Image: Ian Schneider
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“Pasion is my middle name”
This statement sounds asinine at first but it’s literally true. (My name’s Lawrence Pasion Caisip)
It’s almost always followed by an air of awkwardness before I have to explain the joke to the interview panel.
In retrospect, it’s a good thing that I stopped saying that on the account of cringe.
Recently, I’ve gotten myself thinking of why I even said it in the first place, and how my “passion” has evolved over the years.
My Ever-changing Passion
My “passion” was math and physics when I was interviewing to get into my diploma course.
Then, it was innovation when I was applying for my scholarship.
More recently, it became technopreneurship on my university applications.
Since my “passion” has changed so much over the years, it begged the question, “was I really even passionate about those things, at all?”
And who’s to say it won’t change again in another few years?
Quite honestly, I didn’t even feel strongly about any of those things when I claimed them to be my “passion”.
Or, at least, I didn’t feel like I had a burning desire to pursue those things and wrap my whole life’s purpose around them.
I really just wanted the reviewing panels’ approval and receive offers from them. Claiming them to be my “passion” was a really convenient way to package my strengths and wrap my applications around a consistent theme.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who does this.
It’s an unwritten requirement to be passionate about something when applying for exclusive university programmes, awards, and scholarships.
Claiming that you’re good at this and that just isn’t good enough. No, you have to be passionate about it.
“So What Are You Passionate About?”
Having read the personal statements of some of my friends, it’s comforting to know that it’s normal to struggle when answering this question, and I’ve got loads of admiration for those who don’t.
Many of us are just going through the motions.
We do what’s needed of us and a little more. We choose a career path not necessarily because we like it, but because it appears to be the path of least resistance based on what we’re good at.
In rat-race-obsessed Singapore, accumulating wealth has become the end goal. Passion, for many people, is considered a luxury and is often relegated as a secondary objective or something to do when one retires.
The Truth About Passion
A passion is supposed to be a pursuit that brings significant meaning to one’s life. Examples of this could be the arts, music, social work, the pursuit of knowledge, sports, social causes, et cetera.
Having one is an ideal that we’ve long held on a pedestal, evident by the cookie-cutter advice we throw at the youth along the lines of, “Do what you love!”.
But it isn’t that easy, is it?
As much as I’d hate to emulate our parents, how exactly would you turn your side hobby of playing the guitar into a career? Is it even realistic?
Worse still, many incorrectly identify their passion altogether, evident by the numerous examples of career switching we hear from people giving career talks.
I’ve heard people say that they are passionate about marketing, and even finance. No, dear, your dream job is not your passion. Unless, of course, you feel a sense of fulfilment when you see the conversion rates or the S&P 500 on the uptrend.
There’s a good chance you haven’t identified your passion yet. And you’re getting older by the day. And every day that passes is another day wasted not doing what you love. And who’s to say you’re even aware of your passion’s existence?
It could even be something exotic and obscure like Persian rug-weaving for Pete’s sake. Is it even feasible for one to find their passion in a lifetime?
That doesn’t stop us from trying, though. Or, at least, we did when we were younger.
Sometime during adolescence, we start to converge into things we kind of liked. Then we took subjects we were kind of good at. Then we settled on degrees and career paths we think we’d hate the least.
Is that enough, though? Are you really going to look back on your life choices of settling for less while you lay on your deathbed waiting for the grim reaper?
With the way that the world is, not everyone can pursue their passion anyway. Society needs builders, farmers, providers to keep it alive. Not everyone is necessarily enthusiastic about those vocations, or not enough, anyway.
Knowing that, what now? There’s really nothing else one can do other than to keep trying new things, and to keep an open mind.
Again, practically speaking, it’s not like you’ll find your one true calling anytime soon, if ever.
But, who knows? You might just have fun while doing so.
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