Saturday, May 31, 2014

Passion & Excellence

Some people just seem to be great at whatever they do. Whether it be academics, athletics, the arts, or one of a myriad of other things, it looks as though they effortlessly succeed in whatever they set out to accomplish. (At least that is how it appears from the outside). In high school they were the kid who was the star athlete, in more than one sport none the less, she was everybody's friend, they were the one who earned straight A's in honors classes, or was president of every club around. Or even worse, they were all of the above. They were the kids who had a bevy of acceptance letters to Ivy League universities and graduated with multiple job offers. I'm sure you know the type I am talking about. For the record, as much as I tried, I was not that person.

I have always been good at what I set out to achieve but never the best. In school I got good grades but I worked hard to achieve what always ended up being a second place finish. Despite my best efforts I was a lousy athlete and after a few difficult and discouraging attempts I learned to focus my efforts elsewhere. I gained admission to a good college and worked hard to do well while there but despite my efforts could never achieve the highest honors. Unlike some people who have had a burning desire for a certain profession since they were young, I was all over the map and unsure of what I actually wanted to do "when I grew up". (I still don't know). As a result I graduated with a liberal arts degree, having taken classes in just about every subject matter but being an expert in none of them. This qualified me a mean game of Jeopardy???? Even my graduate degree, which I worked hard for and enjoyed earning, lacked the focus of my graduating peers. Perhaps I am really a generalist at heart since I went on, through hard work, to be moderately successful in each job but those jobs were all over the place.  Whenever I looked for a new job I always found one but they never felt exactly right or what I was looking for. But then again, I'm not sure I even knew what I was looking for. If you ask me what my profession was/is I'm really not sure what to tell you. While others have risen through the ranks and had succinct titles, at various times I've professed to be a writer, researcher, program manager, supervisor, planner, and freelancer.....I've carried all of those titles but what do they really mean?

Personally I have a lot of hobbies that I dabble in but none are what I consider to be a true passion or something that I excel at. I enjoy writing and blog regularly but am nowhere near  what I would consider to be a professional blogger, which is jet another "career" I have contemplated from time to time. (There are people who actually make money doing this but my writing lacks a targeted subject that can draw in a critical mass--and honestly I would have it no other way since my blogging is like me--all over the place). I love to cook but, while it is good it isn't necessarily all that original and certainly isn't going to win a master chef award. Recently I've been exploring the fine arts with photography and water colors. I love these creative activities but simply lack that innate artistic talent that comes naturally to people who consider themselves to be true artists. And if you find yourself stressing over your attempts and working too hard to achieve something that is supposed to be a stress free hobby, is it really worth the effort? And speaking of being stress free, while I enjoy the stretching of yoga, in class my mind simply wanders and I rarely leave feeling relaxed. Really, I am all over the place.

Recently I've been finding myself wondering what I would do if I could do it all over again. Can you request a "do over" for life as an adult? A time to reset and do those things that they have always wanted to do. I know some people who have done just that and succeeded. I think I am too much of a conformist and afraid of the risks to take that jump. And honestly, I don't know what I would do or where I would even begin. As I look around I see people who by outwardly appearances seem successful in their endeavors and have a real passion for some aspect of their life. Me? I feel like I work hard to achieve what I have but don't stand out in any way.

Do I have a passion? Something that comes so naturally to me? I love a lot of things and like even more but can't find a single thing to focus on. Perhaps that is why I was a liberal arts major and learned a little about a lot of things. I am a great conversationalist at cocktail parties since chances are I know at least a little bit about whatever subject comes up. Hey wait, maybe I need to be a professional attendee on the cocktail party circuit? But seriously.... I would love to have a single activity that I am passionate about but somehow I feel that working too hard to find the activity actually defeats the purpose. At the moment  I can only dream about finding an activity that comes easy to me and I enjoy participating in. I'm looking and I will keep looking. In the meantime, invite me to your party; I promise to keep the conversation flowing.

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