“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain

In the novel 360 Degrees of Success, Ana Weber writes,

“People always tell me that they wish they could bottle up my energy. I do tend to have a big smile on my face and a sparkle just underneath the surface, and I’ll tell you exactly where that zing of energy comes from– passion. I found my passion, and I nurture and cherish it every day.

What is your passion? Are you giving it the attention it deserves?”

Discovering what you’re passionate about, sometimes even uncovering a single thing that you adore has a tendency to be difficult. Being able to wake up with a smile on your face every single morning for sometimes absolutely no reason at all is a challenge in itself. It’s common for us as humans to be hopeful, especially when times are rough. However, how are we supposed to be hopeful when we are having trouble uncovering something that we are passionate about, something that gives us purpose, that we plan to work on each and every day to better ourselves– solely  because we want to?

For me, finding my passion was more about finding myself, which I would consider to be a 19 year long journey. Although many of the early years were a blur, except for things I can vaguely reminisce on when reminded of, there wasn’t much finding to do back then– other than my way to the snack cabinet. As I grew, I began to feel, and think, and most importantly learn. I was exposed to things other than the different rooms in my house, my grandmothers house, and at the time, unfamiliar friends of my mothers. I began to go to school, dance classes, gymnastics lessons, sports practices, and art and piano lessons as well. I was on the hunt to find myself, and I had absolutely no idea.

The hunt began with my mother and father encouraging me to find myself subtly, by pushing me to sign up for after-school activities. From soccer to softball to pottery to karate, you name it, I tried it. And although I found myself in dance before I found myself as a runner, I thought I had the jist of it figured out. I began meeting new people and interacting with others on more than a hi/bye level. I began to formulate thoughts of my own, and opinions, that were of course influenced by my parents. I began to form relationships with new friends, new teachers, new mentors– and along the way I began to encounter some problems, as well.

Not only did I face the typical middle school bullies, but I also faced problems caused by my own self-esteem. When everyone began growing up, I believed I was growing separately. When middle school was near an end, I began gearing away towards the children I had grown up with. When everyone began trying drinking and drugs, I began involving myself more into reading, and learning tricks in iMovie to impress my family members. I felt detached from the society I was surrounded by, and I felt as if I was doing something wrong.

I always found myself shifting towards the older crowds, even if they were older by a single year. I felt a sense of comfort in the maturity they had, and the experience they obtained before I did. I learned from them, because they were good examples. The four girls I would consider to be family, I have known since I was about 4 or 5 years old, and they were one year older than me. Although we all went through phases, they never judged me. When they began going out, and I didn’t, they still remained my friend. When they wanted to try new things and I didn’t, they remained my friend. However, although they were a year older, some of us did grow up and learn together.

High school came, and I stuck to my usual ways. I would consider myself a leader by default, never a follower. I always had a big heart, and remained open (and continue to) to anyone who wants to be my friend. The decisions and morals and thoughts and actions of my friends never seemed to rub off on me. Of course I tried drinking and going to parties, but I always did everything at my own pace. Maybe that’s why I felt so aloof.

I soon found myself hanging out with friends and going out with them, only to find myself feeling aloof yet again. I would text my cousins or older friends or even my mother to call me and tell me I had to come home– now. I would then leave and find myself in the comfort of my own home, curled up in my bed with a book, my laptop, or some sort of video game. I spent years perfecting my videography, photography, writing, and artistic skills. I felt as if I was wasting my time.

When I realized that school was more important than a social life, I found myself having been involved in almost every single club by my senior year of high school. I ran fair’s at my school, presented event ideas at competitions, was president of the history club, ran varsity Track and Field, participated in DECA, student council, the TV/Video program and many, many more. If it wasn’t for my involvement in school, and killer Common Application essay, I might not be where I am today, because let’s face it– my SAT scores were not anywhere near what they could’ve been.

Senior year came and the intense focus on track came along with it. Sometimes, I think I was more dedicated to the sport than I actually was to my studies. When my friendships began to fade, it didn’t seem to affect me as much as it used to. I understood that it was me, and I accepted it, and wasn’t bothered by it one bit. I finished off my year strong, and got into a great college, where I am today.

Today, I have a few more months until I enter my sophomore year of college. And although I went through a hell of a lot to get here, I think this past year has help me better understand myself, and help make the understanding of my passions much more clear and vivid. Though, I can’t say I did it on my own. Throughout my journey, I had more than enough help from my parents, and without them I don’t believe I would be here today. This past year, I discovered a friend who has inspired me much more than I ever thought a single human could.

