what to do when you can’t decide

If there has been any singular problem I have encountered in my life, it is that I have so many different things I am interested in.

Traveling overseas. Studying all types of history. Studying criminal justice. Honing my photography skills. Writing almost anything. Graphic design.

You name it, I have wanted to try it or expressed some interest in learning about it. Growing up, this insatiable curiosity led me to be willing to try things. I played a few seasons of soccer because I thought I wanted to push myself to play professionally. At some point midway through my last season, I realized that while I enjoyed the game, it wasn’t my passion. That was the first time the idea of following my passion crossed my mind.

Passion is defined as “a very strong feeling of love, hate, anger, enthusiasm, etc.” Much of our worldview and understanding of what growing up looks like is built on the idea that following our passion will lead to success. Students in high school are pushed to pick a path for their four years in college that will support them for the rest of their lives. Students in college are pressured to continue into graduate school despite rising costs that they face in loan debt, textbooks, cost of living, and so on.

It seems as if having a singular passion will lead to success no matter how you frame it. So what is one to do when they find themselves deeply passionate about multiple things?

This was my fear, to be stuck in a lane I hated just because of a momentary joy in the subject. Coming out of high school I decided that I wanted to explore fine arts. I liked painting, photography and drawing, and I figured that I could just breeze through that Associates in Fine Arts and be on my way in life.

I could not have been more wrong.

The only class I truly enjoyed during my short tenure in fine arts was Art History because of my love of all things not from my time. Ultimately, I decided to step away roughly a year before I would’ve graduated. The head of the arts program even encouraged me not to quit because I showed some affinity for the subjects and because getting back into school was hard after a break. I thanked him for his concern and took my step back regardless. It was the best choice I could have made for my future.

I worked full time for two years before finally deciding to go back to school. In that time I traveled to six different countries, five of which I visited on a month-long escapade in Europe. Those journeys showed me other cultures and reinforced my love of history, one of the subjects I chose to study in my new college career. The option of a General Studies/Interdisciplinary Degree provided me with the chance to study various interests. Criminal Justice and Literature were two other subjects I chose to focus on in my studies, and each have provided me valuable understandings with how life moves beyond my normal scope of interaction.

What I learned throughout the struggle of finding my passion was that it didn’t have to be singular. I could love a myriad of things and still go to school. I could work different jobs to provide myself the chance to experience a new work place and see what I did and did not like. I began to understand that while loyalty in a field of work is of value, I was also not wholly bound to one thing. When I felt the time was right, I could leave. Or, some cataclysmic event could force me back to my roots and cause the loss of a job I was only in for the money. The money will never satisfy you, that much I know for sure.

So. What do you do when you can’t decide on what you want to do?

You take a deep breath, you test the waters and you don’t fear the possibilities in front of you. When you can’t decide, you simply try.

Do you relate to the frustration of following your passion? Subscribe to the email list for more discussions on what makes up the lives we’re living.

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