The Trouble with Finding Your Passion

By Ines Quandel

When I received my acceptance letter from the University of Waterloo for the Honours Applied Studies Co-op program I bounced up and down once or twice, clapped my hands, and let out a demure “Yippee”. My Dad looked over and said “Wow, that’s the most excited I’ve ever seen you in your entire life.” And he wasn’t being facetious. I’m just not that excitable or passionate a person. Terms used to describe me include even tempered, quiet, and low key.

So how does someone who isn’t passionate find their passion? I’ve certainly tried, but there isn’t a lot of variance between things that are ok and things that are great. I really liked approach Mark Manson advocates in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck when I initially read it. If you’re willing to put in hours and hours of time grinding through practice and training to become a master of your craft, then that must be a sign that you are passionate about it.

I’m not planning to become a world famous anything though, so the odds of my putting in 10,000 hours of practice to perfect a skill are slim. Plus there are plenty of activities in life and at work that I really don’t enjoy, but have to get through anyways. I’ll always do the tough and unpleasant work assignments right, because that’s how I was brought up. I found that lack of enjoyment of a task and the willingness to do it is not a good indicator of how passionate I am about said task. It’s just an indication of my dedication to the job.

If I couldn’t figure out my passion through either finding joy or willingness to put up with misery, how did I find it? By identifying the things that I always go back to no matter what else is going on in my life:

  • the courses I chose to take that aren’t mandated by work

  • the things I do in my spare time that aren’t relaxing

  • a side hustle I picked up during my year off work

Business, the humanities, and creativity are the themes that weave through all of my extracurricular activities. But these are not my passions.

My passions are based in both my interests and my values and they look something like this:

1. Supporting and helping others do their best in their work and at life.

2. Learning more about the world around me to better myself and my understanding.

3. Applying my creativity to solving problems and sharing my view of the world.

These passions may be vague compared to what we expect to see; it certainly took me a while to identify them. The bright side is that I can apply them to a wide variety of tasks and activities, and that’s a must for someone who loves to learn to do new things.

What are you passionate about?

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