Last evening I attended a mental health awareness event in the basement of a restaurant with about 150 other people. If you know me you may be thinking how much I must have wanted to not be there. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like crowds in basements, and I don’t like crowded basements full of people I don’t know. But I was there, and I was smiling; This is how I wanted to spend my Friday evening.
I am not always so self-assured when it comes to making decisions, standing by those decisions, and allowing myself to enjoy what I have set out to do. This feeling, however present, is not nearly as strong as it once was. Often it seems that we sabotage our own plans by failing to fully understand why we have made such plans: We aren’t comfortable with the University we selected because we haven’t researched it well, we wonder if this line of work is right for us, etcetera. We find ourselves in this moment of questioning every decision we have made and worrying that all along, this whole time we have made the wrong move. The opposite of this happens as well: We find ourselves too excited, too confident, and almost arrogant about the path we have chosen. We are so sure we are right that we are offended by the suggestion we may need to re-evaluate where our life is headed, if we are meeting the goals we set out to reach and if we are doing it with a conscience.
We seek balance; We hope to find that one thing in our life that we believe in and are passionate about. We do not question its foundation but we also don’t kneel to it. We know, in our hearts, that the core of whatever we have chosen to be passionate about and direct our efforts towards is pure. We do not spend time questioning the philosophy, the bedrock. But we must be careful to not find ourselves moving blindly within the grip of our passion. Not everything is right all the time — we must remember that it is the core of this thing that we believe in; Everything else is negotiable, everything else is a moving part.
I have a friend who studies architecture; I won’t use his name. I believe it to be his passion, something he has found that drives him, something that doesn’t need to make sense to anybody else. But he does not go around believing every building to be perfect — it is not the structures that he has a passion for. He has found a passion that is rooted in architecture, something that doesn’t change. Perhaps it is the purity of creation, the basic desire for structure, the art within it. Whatever it may be, it doesn’t move. There will be movements in the world of architecture, different designs will become popular and others will fall from grace. The passion is not found in any of these things. Every building in New York could vanish but architecture would not change; It is a passion in the unmovable.
So here I am, believing in my life. It is what makes being in a basement with 150 strangers enjoyable — not because it is the only way for me to take part on this particular evening, I am not sacrificing a part of my personality to do something I believe in. I am sacrificing my selfishness, my ego, my insecurities; These are the things that make basements uncomfortable, they make me irritable and cynical. When I am confused about why I am doing something I become uncomfortable and try to find a way out. I am full of self-doubt, I want to know what you think. It is what happens when you aren’t sure you are doing the right thing, you begin asking other people what they think. The act of doing this is nearly comical: I will ask someone who knows nothing about the thing I am doing, the work I am doing, what they think about it. They don’t even necessarily know what it is I am passionate about, and they won’t understand all the reasons anyhow. This is what I want to avoid; Having so little faith in what I believe in that I need others to tell me if any of it is right. This is utter confusion.
What we find, what I have found, is an understanding of my passion. Much like everything else, this passion can lead any way it wants. The actual thing I believe in is not complex; I can’t allow it to be. I don’t place a lot of value in things that are always moving or have the potential to change. People will change, institutions will change, paths will most certainly change. My value is in the very core of my belief, my value is in the unmovable. Others WILL disagree with you, others will question why you do what you do, you yourself will question it from time to time but do not make a habit out of it. The only thing you need to question is if your actions match your passion — you only need to be sure you are comfortable; When you aren’t, when you question the core of your passion it is time to re-evaluate and it may be time to move on. This is not to say that the core of this passion has changed, instead we may realize that we didn’t fully understand it at the outset. Passion is beautiful and it makes you want to pursue it with reckless abandon — but don’t be so hasty in your pursuit that you overlook your reasons.
Find a balance; ask others for advice and value it. The passion you follow is perhaps the most important thing in your life, it is where you can make a meaningful impact. But remember that it is your passion and it is not for everybody. When people do not understand you do not lash out at them, they are not beneath you. Do not bully others into accepting your beliefs, do not be so insecure. Remember that whatever your belief is, whatever you devote your life to, the thing you are passionate about, it was there long before you were. It will remain long after you are gone. It is something you are a part of and though it may define you remember that you do not define it.
When you have truly found your passion, that thing you believe to be pure at its core, you will intuitively know how to enjoy it. The insecurities, the cynicism, the judgment, you will feel it slipping away. When you get there you will feel it, you will not need to ask me if it is pure. You may have just begun, you may still be seeking contacts, you may not work with your passion. These are the things that change, they are important but they are not immediate. In this world you are always beginning, you do not want to stop, you will want more from your passion and you can find it. You have done your homework, you know that there is purity in your belief. Expect everything else in this world to change but remember there is a constant. So relax, your questions are not necessary. You have found what you were looking for — enjoy it.