What Happens When You Publicize Your Passion?

This is the blog post to accompany the roundtable discussion on this topic at the Mom 2.0 Conference in New Orleans on April 13, 2011.

Your passion is the thing that gets your pulse going. The thing that you could work on – if you wanted to call it work – all day without tiring of it. The thing that, when you speak of it to others, you find your words tumbling out over one another because you have so much you want to say. Perhaps thinking about it gets you jazzed, pumped up, ready to burst; perhaps it puts you in a calm, beautiful state of mind.  Perhaps it does something completely different. The point is, you know what your passion is. And now, you want to start sharing it with others. Maybe you’re starting a blog. Maybe you’re starting a business. What might happen, once you start publicizing your passion? Here’s a few of the things I encountered when I started publicizing mine.

You’re putting your baby out in to the real world.
Your passion is very often the act or practice or belief or person that is closest to your heart. You have spent significant time thinking about it, talking about it, evangelizing it, defending it, developing it. Sharing that passion with others can be daunting, because it feels like you’re putting your own vulnerable child out there in the big bad world. How will the world respond?  Will it cherish and treat it gently and passionately as you do, or will the world be tough and mean and callous? Worry not. Most of the time, the world is a lovely and welcoming place. And even when you encounter the tough or the mean or the callous, approach it with an open heart:  take constructive criticism for what it’s worth – feedback to spur your growth and development of your passion – and discard anything that obviously comes from a place of cruelty or unkindness. (You’ll be able to tell the difference.)

You’re putting a piece of yourself on display.
Publicizing something that is your passion may be one of the truest forms of self-expression there is. While many people may feel passionate about the same subject as you do, only you have  your unique view on it, your unique lens. Remember that only you see the world through your eyes. There is vulnerability in this, but also ringing, clear beauty.

You’re pouring your heart and soul in to your Something, growing it from a seed in to a reality.
I saw a quote on a Starbucks cup once. The quote, paraphrased, said: It is a terrible fate to be good at the wrong thing. If you’re good at the wrong thing, the combination of praise and rewards can trap you in it for life. And perhaps this is true for too many of us: we pursued paths that didn’t light us on fire, but that promised a career path, a paycheque, stability, a day we maybe didn’t hate but that we didn’t love either.  Our jobs were jobs: Work. By taking your passion and exposing it to others, does that turn your passion in to work? Certainly, you may be creating commitments for yourself around your passion – but if it’s your passion that you’re working on, can you classify it as work?

You’re pushing yourself and pushing others. You’re showing feelings and experiences you may not have expected – that nobody expected. You’re pushing borders and boundaries inside of you and everyone else.  You are showing real life.
Passion isn’t clean. It isn’t obedient. It doesn’t follow paths or procedures. It doesn’t get submitted for review or ask for signoff.   The real world might want everything to fit in to neat, orderly lines, but your passion doesn’t do that. You may have to take risks. You may have to take precautions. You will have to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your boundaries. You may have to apologize. You may have to reassess whether you want to be doing this at all. And then you will keep doing it.

You’re creating a record of your passions at one moment in time or across a span of months or years.
When I was a little girl, my mother always tried to get me to start a diary. I was never very good at it; I spent most of my time crafting long, flowery passages in my head rather than penning the everyday on to paper. When you start to publicize your passion, it leaves a record of that reflection of your personality at a point in time: One moment, or ten thousand moments.  Imagine in a year or twenty years, being able to go back and see the expression of what was burning in your gut every day. The gift is priceless, not only to yourself but for so many others. It’s a record of how far you’ve come, how far you’ve grown.

You’re finding a community of people with whom you will share your passion and your heart, with whom you will grow and learn.
Just as you probably have seen the sites or books or other embodiments of people’s passions, so too will people find yours. And when this happens, when you create or join a community based around your passion, you learn from each other and spur each other on and find out new things and explore new avenues you may never have seen.

You’re realizing you need to ask for help.
You may know your passion inside out, but you don’t know how to build a website, or how to set up an online store, or what SEO even means. That’s OK. Because out there, there is someone whose passion is just that. Reach out to your community or other resources and get the help you need, if you need it, so that you can focus on doing what you do best, what you care about most.

You’re finding an idol.  And becoming one.

What is your passion? If you’re here, you probably already know that. But if you don’t, or if you want to hone it, there’s an excellent guide at zenhabits.net called The Short But Powerful Guide To Finding Your Passion.There’s also an excellent section on Meaning and Passion on the TinyBuddha.com website.

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