Here’s a well-known fact about me: I have had LOTS of interests in my life. Discovering my passion did not feel like a sack of bricks hitting me in the head, either. Science, teaching, sales, entrepreneurship, meal planning, and writing have all been “new endeavors” at one point or another. But, having THAT many passions DOES beg the question: are those really “passions”? I imagine a true passion would be one that sticks with me most of my life, right? Or….could I have lots of interests under a little mushroom umbrella of my larger passion? Maybe?
At age 41, I’ve finally discovered my passion.
Here it is: I am passionate about challenges. I love learning new skills. I’m that weirdo who LOVES change. When my husband and I started dating, I chronicled how I had made some significant changes in my life every two years. Unfortunately, that wasn’t totally reassuring to him as we started deepening our relationship until I clarified that these two-year cycles pertained to my work interests, not my relationships.
Here’s what that two-year cycle looks like in real time. After college, I went to graduate school for two years in Richmond to study ecological genetics, then picked up and moved to Miami for two more years of schooling before realizing I wanted to work as a teacher. Two years later, I was ready for the next challenge and moved on to sales. I stuck with that company for almost ten years. It was a longer-than-normal stint for me, but every two years I either had new products or a new territory. Hmmmm….the pattern is unmistakable.
Then, I gave it all up to stay home with my kiddos and start my own business. Another new challenge. And, after being at home two years, I’ve pivoted my business a bit. So, there’s really no way to explain this other than acknowledging that I thrive on new experiences.
For a long while, I’ve struggled to own up to the fact that I need newness in my life on a regular basis.
In life, we’re so conditioned to figure out “what we want to do when we grow up.” And, honestly, that’s a tough question for those of us who kind of want to do a little of everything. Discovering my passion was never really clear-cut. But, once I learned to acknowledge that being in environments that challenge me and allow me to learn new skills is critical to my being “whole,” I’ve been better able to decide where to spend my energy.
But, beyond challenges, what fuels my soul?
Because, chasing the next new challenge could get awfully exhausting and, at some point, might start to feel like running on a hamster wheel. Well, the things that fuel my soul are the interests that I’ve had over the years, particularly science and teaching. And, as I’ve gotten older, my “mission” has become much clearer.
When I gave birth to my daughter, I legitimately felt like another world had opened up to me. I distinctly remember feeling like I had just joined this club that I had never even known existed. I had plenty of friends with kids, but instantly, and without speaking to ANY of them, I felt worlds closer. It was like I had learned something about them and their lives that was previously unknown to me.
Once I gained some time under my belt as a mom, I realized that the mission that fuels my soul is connecting moms.
Why? Because I know that when mamas connect with each other, our lives are simpler and richer. Sometimes our lives become “simpler” because that mom of an older kid tells us which baseball league to join. Or, the mom that rocks meal planning tells the mom who’s struggling to feed her one-income family to go to Fresh Market on Tuesdays for $2.99/lb chicken breasts (true story).
Our lives become richer because knowing that other women are walking alongside us helps cut down on the noise floating around in our heads, helps us empty the guilt wagon that inevitably plagues us, and allows us to listen to that voice that keeps whispering that we are doing so.many.things right. Luckily, through seven years of motherhood, I’ve experienced all of these things, but only through connecting with other moms. And, I want to help other moms build their village, plain and simple.
So, knowing that I love learning new things and that my (current) mission is connecting moms, how do I focus long enough to achieve success? Shockingly, I go with my gut. Recently, a friend offered me an opportunity to dig deeper into a local community of moms. It was new. It would take up some time that I don’t totally have available to me. But, it would give me an opportunity to connect even deeper with other women, doing work that brings other mamas together. And, since that is what brings my soul real joy today, I said yes.
So, if you’re one of those mamas who has had many different interests and has never been able to declare one headlining passion, then throw that pressure to commit out the window. Learn yourself well enough to know the types of experiences that spark joy in your life. Then, pursue those until you find one whose mission makes your heart sing. I mean, for two years, at least. 🙂