• Eve Arnold

Passion is Fast-food, Curiosity is the Way

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Curiosity will help you find what you’re looking for. For the longest time I’d been chasing, hopelessly trying to find my passion. Like putting my hand down the back of the sofa and trying to retrieve that £1 I’d lost a week ago. But every time I was coming up empty.

A little like fast food in the sense that you crave passion. At the end of a long day when you’ve still not found it, you think the answer is a salty, fatty burger. It’s cheap, easy and doesn’t take any work. And it tastes good at the time but the day after you realise that’s not what you needed. The idea of ‘finding your passion’ is cheap and the equivalent to buying a burger. The idea is good but that’s about it. You realise that you won’t find passion by just looking for it just like you won’t feel nourished after a cheap meal.w

Too many burgers later, I thought, maybe I should just be curious for a while. Maybe I should try a home cooked meal and put the effort in.

When you ask the question that everyone seems to ask at my age:

“What should I do with my life?”

The most common answer you get back is:

“Follow your passion”

And that’s fine, if you have a passion. But what if you don’t have a passion or what if you don’t even know where to start? That’s where I was. I’d done everything right up until this point, yet I just didn’t know what I was good at or passionate about. If you’re lucky enough to know what makes your soul dance that’s great but a lot of us, straight out of university, we haven’t got the foggiest.

I’ve gone on a bit of a gruelling journey with work happiness to get to this point. The point where I can see where I want to go and what I want to do. However, that’s after 4 years of back and forth, testing jobs, questioning my purpose every single day. The worst days are the ones where you think you’re never going to find it. You feel like you’re trying, like you had an incline that this might be the job, it sounded good, but 6 months in, you realise this isn’t the job.

Back to the drawing board.

It’s hard to keep chipping away at something that feels so distant. Especially when you’re not really sure what you’re looking for. That was the last 4 years of my life and some days I still go back there.

What Worked for Me — Embracing the Curiosity

For years I piled on the pressure.

“Eve you should know what you want to do by now, you’re 23, most people your age have got it figured out.”

Every morning in the car, every evening on the drive back. The same conversation over and over. It was hard to get out of the habit of asking myself every day “is this what you should be doing with your life?” And whilst I’ve still not figured it out completely there are some things that I have learnt, things that I think are helpful in figuring out your workplace happiness. Most of it centres around the idea of embracing your curiosity.

1. You have more time than you think – Embrace Your Curiosity

I don’t know why but as soon as you leave uni it feels like you are in the starting blocks and the gun has just gone off. As if life up until this point had been your training and now you’re ready to run your first race. Instead of how fast you can run, we measure ourselves on other things like:

  1. How much money do you earn?

  2. What’s your job title?

  3. What’s the progression like?

The more the better. However, what I realised is that the years slide by and you grow into yourself. You learn what you like and what you don’t like and if it takes you 6 months to realise that you categorically hate spreadsheets, that’s time well invested. It really is a marathon, this work thing, having the expectation that it is anything less is a recipe for unhappiness.

2. You can get into the habit of telling yourself a negative story

I did a great job of that for years. Telling myself I hadn’t found it, still. I was taking too long, I was convinced I was moving backwards. What I realised though, is that I control the story I tell myself. So I could tell myself I hadn’t found it or I could tell myself I was on the journey to finding it and so far I’d crossed a couple of things off the list.

Same circumstances. Different story.

And that is quite important for your mental wellbeing, at least it was for me. By constantly beating yourself up about where you are and what you’re doing creates a habit. A bad habit. That habit is then hard to break. In order to break it you need to be attuned to the story you’re telling yourself, understand the cues and change the habit. Swap it out for something else. So instead of getting in the car and thinking ‘what a pointless day’ you can flip it too ‘what was good about today and what would I change?’

3. Passion isn’t something you find it’s something you cultivate

I spent time looking for passion like a lost set of keys, what I realised is that passion is much more about creation and cultivation. Passion is much more like a great relationship than a lost set of keys. You don’t go on a first date and think “That’s it, I’ve found it.” but yet we treat passion with the same level of effort. As if we could walk round the corner and there it is.

Passion comes from trying, failing and sticking with it anyway because it’s interesting, it makes you more curious because it gives you something in return. At the start it might not give you much, a corner smile maybe, but then, over time it gives you more. It becomes something you rely on, something you use as a tool to help you get through the rubbish days. You create a bond with this thing, whatever your thing is, much like a relationship. You wallow in the bad times and enjoy the good times. Over time, through preserving, you become bonded. It becomes something to rely on.

4. Follow Your Curiosity

One of the things that is quite pure is what peaks your interest. It’s a small thing but well, small things are often what make up the big things. Just listening to what sparks your interest is quite a good recipe for finding/ cultivating your passion. You don’t need to have it all figured out, you can just go where your nose takes you.

Piling the pressure on can sometimes be more of a hinderance rather than a help. The constant nagging at yourself becomes a bad habit that it’s hard to get rid of. Maybe embrace your curiosity for a while.

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