I have high school children who are thinking about college. They face two important questions: which college? And what to major? I am addressing the latter issue because well, it’s more important.
As parents, how do we help? A typical answer is - study what you like, whatever interests you, or think about your passion. For the most part, this only baffles them even more.
What is passion? Merriam Webster defines it as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. But do most of us know what our passions are? Do I even have one? I have strong feelings about playing tennis, but it is hardly my passion.
To me passion goes deeper; it is such a strong feeling that we cannot stop thinking it, or doing it. And for many of us, we don’t know what our passion is until later in life. So how can we expect our youths to know?
I believe passion may be developed, discovered, or revealed through hard work. We all have interests but until they are deepened they are just that - interests or call it hobbies. But when interests are strengthened, enhanced by further knowledge it may become a passion.
Think about it, how many people do you know who can definitively declare they knew what their passion is and actually have a career in that field? Do you know any teachers, accountants, project managers, and business owners who love their jobs because they have a passion for it and pursue it, or did they come to love it?
Even for the few who knew or “fell” into their professions at an early age like Mozart, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, and others like them, their careers were most likely dispensed to them from their parents or environment. They were exposed to their craft and encouraged at a very young age and continued to work at it. Is it possible that they “found” their passion because they have been doing it for so long?
Logic dictates that learning results in gained knowledge which produces confidence which encourages even more learning which then leads to increase in ability and then mastery. It is through hard work that leads to expertise which then may — may — become a passion.
For students who don’t know what they will study in college or for that matter, what they want to be when they grow up, I’d say pay attention to your interests and study the hardest discipline you can handle (Math, Science, areas that require critical thinking). Along the way, take courses that you are interested in and expand your knowledge base. You will find a career that will incorporate both your discipline and your interests, and may be through time, even call it passion.
Steve Jobs was interested in calligraphy so he audited a class in college. He later attributed it as being the reason Apple computers had such elegant typefaces. Jobs recalled, “I decided to take a calligraphy class…I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, … It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle…and I found it fascinating… When we were designing the first Macintosh computer, [what I learned in that class] all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.”
So to the students or even life learners - continue your education, expand your knowledge, cultivate your mind, nurture your interests, and most importantly, work hard – you may “find” your passion. If you don’t, at least you can be extremely good at what you are doing - and that in itself is fantastically rewarding.
Van Marosek lives in Lawrenceville with her family. Email her at Jimvanny@gmail.com.