Sunday, September 21, 2014

Passions & Pursuits

This past year has been one of realizations and regrets. I have learned much and leaned hard. I've had days where my sole prayer was, "God, help me to get through one more day at this job." My heart is heavy with hard-learned wisdom that I wish someone had shared with me five years ago. That wisdom is this. Before you venture into the world, know the difference between interests, hobbies, skills, and passions, and know how to apply that knowledge.

Interest - something fascinating that peaks your interest. Something you would like to learn/know more about.

Hobby - something you enjoy doing. Something you would like to get better at.

Skill - natural or acquired talents. Something you derive satisfaction from doing.

Passion - something so engrossing it makes you forget or forego sleep/food. Something that despite occasional burnouts you always return to.

Imagine these terms as different stages in a plant life cycle.

The natural life cycle of Passions and Pursuits starts with a seed of interest. Interest flowers into a hobby. A hobby grows into a skill. A skill, well-cultivated, can produce a harvest of passion. Not all interests get past seeds. Not all hobbies flower. Not all skills produce a harvest. Some people spend their whole lives planting and re-planting in hopes of reaping that elusive fruit: Passion.

Gardening is sometimes painful work. At times it is necessary to rip ripening buds to ensure the plant puts all of its energy into one glorious blossom. Ask yourself tough questions. What am I truly skilled at? What is there a demand for? Can I make a living doing this? Is this something I can envision myself doing 8 hrs/day, 40 hrs/wk for the next 40 years of my life? If you cannot answer these questions honestly, then it is best to permanently relegate the subject in question to interest/hobby status.

Once you have labeled and compartmentalized your varying areas of interest and expertise, you must then apply them to reality.

General knowledge (cheap knowledge) - knowledge that is easily-acquired and widely-possessed.

Specialized knowledge (expensive knowledge) - knowledge that is hard-earned and only a few possess.

Supply - the amount of an available commodity on the market.

Demand - the quantitative need of a specific commodity on the market.

Picture a funnel. At the top of the funnel is general knowledge. (E.g. your art, history, psychology, philosophy, interior design, FACS, theology, music, literature, and communications majors.) At the bottom is specialized knowledge. (E.g. your engineering, architecture, physics, chemistry, medicine, nursing, teaching, linguistics, law, and business majors.) In modern society there will almost always be a demand for specialized knowledge. Needs determine demand. What will modern humanity always have a need for? Food. Shelter. Medicine. A source of power/electricity. Education. Law. Technology. Let these demands shape the way you approach reality.

If your skills/passions do not align with society's demands, ask yourself this. Are you a genius? Can you become one? Are you willing to work one or multiple minimum-wage, entry-level jobs in order to support your hobby/passion? If not, combine your skill of choice with a position that is in demand (e.g. education).

Now that you have labeled and compartmentalized your skill set, applied them to reality, and asked yourself some tough questions, I will leave you with a few words of wisdom.

Never assume. If you are a young woman, don't assume you will get married and be a stay-at-home mom like I did. (Unless you have the gift of prophecy and God has given you a vision of yourself clothed in white walking down a church aisle.) Don't assume you will get hired for that "dream job" on the first try.

Be humble. If it is an area you have a passion for, be willing to take something lower and work your way up. Sacrifice your sense of entitlement, swallow your pride, and thank God for providing a source of income, however menial the work.

Be punctual. Communicate well. Show courtesy. Work hard. Confess your mistakes, learn from them, and commit to do better. Integrity will not go unnoticed forever.

Pray hard. Lean hard. There will be days when all you can say is, "Jesus, help me get through one more day." Fix your eyes on Christ and keep plugging, one day at a time.


Diwakar said...

Hello Catherine. So good to know you through your profile on the blogger. I am also glad to stop by your blog " Simplicity of the Soul" and the post on it "Passion and Pursuits". Very thoughtful sharing and exhortation and at the concultion the challenge to Pray hard, Learn hard and fix your eyes on Christ and keep plugging, one day at a time. I am blessed to know you and go thorugh your post. Well let me share with you about the project our church in Mumbai, India has for the young people as well as adults from the West. I am in the PASTORAL MINISTRY for last 35yrs in the great cityof Mumbai a city with great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing tot he broken hearted. We also encourage young people as well as adults from the West to come to MUUMBAI on a short/ long term missions trip to work with us in the slums of Mumbai during their vaction time. We would love to have you come with your friends to work with us in the slums of Mumbai during your vacation time. I am sure you will have a life changing experience. Looking forward to hear from you. My email dis is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar wankhede.