It took three decades to discover my passion, but in doing so, I learned how to defy gravity.
I had been told to “follow my passion” dozens of times, but viewed the statement as an oversimplified piece of advice that lacked next steps. My response was usually, “Uh, but I have no clue what I’m passionate about. How do I figure that out?”
I was envious of people who understood that “thing” that made them tick, whether it be music, medicine, or anything else under the sun. I wondered what it was like to have a defined purpose, and to pursue it without question.
My life changed when I theorized that identifying my passion was like defying gravity.
Isaac Newton established the idea that there’s a force of attraction between two objects (i.e. Earth and human matter) that brings them closer together. What I learned is that discovering your passion requires the opposite effect: distance.
So, what the eff does that mean?
It means that discovering passion requires 1) distancing your thoughts from the “hustle and bustle” of your daily life to understand the experiences that motivate you and the talents that make you unique, 2) separating your psyche from the hardships of your current realities, and 3) living a life of mental clarity rather than mental clutter.
Take Nelson Mandela, for example. His dream of creating a democratic and equal South Africa was motivated by his experience with deep social inequity, and enabled by his political prowess.
He didn’t become consumed by the gravitational forces of his environment. Rather, he took a step back to identify the experiences that he found most fulfilling – alleviating institutional racism and promoting racial equality – and pursued them vigorously.
He effectively “defied gravity.”
Now, you don’t need to be as prolific as Mandela to adopt this approach. You may be a fraction of the humanitarian he was, and your struggles may pale in comparison to his; however, what you do have in common with Mandela is the ability to “defy gravity” in order to understand your passion and realize your purpose.
It’s exactly how I discovered my passion for media. I spent most of my twenties consumed by the “hustle and bustle” of New York City. Life moved fast, and it wasn’t until I began thinking beyond the daily rat race that I was able to consider what motivated me, and what brought me the most joy.
Consequently, I discovered that influencing the way people think about relevant issues, people, and places is what motivates me. It’s why writing, for example, makes me feel insanely fulfilled. It allows me to shift attitudes and create dialogue around things that matter.
Like many others, I didn’t grow up with an understanding of my purpose in the world, and that’s okay. But what I’ve learned is that discovering your passion is a journey – an exercise in self-exploration. Passion often exists right in front of our eyes, but it’s up to us to identify it. Learn how to “defy gravity” and you’ll have come a step closer.