What is a passion? How do we find/pick one?
-- TL;DR: it's not about finding *your* passion, as if there's a right or wrong one to find. it's about finding *a* passion that taps into something deeper about your own development as a person. --
So I created this image last summer - it's nearly every academic discipline studied at a University level.
I can find my passion on this list quickly - music composition. My college degree. But then I remember I applied and was accepted into a degree program as a piano performance major - not composition. Not philosophy. Not psychology or neuroscience. Not behavioral economics or sociology. Not any of these other passions I now have, because they're rooted in my experience as an educator - it was those experiences that shaped my interests, my passions. Specifically, it was my *experiences* that triggered my own personal bio-chemical cocktail, which is where the nature/nurture debate overlaps.
Without an environment where opportunities were afforded me, my experiences would not have triggered that "passion" in music at that infamous age of physical and emotional volatility (aka puberty) where my personal bio-chemical cocktail began to flare up and I sought to find a stasis, or balance, in feelings of both personal accomplishment and social acceptance. Here's the kicker:
It's very possible that different experiences would not have led me to music but to some other discipline. This is based on an idea rooted in the work of Carl Rogers called Self Theory. Essentially, my personality would have (as it still does) allowed me to find passion in any number of topics besides music because it wasn't the music itself, but the experiences I had with that topic - socially through peer/family experiences, as well as emotionally through personal/reflective experiences - that led me to place value in being a musician (as an ideal identity) and begin shaping my self-image toward that ideal. It wasn't until college that I was afforded the opportunity to consider composition as an ideal but it was my experiences at that time that led me to that new passion.
Unfortunately, you can't just place a kid in an environment where they experience a topic and have that become a passion. Their own bio-chemical cocktail will respond to different experiences differently at different times, even the same experience a year apart. But the more you pay attention to their developing personality and preferences, you can make more informed decisions about what opportunities you choose to provide them. There are too many disciplines and topics for any one person to experience. You do have to choose and it might not always be the right choice. Give yourself grace and find joy in the experiences, even if they don't become a passion.
Click Here to explore the interactive list of university topics (or "passions"):