On Misplaced Passion
Think back to when you were a kid.
Something made you passionate, something got you fired up.
Maybe it was playing a game, maybe it was injustice in the world. Maybe you got amped up to solve a puzzle, play pretend or take apart an old computer.
Somewhere, that passion got diverted.
Now instead of passionately playing sports, you just passionately watch. Maybe instead of passionately reading & writing, you passionately debate the recent media headlines. Instead of leading, creating and experimenting, you passionately cling to the status quo.
Somewhere passion got lost. Somewhere you got hurt or made fun of or scoffed at for being passionate. So your passion shifted. You toned it down, turned it off or run from it.
Never again will I be made to feel embarrassed, belittled or criticized like that.
I think it’s time for us (definitely for me) to fight back. (Or at least buy this shirt).
Here’s how it looks for me:
I used to be passionate about parties. Putting a lot of people together for an event. I LOVED gathering a crowd, all different types of folks. As a college RA, I put together some really fun events. But during the process, I heard A LOT of complaints. “This is dumb,” “last year was better,” “you’re ruining the tradition.” The truth is that there were probably 4 complaints, but they’re the ones I remember….
As a student program director, I planned huge events for teenagers. Lots of complaining about details and times and curfew and whatnot from a handful of teens. “Why aren’t we going to this camp?” “Why can’t we stay longer?” “Why aren’t there more supervisors?” “Why aren’t there more boys/girls/seniors/etc?” Again, it was probably 5 complaints, but I just got tired of it.
I let my passion get beat down & get beat out of me. I preferred – from then on – to put together small get-togethers of friends I KNEW would get along and like what we’re doing. I shrunk into my shell, minimized my desire & played it safe.
She’d never tell you this, but one of my biggest issues is playing it safe with her. I know that trying something that’s unfamiliar is risky, but going to that same restaurant and then relaxing at home are both playing is safe.
Over the past month, our relationship has shifted. Being real honest with each other (I don’t think I could be more myself with her), I’ve grown to understand just how much passion lays dormant inside me. I’d jump in front of a bullet for the gal. Something deep inside gets sparked and I realize it’s been calloused over after years & years of protecting myself.
I earned a pretty useless degree in college (who’s with me?): BA in Christian Educational Ministries from a college that’s best known for a wonderful basketball tradition. In the past 3 years, I’ve moved out of that field and into the marketing, entrepreneur, creative space. Lots I learned still serves me, but….
I’ve tucked away my passion and instead tried to opt for not looking like I’m ill-suited for the business world. Don’t speak out too much. Don’t challenge too much. Don’t be too confident or someone will find out that you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Insecurity, I know you well.
During my youth, I was a fierce competitor (maybe a bit TOO fierce). I thought I was the best at whatever I did. My dream of being in the NBA lasted a bit longer than my peers. My belief that I was the strongest, fastest kid in the school lasted quite a bit longer than most.
But I went to college and played football. I learned then – mostly from the upperclassmen on the team – that I was a slow, weak piece of crap. Not a fun way to feel & not a fun crowd to be around. After a year I quit. During the next season, those who were part of the same freshmen class were starters on the team and had a better record than those lame upperclassmen had thought so much of.
Over the next years, I didn’t head to the gym much. I didn’t play on too many sports teams. I didn’t carry too much confidence around. I protected myself from criticism. I protected myself from expectation. I started watching more sports than I played. The passion got beat out of me.
I got my first computer in 4th grade. I was hooked. I couldn’t stop tinkering. I’d change setting, move files, download everything I could get my hands on. I probably ruined my family’s first two computers. I was on a path to become a nerd. I was building websites in 1996. I’d make elaborate powerpoint presentations and could probably have been a corporate consultant with excel (if only I’d have known that was a thing!).
But somewhere in my teens, a few of my “friends” scoffed, so I dropped it. Opting instead for video games, downloading music & instant messaging (funny story: I literally asked out two girls at the same time using MSN Messenger).
I was blogging and tweeting before either was cool. In college, my friends thought I was a dork and wasting my time (they MAY NOT have thought that, but it’s what I thought they thought). I kept it up, but learned to curb my passion. There were circles that the passion was acceptable and others it was not.