In last week’s #30before30 post I talked a little about the inspiration for this blog series. It was also inspired by one of my favorite quotes, from the writer Douglas Adams:
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
I definitely haven’t ended up where I thought I would at this age, but boy, have I seen some sights along the way! And looking back now, my view of goals, happiness and success have changed drastically. If I could go back in time and hand my younger self a new #30before30 list, it would look remarkably different from the bucket list of items I originally wanted to accomplish. There are a lot of lessons I’ve learned the hard way over the past few years, and I wish I could share that advice with younger me.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that ignoring your passions in life can be fatal.
Look at that selfie, taken in September 2018 at the Devil’s Punchbowl in Oregon. I’m punch-drunk thrilled to be running down the beach. But would you believe I barely traveled for over ten years? I was dying to go, but it was “too expensive” and “too time-consuming”, among other things…so I stayed home. I finally started devoting more of my weekends to traveling, camping, and hiking this year. Now I can’t get enough.
When you think about it, my reasons for not traveling seem silly, but these are the excuses we give ourselves every day when we dismiss our passions as “less than”. Something is less worth our time, less worth our money, and less worth our attention. Your passion might be a pursuit like travel, or it might be a hobby you hope to turn into a career, or it might be a cause or a volunteer project. Whatever it is, explore it! I spent much of my twenties ignoring my passions and I can tell you, that is a slow death. Without passion, what’s the point of life? You’re merely existing.
I do realize this can be easier said than done.
People love to tell you that whatever you’re interested in is not serious enough or doesn’t have enough earning potential. I think growing past that trap of social obligation is difficult, because it slowly moves from other-imposed to self-imposed. Soon you don’t even realize you’re weighed down.
I’d love to say that I’ve morphed into a master of self-confidence who doesn’t care what others think, but that isn’t 100% true. It’s more true that I learned, from years of trudging along, that not doing what makes me happy makes me really, really miserable. Do I still feel like I have to justify the time and expense of a road trip? Oh yeah. Do I still squirm when someone asks what my career path is and I say “writing”? Hell yes! But am I willing to squash my passions for a nod of approval? Nope. I did that for ten years and it didn’t make me any more successful in life.
A great way to explore your passions? Get with a like-minded group.
Follow others on Instagram (or your fave social media channel) who share your passions. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Make friends (IRL or online) who can encourage and support you, whether you share a passion or not. Having a circle that gives you positive feedback is important. Naysayers aren’t going to help you!
Start focusing your passions. Make a mood board or a bullet journal, if applicable. Make a plan. But most importantly? Put it into action. Don’t build all that momentum just to let it die.
In a way, launching this blog series ties perfectly into the idea of exploring your passions. I’ve dabbled in blogging on and off for a decade but continually shoved it to the back burner when other things demanded attention. But writing is my passion, and so I’m committing to a weekly writing schedule that will challenge me and (hopefully) inspire you.