When I woke up this morning, I felt sad. There was an emptiness inside me that I couldn’t quite explain. I’d gone to bed happy, I’d had a good day, I’d had a good few weeks. I had nothing to complain about. In terms of my summer goals, all except for one was going swimmingly. Last week, my Fulbright adviser told me that my essays were amazing and there was nothing more to improve. On Monday, I gave my presentation on the Chinese Cultural Revolution for my Honors Summer Fellowship group. If I may say so myself, I kicked some ass — since I was on set for 13 hours on Sunday filming Transformers 4 (!), I had to finish my Powerpoint hours before my presentation. Yesterday, I met with my Romance Languages thesis advisor and he was extremely pleased with my progress. I think his exact words were, “You’ve already done so much work. Are you sure you want to do more? You really don’t have to.”
So why was I unhappy? As the moody Gemini I am, sometimes I’m struck with the blues for no reason. This morning, though, there was a specific reason. My book. I haven’t given you guys an update for a while because I haven’t received any definitive news. All I can tell you now is that the road to publishing is not going as smoothly as I hoped for. Though my agent is still optimistic, I’m feeling less and less hopeful for the fate of this particular novel. While I’m more experienced with rejection this time around, I also had higher expectations for this book. It was better written, the concept was extremely marketable, and my agent loved it. I just want to scream from the rooftops, “Why the hell won’t anybody publish this damn book?!” The feedback’s been all the same: Rebecca Cao is an extremely talented writer, she has a great future, I loved the concept, but didn’t love the novel as much as I wanted to. Everyone seems to think that I will inevitably be published and have a long and successful career as a writer, but right now that feels so far away.
My point is this: today, I realized once again that — despite what I might tell myself — my writing career matters more to me than the rest of my life put together. Well, I guess I mean my professional life (sorry Mom and Dad). And guess what? This really sucks sometimes. Because I can’t be happy with all the things that are going well because the one thing I want the most isn’t. I know what you want to say. Hello, Rebecca? Stop being such an ungrateful bitch, will you? Appreciate your life more. I know, I know, ‘kay? I’m working on it. Slowly. One thing I’m very grateful for is the fact that I am more certain than ever that I’ve found my life’s passion. So, here is a guide to finding your life’s passion. Let’s hope that yours is kinder to you than mine has been to me.
Steps to Finding Your Life’s Passion
- Take the pressure off. This is an odd first step, but I promise you it works. When you try too hard to find your passion, you take the fun out of everything. It’s very difficult to turn an entertaining hobby into a serious career without making it feel like work. So, just relax and stop overanalyzing your every interest.
- Self-reflect. After taking the pressure off, you should still do some thinking. Ask yourself: throughout your life, has there been one pastime or one academic subject that you’ve always enjoyed? Something you haven’t gotten sick of? Something you always go back to?
- Increase your involvement gradually. The key is to avoid overdoing it at first. For me, I found my first major — Romance Languages — when I decided languages was something I couldn’t get enough of. So, I enrolled in a French class, loved it, and went from there.
- Stick to it. You’re never going to find a “perfect” career where you never have to do anything you dislike. That’s a myth. There’s going to be times that suck and work that bores you or even offends you. This step is the real litmus test to determining whether or not you’ve found the right passion. Do you want to quit when times get hard or do you hunger for success even more?
- Fail. You’re also going to fail. This is part two of the litmus test. Does it break your heart? Good. It should. Do you get back on your feet quickly? Do you handle each failure better and better?
- Succeed. If you’re doing something you really love, then you’re going to work hard. If you work hard, inevitably success will follow. Not every writer can be J.K. Rowling and not every scientist can be Albert Einstein, but everyone can achieve various degrees of success.
- Work harder. If you succeed and stop striving for more, then you were just lucky and you really haven’t found your life’s passion. But if you succeed, and you still want to achieve greater things, you’re on the right track.
- Be flexible. Remember that you can have many different passions in life. Probably not all at once, but don’t be afraid to jump ship once you’ve had enough of one career.
Have you found your life’s passion? If yes, did you always know or did you fall into it? If not, did you find my list helpful?