A few months back, I wrote an article called True Calling. It got amazing feedback, and many people told me it got them inspired. At the same time, I got into conversations with people who felt a bit bad about themselves after they read the piece. They felt lost and pressured that they were not pursuing their life calling.
Those conversations stayed with me. I noticed how finding our passions and following our dreams can sometimes be a burden and nearly impossible!
Let me take you back in time for a bit. Before I applied to college, I wanted to study many things. I loved psychology, but I was also passionate about journalism and jewelry design.
I had a fake newspaper, which contained pieces written by me. I was the editor and the many contributors and the photographer (which meant I glued pictures from real magazines onto my notebook). I was also obsessed with beads and gemstones (and attempted to draw jewelry designs as a kid; it was an epic fail; hey, I was an artist in my heart).
However, I did not know how to do all of those incredible things and I even doubted if I could excel at any of them. At times, I got distressed because I was not sure of what I wanted and was not pursuing all of my interests, but I soothed myself by trusting my “realistic” capabilities.
I could have at any point in time taken journalism courses, jewelry design, or even pursued them as double majors, but I didn’t.
I believed I had to be good at one thing and then I was set for life. Years passed, and I changed careers and pursued various things, until I realized Life Coaching is something that makes my heart and soul jump. As I have mentioned previously, it took me a lot of time to make the decision; I also had encouragement from family and friends until I finally went for it.
Do I feel complete? Is this it? Have I reached enlightenment? 😆
Well, if you know me, in every journey I like to add my salt and pepper of “Layan’s recipe for stress” (you know, the usual–take things too seriously and get upset when things don’t go as I planned). Nonetheless, the answer is NO to all the above questions.
The answer is no for many reasons. I too still do not fully know what I want, and I have various unpursued passions.
This takes me to the major point of this article. The pressure to find and pursue passions is a shared burden and often a component to emotional disturbance.
I don’t know where you are today with aspirations and inspirations, but if you are feeling confused and downhearted, here is a piece of advice by one of the best-selling authors, Elizabeth Gilbert: Follow your curiosity; your curiosity just might lead you to your passion!
“Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder—a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting . . .”
Passion is rare; curiosity is every day.
Curiosity is, therefore, a lot easier to reach at times than full-on passion—and the stakes are lower, easier to manage.
The trick is to just follow small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort; just turn your head an inch and pause for an instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?
For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hint of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.
Keep doing that, and I promise you “The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion.” (E. Gilbert, 2014)
Most importantly, ease the pressure. Even if you feel you are running out of time to find and pursue your purpose, you are not. Remember, it is not the destination… it is the journey!
Here are 2 short clips of Elizabeth Gilbert explaining the path of curiosity.