By Elyse Wild
When I left high school, I thought that I could bypass college and jump right into the life I dreamed of–book deals, world travel and endless happiness. I know that this is what I wanted, I just didn’t realize that it wasn’t going to just happen, that I had to work for it.
Work requires motivation, and motivation requires passion, which I lacked. I was totally and utterly passionless. My early twenties were like one long Prozac commercial; I slept, woke up, went to work and my days off were spent in a drug induced daze with my DVD collection. I knew that I liked to write–I always had, it had been the one thing I was always decent at–and I enjoyed photography. But every time I picked up a pen or my camera, I would inevitably be interrupted with that bastard of a conscience: “What, pray tell, is the point?” Frustration would ensue and I would crawl back to the safe cradle of my DVDs.
I have always, always loved to read, but the solace I found on the page was preventing me from living. I clung to my books as if they were the only line I had to human experiences. Most of my nights were spent chain smoking by my bedroom window, aching and wondering at what point did the image in my head diverge from what had become my actual life. I spent years like this.
Then, on a whim, four months before I turned 23, I responded to a Facebook post calling for volunteers and I began spending every Friday working in the art room at Heartside Ministry. I was making contact with the world, for a few hours a week. I was late a lot, and questionably helpful, but it was a start and I kept it up.
This is what followed, in a nutshell, minus all the fun in between: I realize that my living situation is not conducive to happiness, so I quickly changed this, and moved back home to save money, for all of the dreams in my head that were quickly solidifying into goals. A few months later, I managed to pay off thousands of dollars of debt to get back into college. Fast forward: I take a photography class that forces me to pick up my camera. I get into my first art show, sign a lease on a studio space and start booking clients. Forward: I start taking Kung-Fu and I open myself up to things I never thought I could do. Forward: I garner awards in one week for journalism, fiction and poetry. Two weeks later, I started an internship at an arts and entertainment magazine. Forward: More art shows, better website, major advertising opportunity, more writing, photos, love, travel, and life. More life.
All of the above occurred because I took a step out into the world, and that led me to finding my passion. I’m 25 now, and I’ve since learned that passion equates to the will to live, not just survive, and to succeed. The person I was isn’t even comparable to who I am now. I work hard, I play hard, I sleep like an infant, and when I don’t, when life sucks, I know it will pass because I am moving forward.
Get the hell out there. Take a class you know nothing about, join a group, volunteer someplace you’ve never been. Pay attention to what you react positively to and keep doing it. Your passion isn’t going to kick down your door and dance in front of you while you fall into your weekly Netflix trance. Sunlight won’t actually sear your skin off and fresh air isn’t that poisonous. You have to get yourself out into the world and pay attention. Open yourself to receive direction. Do something you have never done before. Good things come to those who manifest. Meet the universe halfway. Finding your passion does not mean that life isn’t going to occasionally suck hard, but it will certainly give you the strength to hang on.
And sometimes, do what other people say you should do. It is hard to see yourself and all that you could possibly achieve, but the people around you maybe able to see it very clearly. Instead of biting someone’s head off for suggesting a direction or idea that could unleash your talents, as though they are pointing out your unbelievable laziness and inability, take it in. You have nothing to lose.