On Passion: The Struggle Is Real


I’ve been worried about how people around me are sure about their passion while I perpetually change my mind. I obsess about this one thing, do all the research, scour the library and internet for information. Then it all disappears.

I get tired. My interest fades. Someone shoots the idea down, I concede. Something else comes up, I forget about it. I act on it, get the groove then I encounter a wall and give up. All these have led me to lose confidence. I question myself if I’ll ever be good at anything. Also when I meet people who are overly protective of their hobby/profession/interest, I immediately get turned off with all that diva attitude. It stops to matter to me.

In any case, TED Talks and other discussions about being multi-passionate have surfaced. Somehow it alleviates my feelings of worthlessness. Perhaps the most liberating I’ve heard was from an unassuming video on Youtube by this entrepreneur lady. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who and can’t seem to find that video online again.

It was a bad quality homemade video with a lady sharing words of utmost quality and significance. If you do find her, please let me know so I can at least put her name here. I checked YouTube again and there are more videos on the topic now and I can’t find hers. Anyway, she outlined the following:




She had 3 other points but those above were the ones that stuck with me.

Passion vs. Ambition

First, she distinguished that passion is the love of doing. It’s like loving the act of sewing, holding the materials and putting them together to produce a finished product. Ambition is wanting to be a famous fashion designer with your own line. Passion is loving the act of baking, mixing the ingredients and being creative. Ambition is wanting to sell x number of cupcakes or aiming to be the ultimate Cake Boss.

Once you are being creative, you find the joy in the act and it’s OKAY not to be THE ultimate so and so. You are doing it for yourself. It is an exercise on being present. You don’t have to worry about being good enough.

Ambition is A-Okay When You Are

I love that she mentioned that it’s eventually okay to be ambitious when the time is right. I interpret that term “right” when this ambition doesn’t trample all over the joy of doing. You have allowed yourself to just be. Somehow you keep doing and doing that you eventually become so skilled, you get recognized and/or make a living out of it. So if you’re okay, then I’m guessing she means you will also have the energy to have a go at your ambitions.

Boxes and Labels

People love labels. For good reason. Labels organize. Labels make processes run smoothly because there’s a name for everything. But it can be restrictive. It can build barriers to what would otherwise be an exhilarating and rich experience. It feels good to label one’s self as Yoga Enthusiast, Doctor or Online Influencer. Especially if these are true.

Removing the labels in my mind gives me room to explore. What if a girl with two left feet try out dancing? I think that’s me when I joined a folk dance group. What if an office worker writes a novel? Now that’s Julie Powell who wrote Julie & Julia.


Is this Passion-concept (tied with Ambition) a North American thing?

On the other hand, there is an article in Washington Post by Jon Jachimowicz, wherein he compares the American concept of passion to those of other cultures. I agree with his points. I find that the American concept of passion seems to do away with all the difficult and less glamorous part of pursuit yet ties heavily with success and ambition (contrary to Youtube lady). Jachimowicz has so many quotable quotes but the last few in his article are so valuable to me and I hope it would be to others:

Working adults aren’t either passionate and fulfilled or lifeless and miserable. That’s an overly simplified worldview, in which the dreary desk workers of the world are constantly pitted against the Elon Musks.

Instead, we should recast our own American concept of passion to include other definitions that embrace a broader sense of what a meaningful life could look like. 

I thought all this passion and career problems would be over by my late 20s but wow, life is definitely not linear.

Ang buhay ay parang gulong. Minsan nasa ibaba, minsan nasa itaas. So they say in Tagalog. I don’t understand why it seems that we are taught in this linear way that you must always go up when Filipino wisdom tells us to acknowledge both states.

But for now, all I can say is, thank you Youtube lady and Jon Jachimowicz.

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