I believe that every single one of us has a purpose – a role in this world that we were made to fill. I believe that we are most happy when we are actively filling that role, whatever it may be at the time.
I believe that your passion – the thing, action, topic, person, whatever that gets your heart humming – is the clue God gives each of us as to what our role is. It’s like a primitive roadmap telling us to do what feels good in order to find our way in the world. Do you like that? Getting warmer. Do you love that? Hot, hot, hot!
Unfortunately, I think we come across a lot of roadblocks on that path. Doubts, insecurities and good old fashion fear work hard to keep us from discovering and embracing our passion.
We come up with great reasons not to pursue our passions.
But why? Why would we struggle to avoid something that could make us so happy? Because there is nothing scarier than the unknown.
We might experience bliss by living our passion, but we might not. We know we can survive the existence with which we are already familiar. Our instinct to be happy clashes with our instinct to be safe, and we come up with a bunch of seemingly valid reasons to avoid taking a step in a new direction toward our passion.
Our individual justifications vary and probably depend a lot on our individual fears and insecurities. These are some common reasons not to pursue a passion, and what I do to overcome them.
5 Reasons Not To Pursue Your Passion
1. People will be disappointed.
Whenever I contemplate making a change in my life, I think about all of the expectations I assume people have of me. Some of them are real, some are imagined, and some are expectations that I have no business trying to live up to.
I can’t change my blog because my readers expect a certain type of content.
I can’t quit my job because my boss and co-workers expect me to stay.
I can’t move because my friends are expecting to have me around.
I’m expected to be funny.
I’m expected to be fat.
I’m expected to be rich, poor, smart, stable, stupid, carefree, serious….
On some level, I hate the idea of disappointing people by not living up to their expectations. Verbalizing these perceived expectations, however, really helps me to put things into perspective and make a more conscious decision about what I am and am not willing to do in the name of not disappointing someone else.
2. You will fail, which will make you look stupid.
I am most afraid of the embarrassment of failure. I’m afraid of being wrong and stupid and having the Imaginary Counsel of Them sit around and cluck about how they “told me so”.
I deal with this by putting faces on the counsel members. In most cases, I end up realizing that the chances that someone is sitting around waiting to cast judgment on my life are slim to none. On the off chance that I can identify a would-be judge, I usually find that their opinions really don’t matter.
3. You’ll never succeed if you keep changing your mind.
This is big for me. Huge. I have had multiple careers already, and I’m only 31 years old. I have changed and evolved as a person, and every single time I am terrified of having to come out to the world as a flake.
I think this is the curse of the passionate person. Or maybe the self righteous person. You see, everything I have ever done or believed or professed, I have done or believed or professed with my whole being. I have thrown myself entirely into my endeavors, absolutely certain that this. was. it!
It’s the reason why I’ve been able to succeed at pretty much everything I’ve tried.
That’s what I remind myself of when I’m afraid of taking another step in yet a new direction. I also remind myself of the people I’ve talked to who are older than me who have many, many stories to tell about their lives. I’m always amazed at how much living can be jammed into one lifetime, and it never once occurs to me to think of those people with rich histories as flaky. I am, instead, in awe of their breadth of experience.
I also try to remind myself that this is probably the best answer I have for right now. I strive to embrace the freedom of temporary.
4. You can’t make a living doing that.
I am a huge proponent of figuring out a way to infuse your profession with your passion, mainly because most of us spend the overwhelming majority of our time at work. But the need to tie a passion to a source of income can be extremely limiting when you’re still trying to discern your own “warmer, hotter, colder” clues.
The only way I know how to overcome this is to always take the next step in faith.
I believe I want what I want, whatever that may be, for a reason.
So, I follow my passion as far as it will lead me, hoping that any apparent dead-end will be made clear by the time I get there. Worst case scenario, I get to spend a little more of my free time doing something that makes me happy right now, regardless of how it “turns out” down the road.
5. Pursuing your passion makes you selfish, and being selfish is bad.
A good mother puts her children first. A good wife puts her husband first. A good person puts her faith, community, fellow-man first.
A bad, selfish person spends hours thinking about things like “what would make me happy”. An indulgent brat indulges in her fantasies, making sacrifices that affect others in order to achieve her own dreams.
I think that’s a pretty common belief system for many of us. I know it was mine for a very long time.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what everyone else needs or wants. I learned in marriage counseling last year that I can’t anticipate anyone else’s happiness as well as I can anticipate my own, which makes me best equipped to meet my needs.
And then there’s that whole matter of purpose. I believe that I can best serve the world at large by committing to fulfill my role the best I can. And who am I to turn down the job that was perfectly created just for me?
What are your reasons for not pursuing your passions?