“If a passion drives you, let reason hold the reigns.”-Benjamin Franklin
An article on Gretchen Rubin’s website says the following about passion, “A passion gives you a reason to keep learning and to work toward mastery. It can often give you a reason to travel, and therefore have the new experiences so key to happiness. It gives you something in common with other people, and so fosters social bonds. It gives you purpose.” We should all have passions in life; hobbies and activities from which we can derive joy from. But just because we find something in our lives that we are passionate about does not mean that we should try to turn that passion into a career.
When I was a kid I went through a phase where I thought I might be a cowboy when I grew up. That made sense to to me, a young kid living in the suburbs of San Diego that had never even seen a horse wanting to be a cowboy. That dream quickly came to an end when I came face to face with a horse and saw how big, and slightly terrifying they actually are. It also did not help that I did not enjoy horseback riding in the least. With that dream trampled I was going to need to find a different path. When I graduated high school I thought I had it all figured out; I was going to be a financial planner/analyst. That made about as much sense as being a cowboy as I was terrible with money and was neither successful in school nor liked anything that had to do with math. But, that was going to be the plan as I graduated high school and began my journey at community college.
I carried that plan with me as I spent a couple of years at community college, transferred to San Diego State, dropped out of SDSU, transferred to a community college in Arizona and eventually came back home when that did not work out. That is when I thought that maybe a career in finance was not for me and had the grand idea that I should instead be focusing on something I was a little more passionate about.
Growing up I was a decent cartoonist, or so people told a young kid who liked to copy the comics from the newspaper. I kept drawing as I got older and in middle school I had aspirations of creating a comic book with a friend. I even went as far in high school to draw up a comic book loosely based on the idea of a group of super heroes that hosted a late night television show (think Space Ghost: Coast to Coast). I applied and was accepted to Cal State Fullerton where I was going to pursue an art degree in animation.
I moved up to Fullerton, full of excitement and ready to show everyone what I could do as a cartoonist, but was quickly schooled in the fact that animation is an incredibly competitive field and I was a little fish in a big pond. For the first time I was forced to work incredibly hard on something that had always been a fun hobby. It stopped being fun, it started being work, and I no longer found any joy in drawing.
Julia Wuench of Forbes, writes in an article about why following your passion is bad career advice, “If you are doing something habitually and for monetary gain, your passion may lose the luster it once held.” This is what happened to me. I no longer wanted to draw, in fact I still rarely draw to this day. I did not heed to Benjamin Franklin’s advice, I let my passion take the reigns instead of reason and I ended up losing a big part of me in the process. It wasn’t that I had been lied to as a kid and I just was not good at drawing. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have been successful if I put in the work. It was, that despite being a competitive person, I didn’t understand why animation should be a competition. It was that there wasn’t a sense of camaraderie or support in a setting that I thought would be fun and enjoyable.
Passions and hobbies are something we engage in to enjoy ourselves, to build community with like minded people, to build each other up; not to tear each other down. I made a mistake, I tried to turn a passion into a career and I lost. Luckily I was able to get into a career that I have grown into and am now in a position to enjoy. I have learned my lesson and now keep the things that I am passionate about separate from my work. Instead of drawing I have now found a new way to express myself artistically, writing here at DividuusOne. I find myself interacting with fellow writers on social media and my experience in that community so far is one of sharing each other’s work and supporting one another. While I am sure there is a darker, more competitive, and cutthroat side to writing as for a career; I don’t have any plans to experience that first hand. I am not going to make that mistake again, instead I am going to write for fun, I am going to write because I have passion for it, and I am going to write for me.