“Follow your passion” is, today, one of the most common mantras of the modern human. In less than a generation it became the synonym of “living a fulfilled life” in a significant part of our world.
But was it like this always? Were humans always in the pursuit of their passion as the main, fundamental activity of their lives? And, if not, what made this approach so popular and attractive? Even more, is this even true, in the sense that it will actually improve your life significantly?
As one of those who followed this mantra for many years – and who still observes it, but with a few caveats, see below – I’ll try to give my two cents on it.
Was It Always All About “Follow Your Passion”?
If you happened to live in medieval Japan, for instance, following your passion would have been the single, most effective way to ruin your life completely. If you wanted an intense and meaningful life, you would most likely tried to offer your loyalty to somebody, by becoming a samurai. Or your devotion to a religious school, by becoming a monk. Or you started by joining an okyia (a Geisha school) at a very young age, or some apprenticeship as a sailor, or, I don’t know, just kept working in the family business that you hoped to pass away to your grandsons.
You got the idea. Very few choices, a lot of social and economical pressure and voila, even the idea of following your passion would have been perceived as ridiculous, if not downright outrageous.
Historically, the “follow your passion” approach is not very mature. It probably started during romanticism, but back then it was more about sacrificing your current status by fighting for something or someone worth fighting for (being it a crusade, or a woman you loved), and not so much the modern version of it, the ecstatic merging with one’s “deep, true self”.
Follow Your Passion, They Said. It Will Be Fun, They Said
This importance we started to put on individuality, and the meaning we attached to it, started to manifest consistently only in the last century. And it became a dominant trait in the world only 20-30 years ago. That’s very, very recent.
So, why this happened?
Simply put: because we can. Because now it is possible to do something which satisfies your individual taste, if you really want, without too many consequences (at least in the beginning).
Truth to be told, humanity never experienced such amounts of freedom as we started to, in the last century. We have more resources, more time, better health and better technology than anyone in the known universe.
We can do (almost) whatever we want.
But in this ocean of possibilities we started to forget the fact that everything we enjoy right now – being it health, resources, technology – is the result of a collective effort. For every vaccine you took, there were many doctors working in different places of the Earth, for every computer you use, hundreds of thousands of people work separately, on all the continents, and for all the flights you take to Bali, as a digital nomad, there are dozens of thousands of people working, in the air and at the ground, every second.
We are better, as individuals, because we keep getting better as a group.
But, and here we are starting to touch on the article’s topic, this “passion” thing is fundamentally at odds with other people needs.
This is how is defined, anyways: there is something that you do “to pay rent”, to “put food on the table”, and then there is something “you love doing”. And the pressure is more and more towards “what you love doing, as an individual”, at the cost of “whatever it takes to grow the group”.
Curious to read the rest of the article? Especially the part about Do's, Dont's and Detours? Then click here, it will only take you a second. While you are there, feel free to leave me a comment, so I know you came from here.
I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.
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