On “Passion”

I was a firm believer of what people call the “calling” or “passion” for at least my whole high school life. I came to question its viability when I entered university, and I eventually became indifferent to it.

That summed up the biggest change of outlook in life I had for the past 8 years of my life, which influences my view on individuality.

To be clear, I recognize how some people may realize early on where their passion or calling lies and pursue through it, some might find it by accident, or realize it in their latter stage in life, while some may not at all even come to that point. But life goes on, and someone has got to pay the bills. In that case, I do not see why people are not allowed to be indifferent of their jobs, because it does not construct their whole life or identity as a person.  The structure requires you to work for money thus survival, and sometimes, what you like doing is not deemed lucrative. But you need to make do of what is available and feasible.

This brings me to think about whether one life matters; whether my existence is significant in this world. Studying international politics may bring you to think about how individuals were the least of the concern of the world system as it is power that matters most, and that mostly, it was held by other larger entities. If we as humans are just teeny tiny parts of a larger system, it is rather difficult to have a say on whether one individual is significant to the whole order of things. Yes, there are very powerful individuals, but even their very actions are the result of the decision of a concerted opinion and effort. Bottom line, average people have always been the bottom of the food chain.

I recalled when this thought first struck me as an 18-year-old, it made me question many things in life, but mostly my belief that one person matters; that I matter. I contemplated whether there are even any chances of me to live up to what I then believed is my passion; furthermore, how I even dare to think there will be such chances and that I can obtain those goals. How was one deemed qualified and chosen for a specific set of responsibilities despite their similar educational background and personal qualities? How, in any possible mathematical calculation or any other intangible considerations, was I so “unique” or “special” compared to anybody else that I may be able to achieve it?

But more importantly, is that even how the system works? Instead, are things decided by something trivial, like the alphabetical order? Or maybe whether your documents are placed on top of everyone else’s? I don’t know, it is even more pointless trying to know who is responsible with running the system.

So after going through sleepless nights, unable to function in daily life, blaming the obvious lack of clarity of the future and failing miserably in trying to answer whether I could defy the way the cookie crumbles, I decided to drop the embarrassing “special snowflake” syndrome and basically turn to “making lemonades out of lemons”, or whatever it is that sells. I instantly feel like a burden is lifted, just in time to collect the scattered remains of dignity I have left by then.

Ambitions can be overrated, especially these days with all the popularity of “life coaches” preaching “You Can!”, immediately welcomed without question of their disturbingly similar content by audiences craving for approval and recognition. Sadly enough, it is one of the basic psychological human needs, and people come to pay for it to be fulfilled. Moreover, this underlies how people are increasingly dissatisfied with their life because all strive for the ideal formula: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Little do they know, some will literally never work because either no one hires them, or the things they enjoy are simply considered worth no value in the system.

Even worse, none seem to realize that the measure of self-fulfillment comes from within: one does not have to turn their hobby or talent to something lucrative to feel fully accomplished. A job may just be a job, but it does not stop one from drawing, or singing, or writing, or playing the piano for fun. Fun could be enough. One just needs to do something that pays, and with a little time management, one can still feel alive; perhaps that is what “appreciating the little things” means, and that can matter, too.

To believe or not to believe in a special “calling” or a “passion”: that is not the point of this post. Regardless of which, choose the one that makes you function; the one that lets you at least survive the system.

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