery leads to passion.“M.B., Florida. Has “absolutely” found passion.
I feel like passion is a feeling that combines excitement and curiosity, and even if you know a decent amount about something you’re still enthusiastic about learning more or continuing to practice it. I would say you find it through personal experiences, talking to other people about what they’re passionate about, and just exploring new topics and reading about new things and seeing what interests you and how you might be able to pursue it in your own life.“P.B., New York. Has found passion.
Good question. Maybe a drive for something. Like you want to be completely immersed in something and when you are it makes you feel whole. And you want to keep learning more about it and you’re willing to work hard and go through challenges if it means that you get to do the thing you’re passionate about.”M.S., Illinois. Has a bunch of passions.
When you love to do something and you always want to get better at it. And usually it has personal emotional meaning for you. You can find it by doing “scary” things. Trying scary things has helped me find the things I love the most.”K.M., Massachusetts. Has found many passions.
It appears that there is a general consensus about what passion is, or at least what it can be. However, it also appears that finding passion isn’t as simple as a game of Where’s Waldo. There is no right answer to where to find your passion. It takes a lot of trial and error, triumphs and defeat to find what sparks that joy within. You may have one passion for a while and move on to a new passion later down the road. Or maybe you have a handful of mini passions at once. Passion is not simply one thing that will consume you until the end of time. It can be one giant passion plus a combination of passion projects that add up to one wholesome, passion-filled life. Embrace life’s offerings and find your passion organically.
All I know is, once you find that spark, try with all your might to keep it close throughout life. Do what you can to incorporate it into your routines and let nothing hold you back. Allow yourself to discover your joy and use the fulfillment to project warmth and passion into everything around you.