What I wish I knew: Finding your passion
After my last post, I tossed around the idea of in what order I should tackle the topics. Should they follow a chronological pattern where, after I dealt with curly hair, maybe I should tackle make up next.
This idea held absolutely no appeal to me because, heaven knows if I start heading in that direction, someone may think I’m trying to style myself as a beauty blogger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are beauty bloggers, but as someone with a 2 product make up routine, I don’t think I would ever manage to keep that one going ;).
But there are so many topics I want to cover in this “What I wish I knew” series and, the topics are so diverse, that no real pattern is evident. So you know what, let’s just deal with one subject at a time and maybe there will be some sort of order, by the end of it.
How much time did you spend trying to find your passion when you were a kid? I spent most of my time avoiding confrontation in a corner, because I faced teasing on a daily basis, both at home and at school. This meant that no matter how tempted I was to try something new, I didn’t because no one wants to become a target for bullies at that age.
Fortunately, after gaining some perspective, I shrugged off that fear over the last 15 years because, now I know that, LIFE IS TOO SHORT. Let me offer up an example, my primary school started offering Chess lessons after school when I was about 12. After asking around, I established that while a handful of boys had signed up, no girls were interested. Despite being very tempted, the last thing a pre teen girl wants to be is “different”. The fact that I was short and chubby had made my life, sufficiently hellish. And so, I never learned to play chess.
After 12 years at school, I seriously had no idea what I was good at. Which meant that when I chose what to study, I had to pick from what I wasn’t bad at. Too many daydreaming sessions in Maths meant I dropped the subject when I reached Grade 10. And what happens when you drop Maths (and Science)? Well, your channels of study trickle to basically nothing. At least they seemed to back in 1996.
To make up sufficient credits to qualify for a Matric Exemption, I then completed my schooling with English, Afrikaans, Geography, Fine Art, Graphic Art and Biology. I didn’t excel in anything except maybe Afrikaans. I ended up completing a 2 year Diploma in Multimedia Design before realizing that the course was too general and, since I didn’t specialize in any one of the subjects, didn’t have employers lining up at the door.
Maybe if I had realized that my passion actually lay in the writing arena, I would have studied Journalism at Rhodes. I know I was tempted at some point before I finished school but my broken self esteem didn’t recognize my writing skills, as a passion.
My daughter took ballet lessons from the age of 3 until she turned 7. She is a wonderful dancer and she loved it. However, 2 things made me think twice about placing too much emphasis in her future dance career. For one thing, I was sitting in the waiting area while she was at her dance class, and I heard a handful of older dancers talk about their eating plan…in detail. These girls were 10 years old. I’m sorry but 10 year olds shouldn’t be counting calories, when their bodies aren’t even properly formed yet. These were the same girls that I had watched dancing in 6-8 categories in the ballet eisteddfod, where their first dance was at 9am and their last dance took place at 7pm. They practically lived at Sea Point Civic Centre, for that month.
Which brings me to the second thing. They gave up everything to pursue their passion. Literally everything. They didn’t seem to have much of a life outside of dance class, it sounded like they didn’t socialize with anyone outside their close knit group of fellow dancers and they focused their entire lives on becoming a prima ballerina, when they finished school.
Now, in principal, I have no issue with following your passion to this extent. But what happens when something gets in the way of your dream. If you spent your life dancing 6 hours a day for 16 years, and then suddenly you get injured, how to you recover from that? Or you grow up and find that you don’t enjoy living from one audition to the next, where there is always someone younger and more talented than you, nipping at your heels. What do you have to fall back on? If you’ve given up everything so that you can be a ballerina, what happens when, for some reason, you can’t?
I’m not writing this post as a criticism of the arts. I adore the theatre and I would have spent my entire life singing on stage, if I was good enough to make a living from it. My concern is about finding your obsession, to the detriment of everything else.
Every single on of us, has 5 or 6 things we are talented at. Whether it is singing and dancing or just making beds with perfect, hospital corners. What we need is to have the time to explore our passions, and find a way of turning it into something we can earn a living from. This needs to be done in a balanced way though. Forget career guidance, what we actually need is talent scouts at schools. No, obviously not the ones who work for modelling agencies. We need someone who can look at what we’re interested in, channel us into the appropriate extra mural activities so that we can improve our skills, and help us choose a career that we would actually enjoy.
Am I asking for Utopia or do you think I’m on to something here? I’d love to know what you think.