I composed this blog post as I ran four miles last night. I love when inspiration hits and so I’m going with it. My run started out pretty normal; I’m generally a slow runner (and that’s okay), but the late afternoon sun hitting remnants of color in the trees would carry me through, I was certain. I started out with my usual play list, jamming along, repeating several of my faves, especially as I climbed the long hill by one of the huge Amish farms near our house.
I love this part of my run, as the landscape appears almost hilly, undulating between forest and farm. The Amish have these beautiful horses pasturing in the field, the sky took on hazy blue tones and started to mix with the light purples and pinks. I imagined a full moon rising, which recently it did, and savored every moment as I trotted on by.
On the down hill, I began to hit a rhythm (arguably easier with gravity on my side). I noticed my legs feeling stronger (courtesy of those CrossFit Worthy squats, I’m sure!) and I easily kept focused ahead. At one point, as I was jamming and keeping time with Melissa Etheridge, I looked to my right and caught the ah-mazing colors of the sunset streaking across the fields. You know when you have those moments that just seem surreal?
Clearly, I was having one of them, hitting a groove that felt awesome!
Then Donny Osmond + Susan Boyle came on my iPod with their heartfelt rendition of All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera (yes, I have Donny on my iPod). I had this song in my playlist because I only recently saw the production for the first time last spring with our McNair scholars. I couldn’t stop singing this song! One of the main reasons we take our students to see these awesome performances is so that they can experience and feel the exuberance and passion of the performance. That song just goes right through you and last night was no exception.
Despite my usual timidness, I allowed myself to sing aloud (if just a bit, here and there, and really only the horses and cows might hear) and pretty soon I was trying to hit the high notes + hand gesturing as all get out. I just searched for an image of a person running with their arms extended forward (you know, as if they were singing for JOY) and this is what I came up with (see left). I admit, this might be over the top, but I’m willing to bring in the cheese factor ten-fold so that I can really nail down my point here. Besides, it’s all about the passion really. That’s what I’m really talking about here.
I started thinking about how I felt sitting in the audience and watching the Phantom performers belt out this song. I could *feel* the energy coming from Donny and Susan. It prompted me to let out a little bit of my own energy + excitement + passion. Right now I’m passionate about my students and creating a new grad student support program for them. I’m nervous about this idea but I’m taking small steps to keep moving forward regardless. Each time I do, I feel amazing. I’m letting my passion inspire action and it’s starting to build. I can feel it.
I’m letting my passion inspire action and it’s starting to build.
So here’s the thing. We all have something different that we’re a little bit (or a lot!) excited about. I think the real key is allowing ourselves to feel and really experience that passion. Even if it feels a little “new” or “different” or “scary” at first. Or you might only get a glimpse of it at first. Take these small ideas or nuggets and run with them.
We need to allow ourselves to get all wrapped up in the nuances of our own discoveries about this passion, this interest, this intrigue. And I think the more we do that, the more we can grab hold of our true talents + abilities. Our abilities begin to surface when we begin to trust ourselves enough and embrace what’s really inspiring our fancy at this particular moment in time.
I’m often perplexed talking with students, our current students and prospective ones. I think one of my primary jobs is to help students brainstorm options for their future. It’s often the case, however, that they haven’t got a clue! And they feel stressed and worried about this. I can definitely understand why too.
I don’t think it’s something you can force or rush, but rather, just keep investigating … by taking different classes, talking to professors, doing Google searches on career paths, reading up on topics that grab your attention. You’ve got to be open + proactive when it comes to the exploration process. But then once something “tickles your fancy” you’ve got to run with it.
You’ve got to trust yourself in the process.
By “run with it” I mean start expressing yourself in relation to your passion. Talk about it with friends, asks questions if you are taking a class in the subject, write about it (formally + informally), look for opportunities to get further ingrained in what it is you’re interested in (think internships, shadowing, volunteering, whatever it takes).
I also think that it’s okay (and very common) to have multiple passions. Having an array of things that really “float your boat” can help feed the different areas of your life. That’s how I feel about my yoga practice, running and CrossFit. I’m really “into” those things and I’m finding the energy + growth that emerges as a result fuels my work, me being a good mom and more.
I encourage you to dive deep with your interests. Let your passion go where it needs to go. Try letting your passions fuel each other. Allow yourself to be surprised. You never know where you’ll end up. And that’s the true beauty of it.