Finding a passion is difficult. Is it really possible for everyone to identify one thing that makes them feel alive that they also happen to be amazing at? I mean, you can like multiple fields of study, plus want to become a singer-songwriter, and even feel like you could start your own business. In a generation that has knowledge of anything and everything available at their fingertips, how are we supposed to recognize our passion?

Well, good news—picking just one isn’t a rule. Everyone just thinks it is.

The problem that our society faces is we keep thinking our career choices can provide some sort of recognition of who a person is. To this I say, we’ve got to stop defining each other by profession. “What do you do?” is often a common question one asks when they first meet someone. To the happily and singularly-employed, they may reply that they are a writer, a doctor, a veterinarian, etc. But that is certainly not all they do. Maybe they’re also a mother, a graphic designer, a marathon runner, or a race car enthusiast. Of course, you could be the most passionate about your full time job, but that doesn’t mean you’re not equally passionate about your hobbies. So what happens when you’re ‘multi-passionate’? What are you then?

Also, say you’re unemployed or exploring your options, well, oftentimes, you feel obligated to attain a full time job or a deeper field of study in something just because you think you should. Sometimes, people will think you’re lost because you cannot define your purpose. But, that’s not truly what purpose is about. It isn’t defined by the skill sets you have or how successful your business venture is. It is what you want to bring to the world. It is, in most cases, not singular or tangible.

So, I’d like to replace the question, “What do you do” with “What are you passionate about?” That is something I can answer with certainty, even when I’m unemployed or exploring my full time options. As someone who has wavered between creative careers and jobs that serve social sectors, I’ve been back and forth between being confused and lost and empowered in the most dizzying way. I cannot express the sense of fulfillment I feel from creating impactful changes in communities that need it. The connection I’m able to grow with groups of people makes me feel like I am an important, contributing part of humanity. But sometimes, I also feel the same when I sing. I can connect with an audience and although I’m not improving their living situation through an advocacy campaign, I can speak to their emotional needs and provide some sort of relief through my music.

Telling someone I am a nonprofit project manager / journalist / photographer / singer / advocate / whatever is truthful but confusing and it will never clearly define what I believe makes me who I am. Instead, I’d say I am someone who wants to create a connected sense of community amongst people, whether that is through providing them nonprofit services or writing an article that helps them understand themselves. I am every combination of whatever I want to be. I am not defined by what I do, but why I do it.

Photo by Lavina Harte