My sophomore year in high school, we were required to come into school on Tuesday evenings to learn leadership skills. Our instructors, who were upperclassmen, told us we had to be “Level 3” about something in order to pass. The idea was that Levels 1 and 2 were general interest and love, respectively, but Level 3 went above and beyond. They wanted to make sure we could demonstrate passion for something.
Most of my classmates including myself were reluctant to get up in front of everyone and show how “level 3” we were. In my case, I didn’t think I had any passion for anything. I had come to terms with that belief until I hit a wall last year where I woke up and realized I wasn’t sure if I was happy where I was. I felt like I needed to “follow my passion,” but I didn’t know what that was.
You don’t find passion, you develop passion
In life, if you really want something but can’t find it, you have to find a way to make it yourself. No one’s going to make it for you so you can stumble upon it. The same thing goes for “finding yourself.” You are responsible for yourself, so you should be creating yourself. You are right here, what are you trying to find?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
In The Crossroads of Should and Must, Elle Luna explains that one way to develop your passion is by taking a look at what you liked to do growing up. It’s taking a look at your Level 1s and 2s and seeing if you can step it up into a Level 3. When I looked at my own childhood, I knew I enjoyed reading, writing, drawing, and building things. I thought that would be a good place to start, but whenever I started a project, I would create negative self-talk about why making it was impractical and pointless. I started questioning if that was what I was really interested in. I was beginning to think that there was nothing worth pursuing.
Let your curiosity guide you
“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” — Albert Einstein
In many ways, I can see how formal education not only crushed my natural curiosity, but replaced it with middle-class mindset. Addressing the passion problem for me is about figuring out my life purpose and using it to reconnect with and develop my curiosity again.
Curiosity makes us come alive
When I quit my job, I told my coworkers that “I’ve taken it upon myself to start living by the words of Howard Thurman, ‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. So what makes people come alive? I’m not sure, but I know that curiosity is what fuels it. Foster your curiosity to find your coming alive.