I am passionately ambivalent…
Recently I came to realize that I have become much more guarded in my postings to LJ. Reading over some of my earlier entries I found that while I have kept up with my original intent to keep me writing, I have failed at the larger unspoken intent of keeping me THINKING and writing at a higher (and deeper) level. I was more prolific two years back, yet my writing has stagnated and not improved as I had hoped it would. I am a bit disappointed that I haven’t seen any marked improvement within two years of journaling. Perhaps I need to stop, reflect, and deconstruct my feelings a bit more.
In trying to conjure up an intelligent post on the word “passion”, I found out something about myself which disturbed and depressed me: I am afraid of failure, and more to the point, I don’t want to try anything that is difficult to succeed at.
When you are in school, and going through the typical drills about what careers you want to do, etc., there is –always- one question you will be asked: “What are you passionate about?”. This is a question I never had an answer for.
I have never used the word passionate to describe myself in any setting or situation, nor to describe my feelings about anyone or thing. I simply don’t think in terms that equate to the same deep level of feeling as to word “fanaticism” also conveys to me. But I have never forgotten the question. I continually think over it (to some degree) whenever I find myself reflecting on my current job or “place” in life.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I am so negative in my life that there is simply nothing I enjoy doing. Far from it in fact. However, I always felt the word “passion”, and by default the derivative “passionate”, were a bit too strong to describe my feelings towards any part of my life. I never had a driving force in my life that left me with an unyielding desire to do anything. Perhaps my practical side won out when I was a child and realized (incorrectly I may add) that my pursuits were beyond my reach. Maybe I traded passion at that point for a more realistic “minor interest” or “ability”. Rather, what I have discovered while pondering this word is that not only do I lack the passion to make any particular endeavor a career, but that I actively dissuade myself from being passionate about anything due to the typical degree of difficulty involved. Specifically, I stopped pursuing my early childhood dream of becoming a photographer since the realist in me saw how difficult it is to eke out a living in the industry. The same thing could be said for my dreams of playing bass in a band; the realities are that I would never make a living doing that either. As I got older, I became even more practical in my career choices since I took on more and more financial obligations in my personal life, ranging from just being sure Jean and I could survive on our own, to maintaining vehicle and home debt/ownership.
Now, I find myself with a number of “passions” (and in this case I am using the secondary definition as provided by www.m-w.com: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept ):
I still enjoy photography and music, but find I don’t have the drive or desire I once had. My ideas for photographs have all but faded and my musical skills have rusted away without any group of people to create with (bass on its own is a very dull instrument).
I enjoy writing. I always have. High school was my first taste, where I actually published a few bits of really bad adolescent poetry in the school’s literary magazine. I found that writing could keep my interest as a creative type much longer than other pursuits, and I soon found myself in the creative writing program at my university. Of course practicality soon won out and I ended up leaving school in lieu of making a living.
I ride a motorcycle, not only for the economical values, but because I truly enjoy the ride. I dream of a time when I can get on my bike and ride off for days at a time, just to explore roads and places I have not yet seen. This taps into my love of travel at a more base level where I can focus to an extent otherwise out of my reach. Travel journaling seems like a grand idea, but does not seem lucrative enough to sustain me as a profession.
I enjoy wine and whiskies to a larger extent than the general public. I am passionate about good drink (and likewise good food) to a point where I have entertained the notion of becoming a critic. Not having any idea what this ACTUALLY entails, however, has kept this “dream” at an unattainable reach. (How DOES one get paid to write about food and drink?)
So, as I was pondering the nature of passion, and what it means to be passionate about something enough to make it a career, I found that I am continually daunted by any passion which proves itself to be “too difficult” to pursue. That, my friends, is a depressing and sad thing to say. But I have to admit it to you, and to myself. I need to take more risks. I need to try things which are difficult. I need to open myself to the possibility that I may fail, and I need to be okay with that.
One thing I know: I am NOT passionate about technical support, and do not wish to remain in this role for much longer. I am getting antsy and need a change. And while I _AM_ moving towards a full time Support Technical Writer role, it is very slow going and may not give me the change I really need/want. Of course, I say that now, but when it comes down to it, I am afraid of risk and scared to fail at something that may ultimately prove too difficult for me. Fear of failure is a HUGE motivator which keeps me locked into my current job. At least here I know I can handle it.