Help! I Have No Idea What My Passion Is
I decided to write after another long day where I left work feeling depleted and questioning why I'm even getting out of bed in the morning.
Suffice it to say, I do not like where my life is, and I cannot find a way out.
To give you some back-story, I was put in a position in my freshman year of college where I had to choose my major and my eventual line of work. I was 20 and had no idea what I wanted to do, so I decided on video game development because it was a big hobby. Five years and two degrees later (BA and a MS), I'm in that field and don't want to be here. I'm stuck behind a desk, work absurd hours, don't find my job fulfilling, and keep seeing depressing similarities between myself and Edward Norton's character in Fight Club.
Worse still, I have no idea what my “passion” is and can't find it.
I've taken personality tests (INTJ 5 years running!), career finder tests (which tell me I should be either an artist or a chemist; go figure), tried almost every “find your passion” exercise on the internet, consulted friends, and I can never get a single, unified response.
I don't know where to turn. To that end, I'd like to enlist your help and see if your fresh set of eyes can see a pattern in some of the hobbies and personality traits I'll list below.
I could keep going, but I'm sure you can appreciate my frustration. I don't know what I want, but I do know what I have now isn't it.
Any advice you can provide, no matter how small, would be appreciated.
Interesting letter. You sound like an intelligent, creative, and accomplished person, and let me assure you that you have plenty of time to find your “passion.” In fact, my first piece of advice to you is that you try to accept that you have many “passions,” not just one. This is a good thing, not a bad one. In fact, you remind me of myself. As a young person, I too loved to draw, write, play the piano, and act, and felt frustrated and confused a lot of the time about which of these interests I wanted to pursue.
Now it sounds to me as if you’re supporting yourself with your job as a video game designer. So, for right now I think you should stop taking personality tests and career tests and “find your passion” tests, stop looking for unified patterns in all the talents and interests you have, and, most importantly, stop consulting your friends.
Think about it. For one thing, how would your friends know what you should do with your life? This may sound like a strange statement coming from an advice columnist, but remember: Advice is cheap. It’s cheap because the person giving it doesn’t have to live with the consequences of the advice—you do. And the person giving the advice may not be able to separate his or her own talents, interests, and biases from the advice he or she is giving you.
Instead, I think you should find your passion by getting into a “process” rather than worrying about an outcome. Here’s what I mean. Choose one creative endeavor at a time, and pursue each one by getting into the process of pursuing it.
For example, let’s say you decide you want to pursue writing. (Disclaimer: I’m choosing that because that happens to be my passion.) You could:
The point is to just get started on something and see where it takes you. Remember: Any creative endeavor is a process, not an event. If you’re focused on the outcome, you’re not in the process. In fact, if you’re focused on the outcome, on fear of rejection, or on the applause you hope to get at the end, your creative muse may very well rebel and simply shut down on you.
But once you get into a process in one “passion,” you may find yourself figuring out ways to incorporate another of your “passions” so that you can do something really spectacular. I think of a woman who came to one of my creative writing workshops at one point, and now she’s making documentary films.
Another thought I have is that maybe, since you seem to be doing so well in game development, you can come up with an idea for your own business in that arena and go the entrepreneurial route, which is its own creative endeavor.
Now, I’d like to spend little time on some of the words you’ve used. I am firmly of the opinion that creativity itself is healing and that any creative undertaking you embark upon will be healing. I am, however, somewhat worried that you use words like “depleted” and “having trouble getting out of bed.” You might want to talk about these feelings with a therapist, but in any case, I would encourage you at the same time to pursue your creative endeavor.
I wish you the best,
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About The Author
Disclaimer: The advice in this column is Fran Dorf's personal thoughts. It is not to be construed as a professional opinion. Fran recommends seeking the advice of a trained professional for any serious matter. Fran Dorf writes the "Just Ask Me" column at the Daily Muse. Fran is a psychotherapist-clinical social worker and author of three acclaimed novels. Her essays, poetry, and articles have appeared in anthologies, national periodicals, and literary journals, and she's working on a memoir. Fran also writes a blog, The Bruised Muse. In her spare time, she reads everything, rants about politics, Zumba dances, skis, plays tennis, travels, and plays with her grandchild, Maya.