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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Don't Settle for OK

There are certain questions I struggle with. I have been struggling with them for years. I imagine many others have as well. What do I want to do with my life? What am I passionate about? How do I even discover what I'm passionate about? Even after I find out what my passion is (however the hell you define "passion"), how would I go about pursuing it?

These questions are brutally difficult to answer and perhaps the answers change over time depending on which point in one's life the questions are asked.  Outside of people who want to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, actors, or musicians, these questions seem to generally be very difficult for most people to answer.  But, even for these professions, how did these people discover what they wanted to do?  How did they wake up one morning and have that EUREKA! moment?  Did they have a mentor pushing and inspiring them? Did they have an emotional or powerful experience that changed their outlook and provided clarity? What exactly did they do to gain such rare peace of mind and much-needed clarity for such an important life question?  How does one put himself in situations that are more likely to yield such "passion-revealing" experiences?  There seems to be nothing but questions here.  Maybe that's the point.  If the solution was easy, questions on this matter would be difficult to come by.

Perhaps some of us have such a wide range of interests that we are afraid of picking one passion to pursue, in effect giving up on our other interests.  Perhaps we are afraid of being simplified and pigeon-holed into being associated with a single topic when others think about us.  Perhaps we are afraid of going broke because we realize that the issue we seem to care about is not likely to lead to financial stability.  Perhaps we are afraid of the volley of judgmental commentary and doubts that will be thrown at us by our friends and family.  The list of fears and uncertainties are endless and paralyzing.

Ultimately, no matter how daunting or difficult the issue seems, we can't simply give up and not even try to figure out what we would love to do.  There is no reset button at the end of the journey.  We can't risk living an OK life where the potential for being inspired and feeling alive is non-existent.  We should seek the valleys and peaks instead of being content with stable plateaus. Such a safe, flat, and predictable path is a guaranteed recipe for suffering through intense feelings of regret.

Get out there and embarrass yourself.  Get lost.  Take chances. Fail. Fail again.  Fail yet again.  Rinse and repeat.  Keep clawing away until your fingernails start to bleed.  As the great Llewyn Davis might potentially say, "don't merely exist."

So you basically wake up.

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