This is the age of personal development. Self-help. Self-love. There are countless books and magazines dedicated to the movement. Documentaries. Netflix series. Even the internet is inundated with quotes and memes. Personally, I’m all for it.
I’m a self-diagnosed addict when it comes to continually bettering myself — there will always be room for improvement. After decades of not believing I was worthy or good enough, I’ve finally discovered self-love and self-worth. I’m always striving to become the best version of myself and live my best life.
But what I tend to forget amidst all of this learning, is doing the actual living part. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
We put on the blinders and become so hell-bent on reaching the ultimate destination, that we forget to enjoy the ride. And that journey? Well, that’s the part where you live. That’s the now part. The destination, or ‘goal’, being something that you’re striving for, puts it by default in the future category. And the future — any future — we all know is uncertain. The only certainty we have is this every moment — this very breath you’re taking right now. So breathe deeply.
I’ve read books and articles that promote and encourage following your heart and doing what you love — doing what you’re passionate about. Those books and articles never fail to light me up. They set my soul on fire and make me want to stand on the table, pumping my fist in the air while roaring with my cape flying behind me like on a Wonder Woman movie poster.
But what if you suck at what you love?
I’ve also read articles emphasizing the opposite: “Don’t follow your heart, use your head instead.” “Don’t do what you’re passionate about, passion blinds you to reality.” “Don’t fall into the rah-rah trap of self-delusion, thinking you can live your dream-life doing what you love just because you love it.” “Be a realist, this is real life, not Narnia.”
Those articles make me step down from the table in quiet defeat and turn my roar into a whisper. The ‘realist rain’ pours down on me and turns the fire to a fizzle, and leaves me with a dripping cape.
Finding a middle ground
There has to be a happy medium. Yes, we all have bills to pay to keep the wolves away. We all have that pesky habit of eating, and nobody wants to see us walking around flaunting that birthday suit.
So what happens, then? What happens if you’re really bad at the one thing you truly love? Should you simply give it all up and fall back in line with the lemmings?
I say no. I say hell no.
We have this one life — this one chance at living it and enjoying it, and loving it. So live it and enjoy it, and love it! Be a rebel, but make sure you’ve got a cause.
But. Yes, there’s a ‘but’.
If what you love — be it writing, acting, singing, building or inventing, or anything else you’re into — is not something you’re good at (yet), then you need to also be sensible. Don’t be the starving artist. It’s not cute.
Sometimes we have to do things we’re not in love with in order to survive. Food costs money. So does electricity.
It comes down to compromise. Keep doing what you love — nobody can take that away from you (as long as it’s legal, don’t be a creep!). But also be sensible and do what you need to do to pay the bills and be a self-sustained human. Adulting is hard, I get it. I know. Most days I don’t want to either. Welcome to life.
But remember, as important as it is to be sensible, it’s equally important to have passion. To have dreams and goals, and something you truly love.
I love to write. I’m passionate about it, even. It’s something I’ve loved since I was a child. But I’m no expert — I’m nowhere near! Does that mean I’m going to give it up? Again, I say hell no! I know I’m not at a level (right now) where I can count on it to make a living. But that doesn’t mean I won’t get there with a lot of perseverance and practice, and patience. Lots and lots of patience.
Don’t go through life trudging along miserably because someone told you you’re not good at something. If it’s something that can be learned, improved with time and practice and dedication, go for it! If it makes you happy, do it! Be okay with falling on your face a time or two, or a hundred. Give yourself some grace. Okay, a lot of grace.
Just make sure you’re also being responsible — as boring as that may be.
Learn and practice and grow in what you love and maybe you one day you’ll be among the ones we call lucky. You’ll be in a place where you no longer have to choose between what you love and what you’re good at because they’ll be one and the same.
Don’t let anyone knock you down from the table. Wear that cape proudly even if it’s sometimes a little bit wrinkly. Me? I’m going to keep on writing, even if some days I suck at it.
We should all have something that lights our soul on fire and makes our heart sing. Because what’s life if there’s no happy?
We should all have a passion that makes us roar and fist-pump the air.
Just don’t lose your shirt in the process.