To the Restless and Passionless

Blog after blog, and self-help book after self-help book shouts out for us to find and follow our passion, pursue it with vigour, become experts… and then use that expertise and passion to make money. (Presumably because that is what life is all about. Well… that and finding your passion… and being an expert… and writing blogs to tell people about all of these things.) But I don’t feel I have that passion. I’m not sure I ever have.

I have never been possessed enough to stay with one activity long enough to become a genius, a virtuoso, or even an expert. Society seems to tell us that finding your one thing is a prerequisite for passion, and I’ve lost track of how many new things I’ve tried in my efforts to find mine. But then I also have a restless nature, and I will quickly seek out a  new activity once I reach that point of being good enough – whatever that means.

This lack of passion, and the joy I seem to find in my own incompetence (because that is what I face every time I begin something new), has unsettled me for some time. I tried to reassure myself that maybe passion is one of those things we see in others, but which we rarely observe in ourselves. If I was merely blind to it, if I really did have it, I just needed to have faith. Of late, however, I’m finding that faith to be unnecessary. I’m seeing more and more articles from people like me, or espousing the merits of being like me; those restless souls, those Renaissance spirits, those… ’masters of none’.

I recently listened to an HBR podcast, which spoke to the perils of focusing exclusively on one’s strengths. Another, a TED Talk, passionately made the case for people who have struggled to find their one true calling.

I have lived for some time in acceptance of my lack of passion, and my permanent state of mere partial competence (at least insofar as I define competence), and I’d convinced myself I was ok with this. But if I was truly ok with it, then why did I feel such relief to find others vocalising my thoughts? (Two thoughts spring to mind as I write those words: that there is comfort in finding others like you, and that I need to care less what society thinks, although both of these are topics for blog posts other than this).

So here’s to the eclectics of the world. Here’s to the connectors, to those people who randomly think of Monty Python when in a business meeting, who use breathing meditation to improve their high tempo cycling workout, who see the art in the Higgs-Boson particle, who like the musical qualities of place names like Antananarivo, and Giggleswick

The above may, or may not, be their interests and connections, and it doesn’t matter; their interests are too varied, and their opportunities to form connections too manifold to be able to capture them. That is as it should be. They embrace their incompetence. They might dance with many different forms of kryptonite. And they keep learning, keep growing, in their… passion?… to be ever more complete.