I know it’s at times blasphemous to say this in the world of student affairs, but I don’t care for the “p” word. It lingers in my ear in an unpleasant way, and I’ve been known to cringe when people use it in interviews or speeches.
That’s right folks, I’m talking about passion. ::shudder::
Let me preface this by saying that I have no problem with professionals who are passionate about their work. None whatsoever. I think that it’s a beautiful thing to be passionate about the work that you do, and it makes it so much easier to be great at it when you are. I just also think that some passions can stay passions, but don’t have to be your job. And just so we’re clear- I love my work. LOVE it. But I’ve realized over the past few years that I do better when my passions and my work are separate. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.
Let me give an example. I’ve seen a lot of commercials for institutions like Le Cordon Bleu and Keiser University, urging those who like to cook to shell out thousands of dollars for culinary degrees. The assumption is, if you like something enough, doing it everyday for a career makes sense.
But what if that’s not true?
I love cooking, baking, and decorating cakes. It fills me with joy to take fresh ingredients and turn them into an edible masterpiece. But I have a feeling that doing it for 12 hours a day (or longer!) would suck the joy right out of it. And while we can advise students toward following the thing they love more than anything in the world, I’d rather advise them toward something they are good at, and enjoy enough, to allow them to pursue their loves as they’d like.
I’ll give another personal example, this one more recent. I love live music, and have worked with it in some capacity at work or in my free time since I was 17 years old. And I loved every minute of it. That said, I find that I’ve enjoyed it more since it wasn’t a part of my job. Did working in it for almost nine years (WHOA) turn me off of it? No, but do I enjoy it more now that it’s not my job? Sure do!
Think of the things you love to do, things that give you joy in your free time. If your livelihood depended on those same things, if you had to do them without the freedom to decide when and how they would get done, would you love them as much? If so, then by all means pursue them as a career. But if they’re your passions because you can do them at your leisure? That’s okay, too. Find a job that you like enough, and that allows you to pursue those passions, and you’ll be okay.