Woe Is Me! “How Do I Stop Quitting My Passions?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“For the longest time, everyone has told me I can never stick to one thing. I declare I’m passionate about something, only to leave it and move on if I don’t see results quickly enough. The projects and hobbies I take up consume me at first, and I spend sleepless nights mulling over them. But soon enough, that energy dies out. The ease with which I quit things makes me wonder whether I was actually passionate about them in the first place. It has become a pattern for me. How do I break it?”
— My passion has phases
SM: We live in a society that values and rewards having a single focus and being really good at only one thing — but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving and wanting to pursue multiple things. Some of my most brilliant friends do exactly what you say, and I think it’s less about becoming bored or not being passionate enough, and much more about just having an extremely curious and excitable mind, which guides you to follow different passions, and also makes you lose interest. So, maybe, think carefully about whether you lose interest because you don’t see results quickly enough, or just because you want to move on to trying something new that excites you. If it definitely is the former, then, maybe, it’s also about changing your approach from being more result-oriented, to being more fulfillment/learning/joy-oriented — that way, you can pursue multiple things at the same time, and pick them up or drop them depending on how they make you feel.
QG: Oh, I fully get it! I had an art phase, a makeup phase, a photography phase, a photoshop phase — the list is unending. Suffice it to say, I’ve also spent sleepless nights pondering over what was wrong with me. But, here’s the thing — I don’t think it’s that big of a deal? Why have we pedestalized this idea that we have to be passionate about one thing consistently throughout our lives? Why is there so much shame in letting a hobby fade out? I suggest we stop taking everything seriously, and just enjoy whatever holds our fancy whenever.
However, if you think this is a tendency that’s far more serious than just that and can potentially sabotage your prospects, you might want to seek professional help. You can reach out to a therapist and see what they have to say about your predicament. Maybe, there you’ll find an answer that truly answers your question.
RN: I don’t think you have to break it! Maybe your passion isn’t for the activities themselves — it’s for trying new things. You could be incredibly passionate about keeping life interesting and engaging yourself with stuff you haven’t tried before. There are no rules for how any of this works, and anyone who tells you otherwise misunderstands what it means to live life passionately. In all the anxiety about wanting to stick to something because of the script around what passion should be, we lose out on actually experiencing passion in the moment. Besides, maybe you’re less inclined to feel passionate about things or activities as much as you do about people, relationships, or experiences.
AS: More people go through this than you might realize! I personally don’t subscribe to the idea that we have only one passion that is set in stone for the rest of our lives. It’s like saying there is only a limited number of things that can motivate us or hold the potential to make us happy. I think it’s great to be constantly trying your hand at new things, exploring your interests, and discovering new ones. But if this is becoming a problem for you, especially since you mention quitting if you don’t see quick results, then a first step may be to focus on the experience rather than the outcome. This way, you might find the prospect of working on your current project or interest more enjoyable, breaking at least part of the pattern you are worried about.