What’s my passion in the first place?

If you remember Mike's story, he had a fantastic focus and passion for writing. But other students, maybe even you (don’t worry if this is you!) feel relatively uncertain about their true interests and passions.

There are lots of good ways to solve this problem, and here’s one way to start. My colleagues, Moses Lee and Matt Gibson, Founders of Distinguish Me, have a wonderful set of questions they give to students in coming up with an idea for the first time. They are:

  • What do you enjoy searching, learning, reading, or talking about?
  • What piques your interest every time it’s mentioned?
  • What do your friends say you are passionate about?
  • What do your parents or other adults say you are passionate about?
  • Who are some people you admire and why?

Answer these questions for yourself and you will be well on your way to finding your initial passion or interest for further exploration.

But what if you can’t commit to one passion or interest? You say to me, “Dr. Legatt, I’m interested in too many things, I simply can’t choose!”

To that, I say that the first passion or interest chosen is not a final destination, a life sentence, a ball and chain. Diving in more deeply to one of your passions is simply the window or the first step through which you develop your leadership skills, refine your focus, and (corny as it sounds) grow as a person.

So let’s say you start out with a passion or interest in playing the flute. You’ve been playing the flute since you were 9, and practice about 1 hour per day on the weekdays. Why do you love the flute, I would ask? Is it the discipline it provides, the sound it makes, the way it blends with other instruments, the kind of pieces that you play?

You say, I love playing the flute because it allows me to feel like I’m creating a fairytale. I can completely let go of my worries when I play, and I come up with great ideas on other things while I’m playing.

I say, great! Tell me more about that fairytale.

Then, maybe you tell me a story about a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a princess. It really doesn’t matter what the story is. But you have a love of stories, and that’s a good clue as to what to do next.

Here are a number of ideas you could generate from this scenario to build on your experience playing the flute:

  • Play pro-bono concerts for retirement communities or orphanages and interact with the underserved people in these communities
  • Organize a storytelling or “story slam” instrumental performance event; donate the proceeds to charity
    Start your own wind ensemble where the players dress up in renaissance costumes and play at special events
  • Fill in the blank with your idea!

In summary, the idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be big enough to allow you to take action and it has to be related to something you already have an interest in.

So if someone tells you to join the robotics team because it looks good for college (even though you can’t even put in a watch battery - do those still exist?), what will you say? Hint: Some variation of “no, thank you.”

Reply and tell me: Do you have a passion or interest that’s obvious? If yes, what is it? If not, what’s an interest that you want to explore more deeply as your window to developing yourself as a competitive college applicant?

I look forward to hearing from you. Until next time…

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