At age six, my mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The news destroyed her will to fight and my father became a workaholic and alcoholic to survive. It was tough, but I survived.
At age 23, I broke up with the man I was sure I was going to marry. We dated for three years; he gave me a promise ring for Christmas at his parents’ house. Soon after, I found out he was also dating Jennifer, Jane, and Amanda throughout our courtship. It was tough, but I survived
At age 30, I found out that, like my mother, I too, have multiple sclerosis. After a year or so of self-pity, I decided to move forward. It was tough, but I survived. In fact, I thrived.
At age 45, my ex-husband almost choked me to death in an alcoholic frenzy. After escaping, I divorced and experienced incredible financial hardship. It was tough, but you know what? I survived.
I don’t tell you about these experiences to make you feel sorry me. I am certain others have gone through far more challenging experiences than I have endured. I tell you these experiences to share the one thing that helped me through every challenge I have ever overcome. That factor is passion, passion for something outside of myself.
People often associate passion to emotions for another person. I prefer to focus on passion for something that develops from the inside. People are human, and humans are fallible. Passion, to me, is the desire to improve at something, make a difference in the world, Inevitably, when I focus on that, it is far easier to overcome my any obstacle.
Regardless of what I was interested in at the time, passion took me out of myself, immersed me in a growth mindset, and helped me see a potential tragedy as a disguised blessing. Passion helped me heal, increased my self-confidence, and gave me permission to like myself again. It really didn’t matter what my passionate purpose was at the time. What mattered was how immersing myself in that purpose helped me see past the the tragedy of the moment.
When I was a child and in my 20’s, my passion was playing saxophone well. It helped me deal with family difficulties and young love. In my 30’s and 40’s (and still is today), my passion was being the best teacher I could be. It helped me overcome personal illness and self-confidence issues. In my 40’s and now 50’s, my newest passion is learning more about God and how being the best version of myself makes the world a better place. Passion helped me through countless difficulties and was my catalyst for positive change. It gave me reason to hope once again.
As I stand here today, I hope that if you don’t already have a passionate purpose, I urge figure one out. Try new things. Get outside of yourself.
One point of caution. Make your passion independent of others’ approval. Don’t make your passion project a person. Your passion should be something you love. Maybe it’s video games. Maybe it is baking. Maybe it’s softball. Maybe it is drawing or volunteering or working with horses or hunting or improving your house. Whatever your passion, immerse yourself in it when you encounter difficulties. Figure out how that passion can positively impact others around you. Over time, it will give you new life and you will smile once again.