Passion vs Purpose
Passion is defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion”. Purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”. Do you know which one you’re living with?
Once upon a time, a friend of mine told me she didn’t have a passion for anything like I do. Which surprised me, honestly. I thought she was very passionate about a great many things – her family, her work, her friends (even me), women’s causes, and an even greater list of personal hobbies and endeavors. Looking back at that conversation now, I think I see what she might have meant. I think what she was really trying to say was that she didn’t have a passionate purpose – something she felt destined to do and to be excited about.
Personally, I have a passion for a great many things. I can speak with very strong emotions on a myriad of topics. Passion I am rarely short on, whether it be a positive or a negative topic. But there is one thing that appears to be missing from my passion…
Yes, purpose. That all-defining reason for which we all believe we exist. I do believe we all exist for a reason. There is a specific plan for our lives and how we’re meant to touch others. I sometimes joke that I’m an example of what NOT to do in life (which is a sad statement on how I view myself, I know; I’m working on that).
When I was in college, in the hospital, a very close friend gave me the following bit of philosophy. (Since it was the last thing he ever said to me, it has resonated with me for the last twenty+ years.)
“Everyone has a purpose. Even you. Especially you. And if you ever think you’re that different from everyone else, that you’re actually here without a purpose, then THAT becomes your purpose. To find out why you weren’t given one. Because no one exists by accident. There is a reason you are here. And you can only fulfill it if you look for it and don’t give up on life.”
Those who know me best have seen me in “giving up” phases. Honestly, that’s been a lot recently. I can’t find a purpose for which I have a passion. I’ve been doubting my worthiness for existing and delving deep into that abyss of “no purpose”.
MY PASSION + PURPOSE
I’m going to walk through a few ideas here. Things I’m passionate about…but are they my purpose?
I love writing and I think I have a decent knack for it. I’m no William Shakespeare (duh) or anywhere comparable to my favorite contemporary authors. I know I’m not destined to be the most notable author in history or even a best-selling author. Heck, I’ll be lucky if a few hundred people purchase and read my stories. And i haven’t written anything deep or meaningful or even fun and frivolous in quite a while. The writer’s block is strong in me. And if I can’t muster the desire to produce is being an author really my purpose? I’m not so sure about that.
Maybe it’s something else I’m passionate about. Let’s see…
My friends and loved ones. I’m very passionate about them. About wanting to help them. About wanting them to succeed at all costs. About wanting them to be the very best versions of themselves. Sometimes I foul this up. I push too hard. I try to make them see the things in themselves that is obvious to everyone else. And if I can’t get this right on a regular basis, maybe it’s not my purpose.
Children’s causes are something I’m really passionate about. Particularly as I work with a client on a new endeavor of theirs in this area. But I don’t have the knowledge or the deep-seated desire to gain that knowledge to truly do the work they want to do. I can help them within the areas I’m an “expert” or where I am connected to the experts, but the true calling is theirs.
I know! I love music! I love to sing – in chorus, in the car, at work. I love to dance – at parties, in the kitchen, in my dreams. Attending the opera, the symphony or the ballet are my favorite dates. Beautiful and dramatic visions created by artists in any medium. I love the arts in general. But…no. That’s not my purpose. They’re all part of me but they are not my raison d’être.
Well…let’s see. I have a passion for photography. For reading. For video games. For programming. For teaching. For learning. For research. For creating. For connecting. For…
This isn’t that easy to work through and figure out. How do we go about finding our purpose? How do we know what we were put on this planet to accomplish? How do we know we’re working toward the right goals or doing the right thing? Should we wait for the purpose to find us or should we be searching it out?
Part of the reason I think none of the above are my purpose is because I don’t excel at any one area. I’m not an expert writer or photographer. I’m not a psychologist or life coach. I don’t have perfect pitch or an excitement for learning every type of music. I’m not an expert in any area and I’m not currently compelled to be an expert in anything…yet.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re not meant to know our purpose? Maybe we’re just supposed to survive as best we can and when we look back on our life from our deathbed, that’s when our purpose is revealed to us. Maybe we never really know our own purpose in the world. Maybe it’s shown only after we’re gone.
I’ll let you know what I figure out. If you have any thoughts on this or guidance, I’d truly love to hear it. I’m very passionate about finding my purpose!
XO – T.