As a kid who would always hang out at National Bookstore, I’d always see inspirational quotes printed on Hallmark cards and bookmarks. My mom would let me roam around while she lined up at the cashier, and I would zero in on the shelves full of colorful greetings cards and scrapbook items. Most of the bookmarks there had quotable quotes, and I’d memorize them in the hopes of using these ‘nuggets of wisdom’ for my essays in school. One of the quotes that left a mark was printed on a flimsy bookmark which I gave away as Christmas gifts to my classmates:
“Follow your passion; it will lead you to your purpose.” – Oprah Winfrey
Cheesy, right? But it did have a big effect on me. Growing up I believed that I had to find my passion and purpose in order to succeed in life. Early on I thought, when I grow up I’ll make movies. Or music. Or really popular commercials that get played during noontime on TV. My goal evolved when I started going to college. I told myself I’m going to take Advertising, so that someday I get to become a head honcho at an award-winning advertising agency somewhere in Europe. I made sure I studied everything I needed, so I can get straight to my dream job. I felt like advertising was my passion, and my purpose was to make wonderful ads that my family and friends can watch on TV. I believed that’s what I am going to be great at.
Fast forward to present day, I’ve done only about 30% of what I envisioned myself to be. The other 70% is something completely different, and I’ve never imagined I would be doing this. Every day I work on my computer that’s filled with e-mails about digital marketing campaigns, podcast episodes waiting to be checked, and proposals for talent projects waiting to be approved.
Never in my life would I have thought that this is what I do now for a living – trying to slowly build an empire that will, hopefully, someday be worthy of attention. I’d always question myself, “Do you really think this is a good idea?” “My god seriously, how did you have the audacity to start something that you’re not even sure you’re good at?”
I’ve been doing this only for a couple of years and I’ve doubted my credibility so much. My original ‘passion’ is so different from what I do now, that I question myself every day – Is this really something that I want to pursue? If I couldn’t even follow my passion, the one that I have planned for years, how can I find my true purpose?
I sit here on my table, trying to decompress and think about how my day went. It’s the last day of Women’s Month, and I did two recordings today plus a deck that’s due tomorrow. And then it hit me.
All these years, I’ve been doing different kinds of work that has brought me to different places, taught me different skills, and gifted me with different life experiences. I did not exactly follow my passion, but I did follow the waves of life – and it lead me here. I’m now washed up on the shore – a bit frazzled but I’m not choking on sea water anymore. I’m surrounded by like-minded people whose beliefs are aligned with mine, and I get to create opportunities for us to be able to achieve our dreams together. So that we all get to enjoy a relaxing sunset by the beach, clinking our glasses that’s always half-full.
So kids, don’t follow your passion. But instead, let life lead the way. Then when the right moment hits you, that’s when you’ll know – what your purpose is and why life brought you there.