Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Does It Matter If You Don't Find Your True Passion?
I'm sure you are all familiar with the almost "norm" of most people disliking their job. And as someone who was exposed to this concept from a young age (whether in the form of movies, memes, or her own parents), it soon became one of my biggest fears. What if I spend my entire adult life being stuck in a dead-end job, where my only motivation was money or the thought of going home?
I am extremely fortunate that my parents allowed me to carve my own career paths. This freedom of choice which unfortunately led to my aforementioned "fear" got me enthused to "find my passion" (like many 20-year-olds do). My ikigai. People who are passionate about their jobs would love their job, right? I was pursuing my BTech in Computer Engineering at that time. So of course my first thought was, am I passionate about this? And I wondered, yeah I'm decently passionate about this, I'm fairly skilled at it. But is that enough? Shouldn't my true passion consume me, as it does with Roger Federer and Tennis, or Lata Mangeshkar and Singing? And more than anything else, should it not be obvious that I am pursuing my true passion? If it's not obvious, perhaps this isn't it. And this thought also made me switch out of engineering, to find my "true passion".
Many months later, here I am, still pursuing Computer Engineering, and ready to start my job in 2 weeks. And I'm excited. What changed? Let me tell you.
Now bear with me, when I call this "my theory", I'm sure someone has stumbled upon it before, or even documented it. Perhaps you've subconsciously/consciously thought of this too. But allow me to put it formally. I believe that most average people (like me) have a pyramid of skills.
At the top of the pyramid, or the tip of the pyramid lies our true passion, our ikigai. The one thing that we are (theoretically) the best at. The next segment is the skills we're adept at, followed by skills we're more or less average, and then lastly, skills that you probably shouldn't be making a career out of, haha. Now of course, for each person the thresholds for each level vary largely, and a super-smart kid may have something akin to an inverted triangle!
We all chase for the top of the pyramid, and some of us are really lucky. But probabilistically speaking, it is almost ridiculous that we would find it, and most of us just never stumble upon it. (Musing: for all you know, your ikigai may not even have been invented! Imagine if Sachin Tendulkar had been alive before cricket was invented or even popularized) Coming to the skills we are good at, we probably have more than one of these and we could make a good career in any one of them. Usually, we pick one of them and often have a "road not traveled" phenomenon with the rest of the skills in this range. Personally, I always wondered if I should have taken up a career in finance. But the thing to remember is that there is usually a very minute difference between the skill set you possess in this range and offsetting this difference is far more in our control than we realize.
To offset the difference, we simply need to work hard, wherever we are currently at. It is honestly that simple. You could be making a career out of something you're good at, but if you don't work hard for it, you don't really slog for it, you're going to see someone who is very averagely skilled beat you. And sure, you might make yourself feel better by winning short fights with this average person and tell yourself, "I don't need to work as hard because I'm smarter". But in the long run, you will lose, I promise you. And this seems so obvious now that I type it out, but once this realization sunk in (and I don't mean I just read this somewhere and oh wow I am a changed person now), once I really mused it over, it practically changed my life.
To wrap it all up, finding a passion is all nice and all. But unless you're willing to work your head off for something, and I mean really ready to do it, not just abstractly say "Ya bro, I'm totally gonna study hard for this", it's pointless to search for your passion. One might argue that once you find your passion it'll be easy to put in the hard work. Maybe to some extent, but there are still gonna be days when you don't want to do it. Your discipline and your hard work get you far further in life than just constantly searching for your passion.