What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Passion

July 24, 2013

Our passions are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe   One of the most common questions I get asked is, “Have you always had a passion for baking?” My response is always “no”. In all honesty, I still don’t have a passion for baking. It’s a gritty truth and I deeply apologize if I’m bursting anyone’s pristine visions of me joyfully baking around my kitchen in an apron all day. If you read career books or listen to career advice or maybe even listen to your parents or mentors you’ll hear one adage again and again and that’s— “Follow your passion.” Well shit. What if you don’t know what your passion even is? Dear god, don’t try saying that though because you’ll get some confused and maybe even disgusted looks in return. How can you possibly not know what your passion is, they’ll wonder. Then the barrage of questions hits-
“What are you good at? What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?”
They’re trying to help you find your passion. I usually feel like screaming, “STOP!” at this point. I started baking when I was about 24. Yes, 24 years old. My prior experience with baking was rolling out Pillsbury sugar cookie dough once a year at Hanukkah time with my mom. We couldn’t even master the frosting making. Instead my mom’s friend Bev made blue icing for us, packed it in a Tupperware, and sent it home with my mom after work on the afternoon of our major baking expedition. But at age 24 I decided I was going to try my hand at baking. I was working full-time as a car dealership cashier and studying psychology part time at SUNY Brockport. I wanted to be a therapist and have my own practice to help young girls who were having a hard time navigating life, just like I had/was. And then I learned that I would need to continue on with school to earn at least a Master’s Degree, if not a Doctorate. School was not my passion. But ringing up car repairs was not my passion either. I thought baking could be my passion. I later learned that baking was not my passion. I thought having my own retail shop could be my passion. I later learned that having my own retail shop was not my passion. So how do you follow your passion when you don’t know what your passion is? You keep trying new things and you discover everything that’s not your passion or no longer your passion—your anti-passion. Then you move away from your anti-passion. Passions may change, passions may wane. And that’s what I wish someone had told me 10, 15, even 20 years ago. Every time I tried something new whether it be acting, dancing, ice skating, golfing, bowling, school, modeling, even business, and I decided that I didn’t enjoy it, that I didn’t have a passion for it, and that I didn’t want to do it anymore, I felt like a failure. I felt that I had failed at finding my passion. That I had given up at just one more thing. I wish someone had told me back then that I had actually succeeded, not failed. I succeeded at finding another anti-passion. I succeeded at trying something new and ruling it out. I actually succeeded at following my passion by walking away from my anti-passion. One step closer. I wish someone had said to me ‘you’re not a failure if you don’t know what your passion is.’ In all honesty, I still don’t know what my passion is. But I’ll keep trying new things and enjoying the journeys of my anti-passions until I find it.

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