I don’t have a passion. I am a passionate person, but I don’t have a passion. There is no single thing that drives me out of bed in the morning, nothing that I would consider my life’s mission. I simply do not have a passion.
As a kid, I ventured into many different activities and projects. I did ballet and theater. I worked on a school newspaper. I wrote short stories. I loved to cook. I loved babysitting. I loved making videos. I loved drawing. I loved literature.
At one point I was passionate about all of these things. And in many ways, I’m passionate about them still, but I couldn’t devote myself to just one. I haven’t been able to do it now as an adult! Committing myself to a single passion seems like a big underestimation of everything I have to offer.
I used to be envious of people who had a single passion. It would make things a lot easier. You know what steps you have to take to pursue your goals. You know what to study, you know where to go next, who to connect with, but there is no step by step guide for people who are intrigued by and skilled at multiple things. You’re just expected to pick one.
When I hear that someone just made there 30 year mark at the same organization or company, no matter how far they’ve worked their way up the ladder, it sends a chill down my spine. I like being able to do something new everyday. I like being able to learn something new everyday.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. The culture of the world is to train a person to do one thing and be one thing only. And although, that may work for some folks, but it’s not realistic for many growing up in this century where there is no survival based need to have only one trade.
In high school, you don’t just learn science. You learn math and english and art and physical education. All of those things contribute to your well roundedness, but at some point, and I feel this happens very quickly and suddenly, you’re expected to pick one or two things.
In movies and TV, this is always depicted as a bad thing. The lost kid who’s unfocused in life so they jump into the first thing that will give them structure and focus… the military. But having multiples skills or gifts or interests is not lacking focus. It’s strength. You see gaps in the world that need to be filled that others don’t. You’re able to multitask and adapt. And no matter what it is you’re currently doing, you bring every skill you have to it, and you excel.
Sometimes I joke with people when they ask me what I want to do and say, “I want to be Oprah.” But in all honesty I’m serious. Oprah is not one thing. She’s an interviewer, a producer, an actress, media executive, gardening enthusiast, philanthropist, book critic, broadcast journalist, talk show host, director, author, CEO. I mean the list could go on.
And no one can deny that her contributions to young women around the world and black folks in media is not influential. But imagine if she was stifled and pushed into doing one single thing. We’d be missing out on a lot of wonderful things.
If you want to know more about the wonders of having multiple interest and skills, check out the Ted Talk by Emilie Wapnick down below.