8 Signs You’ve Stumbled on a Passion
Today marks my 50th post since I fired up my blog earlier this year. *high fives screen* To thank you guys for sticking by me for these past few months, I’m giving you, my loyal readers, a real treat – a guest post from award-winning writer Christie O. Tate, also known as The Outlaw Mama.
Christie and I share a common bond: we bravely left the security and prestige of high-profile careers to find our true passion—the kind of happiness known as eudaimonia, or the fulfillment of our God-given purpose and potential in life. It’s the kind of thing that makes us thrive and makes life worth living. It gives us energy and breathes fire into our souls. But how do we know if we’ve found it? That, my dear readers, is what Christie is here to explain. Take it away, my friend!
In my former life, I had a corporate job at a top-tier law firm, and I would have described myself as “happy enough.” It certainly wasn’t hellish all the time, and there were funny, kind and smart people all around. Of course, the benefits were unbelievable—all that money and there was an in-house gym! The only thing I wished for each year on the associate surveys was “free soda.” (God, I am such a big dreamer.)
But somewhere between the demanding hours, mountains of document review and steely clients, I started to feel restless. I asked that question that plagues many: “Is this it?” I always came back to the generous financial benefits of being an attorney, but I couldn’t pretend to be passionate about them or the work. And you know what? The best lawyers are passionate about some part of the practice. Maybe they are passionate about winning cases or making gobs of money or having power in a firm, but the good ones always cared in ways I never could. In my eight years of practice, I couldn’t find a way to bring my creative and most-alive self into the practice of law.
When my two kids came along, I decided that I would step off the law firm track. I was grateful for my beautiful family and my life, but whither my passion? So there I was: 3O-something years old with a Masters, an amazing career as an attorney, and not a clue in hell as to what the next chapter of my career life entailed. Would I go back to corporate law in a few years when my children got older? I certainly still had suitors. Would I strike out on my own? Or would I do something completely irrational and leave my law career behind (along with the thousands of dollars I spent on law school that I was still paying off) to pursue what really lights my fire?
With a strange rush of urgency, I thumbed through that career advice book, What Color Is Your Parachute?, but got depressed just reading the table of contents. Then, I unearthed my old copy of The Artists Way, and just before chucking it into the Goodwill pile, I read a single paragraph. In that paragraph, the author suggested that readers think about what they liked to play when they were children. “What brought you joy when you were playing?” she asked. All that came to mind at first was licorice and ballet. “Great—should I audition to be the Sugarplum Fairy for this winter’s Nutcracker? Maybe get a job at a candy store?”
Soon, however, the memories started. I remembered an essay I wrote at age 7 about the Beatles and how “they made girls cry they were so good.” I found a diary with furious scribbles of my 12-year-old self. I had saved every journal and essay I had ever written. I was a loyal and industrious pen pal to former teachers and friends who moved away.
Then, I started making time to write every day. I found that a day without writing left me feeling bereft and hollow. I was surrounded by other writers: two friends published books, another was writing a memoir. I looked for writing classes on-line. I started to feel something inside. It’s like someone turned on the lights in a part of me that used to sit in darkness. Then someone turned on the music and I found my dancing feet. I found my passion.
“Oh my god,” I whispered, when it finally dawned on me. Writing. Writing is the thing that stirs my passion. How could I have missed that all along? I was distracted by money and power and the rigid path of a law firm associate, but I didn’t long for money or power (though I admit both are good if you can get ‘em).
One afternoon, I had an hour to myself, which I would usually spend trolling through TJ Maxx or sneaking in a pedicure. But, I didn’t want anything but a quiet place to write. That’s the afternoon that I realized that the passion had come to me (or come back to me) and was pulsing through me. It felt both like an unexpected guest and like an old friend who had been waiting patiently for me to remember she was there.
The passion came. And when she did, she brought a U-Haul with all of her stuff in it and moved into my life in a way that seems permanent. She’s rearranged the furniture for God’s sakes. She came in the middle of the din of my daily life, when I was knee-deep in an overflowing diaper Genie and two young kids who seemed impossibly needy. But, she’s here to stay. So I make room for her every chance I get. We have so much to catch up on and I don’t want to lose another second.
But Christie, how do we know if passion has moved into our life?
Thought you’d never ask, and you know how I hate to give unsolicited advice…
8 Signs You’ve Stumbled on a Passion:
- You find that for the first time since the Reagan administration you missed your 3 p.m. snack because you were engrossed in your passion.
- While engaged in your beloved activity, it’s the only time you can tune it all out: your babies’ whining, the doorbell, the lure of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
- You find yourself daydreaming about your said passion on a regular basis, which is more than you daydream about Ryan Gosling in compromising situations.
- Your spouse or significant other starts to complain that you are ignoring them (because all you can think about is the next chance you’ll get to work on your project).
- On nights when insomnia strikes, instead of cursing the Gods, you find yourself elated for more time to plan your next project.
- After spending time engaged passionately, you find that you feel freer, more joyful, more powerful, and more alive.
- You find that when life hands you lemons, as life sometimes does, you don’t sink as low or for as long because you can lean into and find solace in that activity that has the power to change your whole outlook on life.
- You no longer cringe when you hear about people who love their work so much they would do it for free, because you are one of them.
Have you tapped into your passion? Is it your hobby or your profession? How did you find it? How do you keep it alive?
Christie O. Tate is an award-winning writer and blogger who shares with her readers daily musings of a former-high-powered-attorney-turned-mommy with unparalleled wit, creativity, humor and truth. As a self-proclaimed “outlaw,” Christie is rewriting the rules of life, one blog post, novel and diaper change at a time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also subscribe to her blog at www.outlawmama.com.