My boyfriend helped me discover my passion. The passion I have for writing, the passion I have for art, the passion I have for maintaining a healthy lifestyle– the passion I have for life overall, my loved ones, and being successful. Not only did he support me, but with him having common goals, I believe we are able to take over the world. Seeing him in times of hardship opened my eyes. When he was unable to be happy at times, he was envious of my happiness; my passion. He would constantly ask, “I don’t get it. You’re always happy. Why?” He would create a verbal list of everything there is to be unhappy about; war, poverty, politics, people, etc., most things out of his control. When he would name things in his control, like having no money, being in debt, not doing well in school, relationships with friends, and the like, I thought about what he was saying.

When he questioned my happiness, I sat on the thought. There was not much in my life for me to be unhappy about. If you wanted  me to sit down and make a list, truthfully, it would be difficult. Why? Because the passion I have for living makes me look past all of the negative energy trying to enter my bubble. I could be upset about grades. I could be upset about friendships not turning out how I originally expected. I could be upset about so many things, but I chose not to be– all because I want to be happy.

There are many things out of a person’s control that cause unhappiness in many people’s lives. There are also things that people are in control of that result in unhappiness. The things that we are in control of, take control of them. You have to want to be happy, I believe that is the first step to a passionate life. The next step is changing what you can. If you are unhappy with bad grades, study, work hard, do better. If you are unhappy with relationships, make them stronger, and put in as much effort as you are receiving.

In regards to things that not everyone can control, help out in ways that seem to be little, but make a world of a difference. Unhappy with the environment? Recycle, use cruelty free products, and advocate it to friends and family. Unhappy with the political spectrum of the world? Vote, and educate your friends and family why you believe your choice is the better choice for our country overall. Small things that you think don’t help, do.

When entering college, I never looked for love. When I found it, I didn’t think it would help me grow as much as I did. I hold true to my heart the fact that you can not truly love someone else until you love yourself. Loving someone else has taught me to love myself even more, and evidently helped me love my lover x10 more than I ever would’ve thought I could! I’m not saying that I needed a man to see my full potential. What I am saying is that with the help of someone, who is a positive influence on your life that possesses similar thoughts, ideas, morals, and motives as you will make a huge difference on yourself and your life.

Needless to say, love has helped me discover my passion, and apparently, become more passionate about it than ever before. My passion is life, living, and… you can guess it… the pursuit of happiness. Cheesy, I know, but as I type this out, it sounds just about right! In The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, Fromm writes,

“If I can say to somebody else, “I love you,” I must be able to say “I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself.”

The correct form of love, the passion and chemistry that you will not find by loving your parents, will open you up to discovering your true self. I believe that my passion for living and my mission to be happy has inspired my boyfriend as well. Our common goals and subtle differences help us grow, and teach each other things that we could’ve learned ourselves, but enjoy learning from each other instead.

My true passion is, yes, in art and exercise and writing. My true passion is also in good knowledge, good literature, and even better coffee. However, I believe my truest passion to be the passion I have for loving my family and friends, the drive I have to be happy, and the urge I have to be successful. I want to prove to myself that anything is possible with a little bit of effort, and a lot of passion. Though my passion may not be in a single thing, to put it all in a box a seal it tight with a bow, I would consider my passion to be for living a good life, and doing whatever it takes me to get there.

I’ve been juggling career options, major options, and other things that seem to be extremely important in my life, yet I can’t seem to figure out yet. I am starting to set goals, rather than plans. Setting strict plans, I believe sets you up for failure and disappointment. Reason with yourself, and create goals instead of plans. “Planning” to do something seems good, until you end up changing your mind, or changing your route, and being disappointed in yourself and your choices. Set a goal, and aim for it. Reach for that goal as high as you can. Set many goals, instead of one single, set plan.

I’ve heard in a study that procrastinators procrastinate because they have an underlying fear of failure. They write their papers last minute, with fear that if they write them early, they will want nothing but to sit down all day and read them; over and over again. So, with the method of procrastination, they can write their papers the night before and hand them in immediately after they are done. I’m not sure if this is true, because I consider myself to be a procrastinator, but not because I fear failure (I do believe I work better under pressure, which, yay for me..).

Fearing failure is a weakness in itself. One of the greatest generals of all time, Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” Fearing failure before you have even failed is like setting yourself up for failure… wow, that was a mouthful. Allowing life to take its course, knowing you’ve put all of your efforts into it is what matters. And if you fail– try, try again.
Passion should be found naturally, and should flow as smooth as water. It is up to you to make your life beautiful. Whether it takes you 19 years or 30 years to discover your passion, giving up on what you truly want to do should be considered failure, at least, it is in my books. Passion lies inside all of us, and letting your passion be known will ultimately, make you the happiest you!

In the words of Vincent van Gogh, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”