You know the stereotype of the, “ze’s always wanted to be X ever since ze was a little child.” You know it and you’ve always been envious of it. Wouldn’t it be a dream to know WHAT you’ve always wanted to do, to pursue it, and to have a job that feeds your daily passion? Every moment at work a joy!
We knew one person in high school who was like that. She had a specific all-consuming passion that she’d had since she was three years old. It drove her. She got a fancy high school degree, a solid undergraduate degree, and got into graduate school at the best program in the world for her field for her area of interest.
But within her larger passion, she didn’t end up doing her dissertation on her passion subset. Apparently everybody shares her passion subset. Like getting an English degree on Shakespeare or Jane Austen or something. Instead she did her dissertation on obscure author X, related to the obscure author area of her thesis adviser.
She married a man that we, frankly, disapprove of. He has made her cry on multiple inappropriate occasions and snipes at her in public. He’s a jerk. We also heard him say once that he had no intention of moving cities for her job. He’d moved for graduate school and that was enough, thankyouverymuch. His bachelor’s degree is pretty portable, so it’s not like he’d be making impossible sacrifices.
We lost touch… but after working as a post-doc/lecturer at fancy graduate school for a couple of years, and having a passel of babies… she did a stint as a high school teacher… and now is trying to get freelance editing work.
None of this has anything to do with her passion. Did graduate school kill her passion? Did her husband manage to kill her self-esteem? Did she decide babies were more important than career? We don’t know. She might be happy, but given what an emotionally abusive jerk her husband was the last time we saw them together, we kind of doubt it.
We hope that someday she gets to do something involving her passion again. Maybe not being a professor traveling from archive to archive… but maybe as a communicator sharing her joy with young three year olds as intense as she once was. Writing children’s books… working for an archive or museum… something. Maybe after the kids are in school…
I know of one other person with an all consuming passion… movies. He’s in pharmaceutical sales now and keeps movies as a hobby. Even though he lives in Southern California.
And yet, many of our friends who had no driving all-consuming passion growing up are doing amazing things that they just sort of fell into. Several are now independently wealthy. Many are entrepreneurs. Some have degrees in things they discovered in college. Some enjoy high salaries and flexible work weeks. Some work for game design companies combining multiple interests… maybe not writing the great American novel, but coming up with plots and dialogue for children’s video games. Things they’d never thought about at the age of three.
Maybe passions are better left for hobbies, and it’s ok for work to be interesting and stimulating, but not all-consuming.
Do you know anybody with an all-consuming passion where it worked out?