KellyOpinion1Find where your interests and your passions intersect, and go for it without fear of failure or judgment

We always hear that passions are our greatest love and throughout our lives we should chase them. Yes, progress is everyone’s business but I question the uplifting message being brought upon our youth, that our following our passions will lead to an individual’s greatest happiness. What really matters? Can we redefine what a good life or even job means? Is following one’s passion a privilege to only some in modern society?

In order to use the terms successfully, we need to understand how passions and interests are defined. A passion is something you cannot really live without and it fuels or directs one’s lifestyle. An interest on the other hand is more of a curiosity to learn more about something. Passions may derive from a prolonged interest or arise from experience alone. Over time, however, our interests change and so do our passions. The key is finding ways your passions and interests can intertwine.

Following one’s passion can be risky. It leads us to make bold choices by running into the unknown. When chasing the dream, many risk financial stability which may prohibit the pursuit of one’s passion. Typically as students, we may find following our passions more feasible, as we have fewer responsibilities and commitments in life compared to someone who has kids and needs to provide for them. Focusing strictly on “surviving”, however, may lead us to sell ourselves short and avert from chasing our inner passions. Being passionate toward a subject doesn’t necessarily mean we have to dedicate our lives to it. An individual may have a fulfilling and financially satisfying job, but when free time permits have time to act on their passions.

Perhaps then, we need to reevaluate what a “good job” is. To me, a great career meets all my values, goals, needs, and makes use of my talents. I realize, that I may not enjoy every aspect, but overall I’ll find my work fulfilling. If my passion ends up being my work, then I’m one lucky guy. I hope, however, that it won’t extinguish my passion, as excessiveness often does.

I’ll admit though, that I’m disturbed when people make others feel guilty for not following their passions and make claims that they won’t be truly successful or happy. I often ask myself what defines and how we measure success and happiness. In reality we can’t measure these sorts of things, as they vary amongst every individual. Simply, there is not a universal key or recipe for success and happiness although in our society we tend to measure it based on GDP. It is important to realize this and keep an open mind as well as appreciate others’ decisions in pursuing passions throughout life. Not everyone is going to match your own and we can’t always put a monetary value on everything.

Remember, being ecstatic about a subject only gets an individual so far. We have to also be able to fully carry out a jobs responsibility and do it well repeatedly.
It is important to couple your passions with your talents and stay true to your own capabilities. Basically, know what you excel at and work toward pursuing it. As individuals, however, we are complex. Our skills and aspirations have more than one dimension. Each one of us is more than what appears on the surface and we all have something to bring to the table. Passions and interests take time though, and we shouldn’t feel discouraged for not making a career out of our passions or for not even finding one’s passion yet.

In the pursuit of finding oneself and planning for the future, reflection can be a powerful tool to assess one’s well being. Don’t be discouraged while on the journey and use your resources on campus or throughout the community if needed. As the end of the school year approaches, keep striving to do your best and remember you are more than a letter grade. Perhaps over the summer, you’ll find your calling and become engaged in pursuing it. We are complex individuals that are living in a multifaceted society of even greater dimensions than we will ever understand. Continue to live a good life and actively strive to partake in your interests as well as your passions.

Kelly T. Knutson

Kelly T. Knutson 15' is an opinion columnist for the Concordia who focuses on environmental awareness / concerns in his entries. Originally from the upland prairies of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kelly recently transplanted to Bemidji where he calls the conifer forests of Minnesota his home. Being ecologically literate and knowing his roots comes at high importance to Kelly. In his spare time he enjoys being immersed as well as fascinated by nature through hiking, birdwatching, mushroom foraging, camping etc. At Concordia he is involved with Sea - Student Environmental Alliance, Concordia Chapel Choir, Eco-Reps as the Coordinator, 2014 Sustainability Symposium planning committee, coordinating the 2014 HILT High Impact Leadership Trip for spring break, and a Lab TA for the Biology department.

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