While we as humans really enjoy telling other people that, "I'm really passionate about ____" to sound interesting (don't lie, you know you've done it), in reality, there are very few things we as individuals feel that strongly about. It's rarely our jobs, though we may feel passionate about some aspects of what we do (i.e. helping people). Our families, sure. But what we really feel passionate about is more likely to be a hobby or interest we've had a love for for years, or even a cause close to your heart.
People are considered lucky if they reach adulthood and still are able to continue doing something they're passionate about; almost like once they enter the "real world," being able to still be involved with things like that is a luxury.
I suppose, in some ways, that's true. For example, if volunteering is your passion, you might not have time to do it as often or even at all once you're (pick one or a few: working/married/have kids/own a house). Instead, volunteering becomes something that, like all true passions, once you're not indulging in it, gnaws at you. Something feels like it's missing; like you're not whole. Sure, life may be great, but you don't feel complete.
This was how I felt (and how I still feel) about writing. I loved to write stories all through elementary school. I even liked writing essays in high school. Sure, they were usually on something I didn't particularly care about, but the act of eloquently putting words on paper and even arguing a point made me feel good. In college, I even edited friend's papers for their classes (and was called a female Simon Cowell for my brutal edits).
|"Your term paper on Pride and Prejudice was the written equivalent of elevator music. You won't be going to Hollywood. It's a no from me. Randy? Paula?"|
And then, the real world closed in. I was a Psychology major who graduated with honors and no stranger to hard work, but there was something particularly grueling about a "normal" job rather than that of being a college student. I had a sucky commute to and from work (1 hour each way...all back roads), and by the time I would get home from work, all I wanted to do was curl up over a plate of food (hoping I'd absorb nutrients via osmosis) and die. I mean, go to bed. Whatever. And so life trudged on. I experienced many happy and exciting things, like getting married and moving around the country, but there was always something...off.
My husband's first deployment came back in 2008. When trying to fill the seemingly endless hours when I wasn't doing one of the following: sleeping, eating, working, exercising, or hanging out with friends, I needed something to occupy my mind so I didn't go crazy wondering where he was, or how he was doing. So, I started reading more. A lot more. I'd always loved reading, but this was ridiculous. I read good stuff. I read mediocre stuff. I read bad stuff. I read terrible stuff. This led me to wonder, hell, if these people can get published, can I?
My passion blinked its sleepy eyes and stretched, but didn't awaken fully. Yet.
The cycle continued twice more whenever hubs would leave, and I started writing unpublishable shorts just to stretch my writing muscles. Little exercises like this reaffirmed to me that there was something missing, and now I knew exactly what it was.
The summer of 2010 was when I really became aware of how much my passion for writing meant to me. One night, my husband sat down with me, and I tearfully told him that I didn't think I could do what I was doing any longer, because what I really wanted to do was write for a living. Now, don't get me wrong...I loved what I was doing. But it was nowhere as fulfilling as writing was to me, and I hadn't even tried to seriously write anything. I'll never forget that he looked at me, and told me that he thought I'd been "lost." That I hadn't been happy, and that something wasn't right, but he wasn't sure what to do, because he knew whatever the problem was, it wasn't him. He gave me his unconditional support to write my little heart out. I couldn't believe that this one thing being absent from my life had been so obvious, but now I knew that I couldn't be without it ever again.
No matter what life throws my way, I will always write in some way, shape or form.
How about you...what's your passion?