“Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession.”- Gabrielle Bernstein
What is the difference between passion and profession? Can they not be the same? Shouldn’t they be? This question mystified me as I was growing up. Why doesn’t everyone pursue their passion as their field of study or work? It seemed an obvious choice to make. As I grew older and wiser (possibly), I realized that one does not always have a choice in the matter.
What could be the reason for deviating from your passion? For not pursuing what you love to do? For not pursuing the field that you know you are better than most at? For most working people, the inability to market their skills is the biggest cause for abandoning their passion in favor of a well paying, but perhaps menial or disliked profession. For many, the need for steady and sure flow of income to support their family prevents them from pursuing the things they would love to do. This is often the case in poorer families.
The very popular scenario of parents advising their children to follow a career in either Engineering or Medicine in India has been brought to fore by strong activism, and popular films such as Rajkumar Hirani’s “3 Idiots.” This creates intense pressure in the minds of students, who are pressurized to earn money and support their families by doing work that they don’t like, and in many cases hate doing. Some are even driven to suicide due to their inability to confront their elders and peers, which has been shown in detail in the movie. Sharing this message through the medium of popular film has helped alleviate this issue by educating students and parents alike, many of whom are unaware of each others’ feelings.
A lack of learning support has also hindered many from pursuing their dreams. However, in this day and age, the sheer volume of information one can access is immensurable. Since its inception in 1990, the World Wide Web has grown to store 4 zettabytes of data by the year 2013. This wasn’t possible even 10 or 15 years ago. Thus, a lack of information is not an excuse for not learning and growing in the field that you are passionate about.
Another major cause for abandoning passion in favor of profession is insecurity. Often times, to follow our passions, we must step out of our comfort zones, and explore entirely new, and frightening possibilities. In 2010, Swedish student Felix Kjellberg had managed to obtain admission into the Industrial Economics Course at Chalmers University, one of the best universities in the world in that field. However, his passion was gaming. Within a year, he had quit and was selling hot dogs on the roadside in order to support his passion of creating gaming videos. Fast forward 5 years, and Felix’s YouTube channel ‘PewDiePie’ is the most subscribed channel on YouTube, with 44 million subscribers and twelve billion channel views. He was also reported to earn $12 million in 2015, according to a Forbes Report. Felix sold paintings he had created in Photoshop for design practice to buy a laptop and recording gear to support his passion. He fought tooth and nail to do what he loved, and even more importantly found a way to market those skills, and share his passion with the world.
Would all of us make the same choice in his situation? The answer is most likely not. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. It is always good to have a degree. Finish your degree and then pursue whatever you want.” These are all things that every young and fresh high school graduate has heard at one point in his life. And sadly, most follow career paths that have been chosen for them, and not by them. In many cases this is also because they are unsure of their passions. Due to uncertainty in what one’s passion is, one follows the given advice for lack of a better option, even if one knows this is not what one wants to do.
But does it always have to be a matter of passion versus profession? Can they not go hand in hand? This requires strong dedication to your field of interest, as well as courage, intelligence, and perseverance. One’s passion is uncompromising, and yet we often compromise on pursuing our passion for the sake of money or security. Did the world’s leaders compromise on their passions? Steve Jobs didn’t. Bill Gates didn’t. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t. Jack Ma didn’t. So why should you?