Geetanjali Mukherjee

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Is Passion Overrated?

My mother and I were discussing certain movie stars and then talking about how they don’t particularly care what they have to do to make their movie work, what demeaning work, how they make fools of themselves to sell their movies. How they don’t do 'meaningful' cinema, and yet they make millions, have a good time, travel around the world, and eventually even get feted by those who do ‘meaningful’ work.

Our problem, or specifically, my problem is that I am too obsessed with image, how something will look, etc. Since I was a child, I had ambitions of being a public figure and wanting to do something with my life, and hence was very mindful of how something would later look, or what people would say if they saw that I had done such-and-such work. I am always confused when thinking about writing books what impact they may have on my image if I want to work for a corporation – what will they say about my actions? I even stopped myself from writing a blog previously because I was afraid that I might say something that would later be construed as something else. In none of this was I being untrue to myself, but I somehow thought it would not fit the image someone else might have of me.

This is such a problem – people create images of us, that we ‘should’ behave in a certain manner, that we cannot possibly combine one sort of profession with another, that in order to be successful in something, we must abandon something else. In the world however, there are many who break the stereotypes. Condoleeza Rice was both the Secretary of State and an acclaimed pianist. There are many athletes and actors who also own restaurants. The problem I perceive with myself is that my interests seem to clash. I want to be a writer, of biographies, and I want to write and research topics on peace and conflict, and I also want to work as a consultant, for businesses. These seemingly disparate topics are all close to my heart and I somehow cannot decide which one or two to cut off, to be able to focus my interests in fewer areas. I could be a full-time writer, or writer part-time till I could afford to do it full-time, holding down an undemanding job in the meantime. Or I could work for a consulting firm, but I would not then have time for anything else. And if I really wanted just to focus on peace, I could do a PhD or work for an international NGO in the area I am interested in. But as you can see, being interested in all three poses a bit of a dilemma, one that I cannot begin to solve.

What then is the solution? Is passion for one’s work overrated? Are we born to do one specific thing, or can we do just about anything as long as it brings home the bacon? Should I be glad that at least there is one thing I love, and pick whatever is most lucrative and get on with it? Or find a way to tie all my passions together? Am I perhaps deluding myself that something is a passion when it might only be a phase? How does one find out? 

I would love comments on the subject, as as of now, I have no concrete answers.
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