On Passion & Being (Extra)ordinary

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


I recently had a conversation with a friend about passion, in the sense of feeling passionate about doing certain things.

"I can't really make myself less boring if I have no passions," she said.

She recalled a conversation she had with her grandma, who wondered, "What is passion and how does someone find one? Is it even really possible?" The two of them agreed that it wasn't. You couldn't just go out and "find" a passion. Instead, passion was something inherent to you, something rooted in you.

If you ask me? I disagree. I don't think you're either born with a passion or you're not, and that if you don't have an innate passion for something now, you never will. That's depressing. Passions stem from interests, and your interests evolve.

(Though they do have a point – you can't go out and find passion. It finds you.)

The trouble, to me, is that passion seems to have a reputation of manifesting itself only through one single outlet. A person can have one key passion, which often serves as their identifier. The Car Guy. The Dog Lover. The Traveler. On the other hand, if their enthusiasm has numerous outlets, one alone doesn't stick out and it's interpreted as them actually having no passions at all.

That's how it feels for me. My interests are very widespread. I'm into fitness and exercise, I love the outdoors, I read often, I'm a dog person, I run a blog. I enjoy a lot of things, and it's fun except for the times where I feel like it leaves me with no "key" quality.

Putting our energy into a handful of interests only seems to be praise-worthy if it brings us money or fame. When a celebrity of sorts excels in several fields, they're a jack-of-all-trades. Multi-talented! For people like me, we can be viewed as indecisive or boring.

This is one aspect that leaves me feeling ordinary. Bland.

Another is comparison. We all know it's bad, but sometimes we just can't help it.

Lately I've been watching vlogs pretty regularly, which usually involve someone going out and doing more interesting things than I'm doing. Their "day in the life"-type videos trump mine every time. Their dullest day is likely the equivalent of an average day for me.

When watching videos like that, it either motivates me in a weird way to go out and do more, or inadequacy can creep in, thoughts like, Wow, there's all of these people out doing such cool things, and I'm not doing anything. Somehow, a separate person living their separate life can put my happiness in question. I WAS enjoying my Netflix night in, but now I'm not so sure...

The truth, though, is that these YouTube stars don't represent "everyone." There are so many more people – "regular" people, if you will – doing exactly what I'm doing: going to work 9-5, going to the gym (maybe), and heading home to relax for a couple of hours before it's time to go to bed and do it all over again the next day. And that's okay. If I'm happy with my life, and I have a healthy time-to-myself/time-with-others balance, it doesn't matter what other people on the Internet are doing.

(It's also good to note that there is more to YouTubers' lives than what we are seeing anyway. We're never seeing everything. We all have couch potato moments, we all have bad days. We're all similar in that sense. We're human.)

So in times where I'm feeling like I don't have that "identifier" that makes me stand out from the rest, or times where I feel overly ordinary, I have to remind myself that "ordinary" is not synonymous with "boring."

It's okay to be ordinary.

But I also want to put that word in quotation marks, because who's to say what "ordinary" really means anyway? What's commonplace for one person isn't for someone else. It's all subjective.

Besides, in reality, we probably aren't as ordinary as we think we are anyway. Because the type of person we are, the type of life we live, is not solely defined by the places we see or the things we do; it's also defined by who we are. Our personality can be the thing that sets us apart. Our personality can be our identifier. It can make our ordinary lives extraordinary, just by touching others in a kind and inspirational way.

Plus, as Pam Beesly said in the final episode of The Office (which I may or may not have sobbed to two nights ago...), "There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?"


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