By Richa Pokhrel/@nepalichoriblog
I am so tired of people asking me what my passion is, what is the one thing that drives me in my professional and personal life. To be honest with you, I am not driven by one passion, I have a lot of interests. I am open to trying new things and seeing if it’s something I like. Since I came back from Nepal at the end of November, I have been temping to earn a bit of cash while I look for a permanent position. The temp agency has placed me in all different kinds of organizations ranging from private institutions to non profits. For one week, all I did was enter hundreds of surveys, another week, I helped an organization redo some of their forms. I am currently temping at a cool organization doing work related to operations. It’s been interesting to see how other organizations work and experience their work atmosphere.
I had been feeling bad about not knowing where to go next and not knowing exactly what I want to do. I know many people who have been passionate about something since childhood. For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, that was my dream for more than 10 years. I don’t know if this dream was because of my own interests or the pressure from my parents. It was probably a combination of both.
That career goal changed when I entered college. I didn’t enjoy taking science classes at all (received my only C in college for that chemistry class). I thought I wanted to do radiology so I went to volunteer at a hospital. I only lasted one day. I didn’t like the smell, the look, the suffering that I saw. It was a type of environment that didn’t motivate me to be proactive and help, it honestly made me dizzy. I thought I would try business, perhaps accounting, my dad suggested it because I did well in my high school accounting class. That was also a no go. Some of my friends know and I have probably mentioned it before, but I changed my major 6 times in college. Eventually, I decided on a new major we had at my school, International Studies. This one seemed the least constraining because it was very broad and many types of classes counted towards the major.
I went to graduate school pretty quickly after earning my undergraduate degree. I wish I waited a bit longer so I could have better experienced the world and tried more things. Now I am in a load of debt! I got my degree in International Development and I am still interested in working in that field. However, it has been hard for me to find an organization that aligns with my values on how they operate abroad. I have a lot of issues with some international NGOs and I personally don’t want to work anywhere that I don’t know the language (ha, maybe I am just difficult). This really limits me in terms of what countries I can work in (Nepal, any English speaking country, and perhaps India). Having a husband and dog also makes things more complicated when trying to move abroad.
Earlier this year, my mother in law sent me this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (full length video). Liz Gilbert talks about people who are driven by one passion and people who aren’t. She calls people like me hummingbirds, people who aren’t fueled by one thing. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems that the majority of people are driven by one thing, one cause, everyone is so passionate about something. I am surrounded by many people who I would describe as jackhammer-ish. I feel like I know less people who could be hummingbirds. It’s probably because we don’t talk about this more openly.
Society views people like me as people who don’t have drive, people who aren’t motivated. I have felt those things about myself too. This is far from the case though. I am driven, I am a hard worker, and I have good skills. I am an almost 30 year who is still trying to figure out what she wants to do and that may not change for a while. Unfortunately, this pressure to figure out what you want to do starts an early age. We are always asking kids what they want to do when they grow up. We are always telling people to find their passion.
The permanent positions I have applied for are jobs that I am interested in and they vary so much in terms of job responsibilities and types of organization. It’s easy to earn money (yay for temp), but it’s harder to find something that interests me and challenges me. People have asked me what my top choices are, but I like them all because I have been very thoughtful about my next position. My main goal in life is to help people in someway (is this a passion?), but I have come to realize there are many ways to do that. One doesn’t have to work in NGOs, one doesn’t have to be a doctor, one doesn’t have to be a lawyer, social worker, etc. I feel like any job you have could be justified as helping people in some way. I can continue to write, I can walk other people’s dogs, and I can own a small tea stall. All of these things are helpful. Most importantly, I have come to realize that I don’t have to choose, I can do all of them if I want to. Hopefully I will have a long life where I can explore all these things.
So now when people ask me what I am passionate about, I am going to say that I am passionate about living a good life where I am helpful to society. A life where I am going to be and do many different things. I am sure people won’t be impressed with this answer, but who cares! I am the only person who can live this life and that’s good enough for me. I am not ashamed to be a hummingbird. My head will always be in the clouds, my hands will always be involved in something. Not having that one passion isn’t going to stop me from working hard, from being driven, and being enthusiastic about changing the world.
So would you describe yourself as a hummingbird or a jackhammer or something else?