May 18, 2016

I Don't Have a Passion

“What is your passion?” my professor, Rui (pronounced REY) Wang, asked.

At first, the question seemed simple. Yet, after pondering it, I realized I didn’t have an answer.

“Well… I’m passionate about a lot of things”, I tried to explain. “I’m passionate about the environment and… about other things too!”

Compared to Rui’s level of passion for his hardware business, my passion for the environment felt like peanuts. It was only an interest. It wasn’t a satisfactory answer. As the days flew by, I had continued to think about this.

One evening, I stumbled upon a TED talks playlist named, “Talks to watch when you don’t know what to do with your life”. Since I had nothing better to do, I decided to watch the first one.

Click the picture below to watch it. (I didn’t think it was worth watching.)

"Why you will fail to have a great career" Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

What was inspiring was that it also talked about passion. It reminded me of the chat that I had with my professor. He talked about how most peoples’ careers fail because of a lack of passion. People with passion in the field that your in will always be more successful. You may earn more than them if you put enough of your time into it, but enjoy doing what they do, while you will still be searching for your life’s purpose.

The more I thought about it, the more I drove myself into a dead end. I wasn’t passionate about anything. I enjoyed doing almost everything from a young child. I enjoyed playing all the sports, found them all to have different aspects that I was passionate about, and to this day, I still enjoy a large variety of topics. I may be a computer scientist in school, but outside of school, I’m passionate about the arts, music, literature and humanitarian subjects. I enjoy writing in my free time, reading, and reading some more. I find all sorts of stuff interesting and I have an insatiable curiosity to learn more, no matter what it is. Whenever I travel, I enjoy engaging in conversations with strangers. I’m genuinely curious to learn more about them and what they do. The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize.

“Could anything can become a passion?”

“Does your passion have to be in a certain field or activity?”

“Could you just be passionate about learning?”

One way that my professor defines a passion is something that you are willing to do for the rest of your life. There is nothing that I would be willing to do for the rest of my life, except learning. I can’t do one thing only. coding? writing? reading? philosophy? economics? math? no way. Although the one problem that I now realize is that learning as a passion does not make any money. Well, directly that is. Indirectly, it could generate income based on my knowledge and skills that I develop through learning.

Or I haven’t found my passion yet. That is another possibility. Based on my past and how well I know myself, I won’t find a distinct one. But who knows? Anything’s possible, right?

A bit about my professor.

Not only is he a tenure-track professor, he also runs a business from his house. He creates open-source hardware. It started off as a hack to solve a home problem, but after he posted it onto his blog, it got a lot more attention. People began asking him if the product was for sale, so he decided to turn it into a business. He tells me that he only does it because it makes him happy and that he is passionate about it. He told me he wouldn’t have started a business if it was only for the money. He worked on the business every day throughout the summer and has never viewed it as work. He takes extra enjoyment in helping make people’s lives easier. This is what I call passion. This is also what many people would consider success.

© Wesley Tian 2019

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