Searching for Passion
So I am currently in the process of moving to Paris for four years, and I'd like to give a shout out to Hollywood filmmakers who built up this idea and made it seem glamorous and easy. It is NOT.
Ok, maybe it is a little bit glamorous and I would be lying if I said I didn't like the attention it has gotten me.
I crave to be different.
I wasn't always like this, I used to be a small and timid person; lost in the chaos of peer pressure. I don’t have anything against those who are shy and quiet, but I yearned to change.
Looking back at the person I was, I realize something about a majority of humanity that puts a sour and judging taste in my mouth.
We let fear consume our personality.
Now let me explain: not everyone is this way, and some more than others in different levels of intensity. But we let media and the general public dictate who our personalities are. We have a fear of standing out, of being judged, of being a horse in a herd full of cows. It is this exact fear that leads us to more troubles.
A theory of mine is that these anxieties are created when we are not fully able to be our true selves: as a compensation to make us different. We are humans: born completely and genetically unique. But the sad thing about society is that it pressures for us to be the same thing, wear the same thing and do the same things. Our poor trapped souls inside of us are screaming to get out only to be pushed further down. Their only way to express themselves is through irrational fears and panics. Now of course there are those of us who are born with natural anxiety like I was. But when you think about how our society is structured, it isn’t made to accommodate the darker sides of our personalities; only cultivating the parts that bring us down every day. I was this person. I let fear control me. I was afraid to fly, afraid to do new things and go to new places. And I discovered something in my fears that is very true for most of us: that our most prominent fear is the fear of the unknown.
I remember when I was in grade school, I was so scared of surprises (and loud noises) that I would keep track of the pattern in which our school held fire drills each month and would try to predict when the next one would be. I was right about 75% of the time and would feign illness to skip school just to avoid it, (sorry mom).
I set out to change this about myself, as I finally realized that my fear was keeping me from living and functioning; while before my fears just served as worries, they evolved into something that kept me from leaving the house.
The year 2014 was the most important to me up until now, for two main reasons.
I'll start with number one: I made a New Years resolution. But unlike your gym membership, mine stuck around long enough to see the next year. I dedicated my time to healing my anxiety through exposure therapy: a process I had learned about in one of the many books I had read as an anti-social adolescent.
I was more successful than I had planned on being.
I relieved my fear of elevators, my fear of heights, my fear of planes, and my fear of being in large crowds.
And little by little, I destroyed my fear of being unique.
I found myself happier.
The artist inside of me realized that it was more fun to stand out and create my life as if it were a painting: beautifully rare and unlike any of those that were made before it. If my life were to be on canvas, i’d want it to be shown in a small gallery in Paris, not to become a mass-produced commodity at Kohl’s.
Reason two is a result of reason one: I began thinking about the future, and less about who I was, but who I wanted to become. In 2015/2016 I was a senior in high school and I had many decisions to make regarding my future: what college I wanted to go to, where I wanted to live, and what I wanted to do in life. I had always thought I would be going into science. Since sixth grade I had wanted to be a surgeon and I stuck with that idea right up until my senior year. But in my new quest to be unique, I saw a pattern of uncertainty in my colleagues surrounding me. When I posed the question “what do you want to be and why?” I was met with a surprising lack of imagination. For whatever reason, society has told us to “play it safe” with the sole purpose to make money. Our dreams have become smaller. Because in a world where everything has dollar signs attached to it, money equals happiness. It was then that I took a look at my own answer to that very question, and realized that the answer to the “why” was the same.
Of course, this confused me and led me to a weird little personal crisis. I didn’t want to live my life only running after wealth. With daily pressure from my peers weighing in, I frantically searched for a new answer.
I looked to my always right and wise mother for guidance. Her solution was that I had to look closely to my passions to decide what path would truly make me happy. This only confused me more as I had no idea what to choose. I had plenty of hobbies and things I loved to do, but none of them stood out to me as a lifetime career-worthy choice. Growing up the shy person that I was, I cultivated in private a vast amount of talents: music, dancing, singing, painting, horseback riding, foreign language, knowing a large amount of useless facts picked up from library books, and even some wilderness survival skills. If you dropped me in the middle of the woods I have enough confidence that I would be able to survive and thrive. But none of this felt right to me.
As cheesy as it sounds, the answer came to me when I least expected it. I remember I was in a study hall for my psychology class and a fellow student asked me what my trip to France (in 2014) was like. Elegantly and with humor, I recited my amazingly outlandish experiences like they were a monologue I had memorized and practiced daily. It flowed so easily. Even though public speaking was never my strength, I felt a confidence in my ability to tell a story thoroughly. And with my quips and anecdotes coming to an end, I felt an emotional connection deeper than anything I had ever had; a new excitement arose in my core. That night, I rushed home to tell my mother about my new discovery, “Mom, I figured it out!” She looked up at me with a question mark clearly portrayed in her features. “My passion, mom, I know what it is.” I’ll be honest, I could see a little relief in her. Finally I would quit my endless, nervous pacing at night. I told her, “It’s stories: retelling my crazy adventures and describing my travels. I love the adrenaline, like I’m reliving those moments through words and visualization. I think I need to be a writer.” I waited patiently for any sort of reaction. She looked at me like I was slow. “I know, you’ve always been like that,” she replied, and returned to whatever she was doing. It was not the answer I had expected I was slightly disappointed. A part of me wondered why she didn’t point this out sooner, but the rest of me was glad I was able to discover it on my own.
So there you go, two instances that 2014 changed my life. When I went to France that year I immediately fell in love with it, which gave me the idea of going there for university. Those ten days were not nearly enough for me, and I craved to return for more time to explore, and create more memories to document for you.
And suddenly, I was finally able to answer the question “what do you want to do and why” with poise and confidence.
If you are lost like I was just remember: money does not bring happiness. Granted I wouldn't be able to go to France without money, it is not the actual money that is bringing me warmth and joy in my heart. It is my passion for travel, for adventure, and for my stories. A life without passion is nothing. If you have yet to find yours, never give up. Because when you finally feel the rush, all of the worrying and pain becomes worth it. And like a flood, the happiness will finally consume you.