I have this really nifty journal. It’s called “Q&A a Day: 365 Questions – 5 Years – 1,825 Answers”. It basically asks some deep, some not-so-deep questions, one a day, for a year and chronicles your answers over 5 years. So it’s sort of like a timeline to look back upon and marvel at where you were 1, 2, 3 years ago. I dig. I totally dig.
Yesterday, it asked: “What colors are you wearing?” Duh. Turquoise. Today, it asked: “What is your secret passion?” Talk about upping the ante. I usually like to go with my gut and not over-think the answers because
I believe our first responses in life tend to be our most authentic.
So naturally I replied: “to run away.”
That’s not even answering the question. Running away isn’t a passion. WTF.
So I dug a little deeper. I love my career, I love the prospect of my future in my career in my current place of work, which inevitably has to be in NYC. I don’t love: NYC. I haven’t for a while. I mean. OK. There is a lot to love about the city, I don’t want to start a fiery debate about the greatest city on earth, and listen, I’m not a total Negative Nelly about it. I look for the good. At least I always attempt to. It’s admittedly an exciting place to live, full of color and richness and life! There’s so much good! And this city has taught me tough lessons, and the triumphs and falters I’ve experienced here have made me a better person because of it. But it also can be easily miserable at the same time. Anyone who has ever lived in NYC knows of this eternal love/hate relationship with the city. It’s sort of part of it’s impossible mystique.
Anyway. Honestly? E-Truehollywood Story-style? I have been looking for an escape route out of here for many multiple months now, if not years. That’s the honest truth. So my secret passion isn’t to run away, as much as it is to create a new life for myself elsewhere. Which is forever in the back of my mind. But that’s real scary, and a conundrum I’ve been trying to solve for a while, because I also happen to love the life that’s unfolding in front of me here in the city for the first time maybe ever.
I felt though that I couldn’t leave my answer at simply “to run away”. That answer, while valid, is hilarious. It’s shamelessly juvenile. I sound like my 7 year old self, threatening to find a better family when things didn’t go my way (An annual episode during my childhood which always started with a minor altercation and giant-sized tears streaming down my face as I melodramatically packed my most treasured belongings into a backpack, feeling all the feels, and started out bravely down the cul-de-sac to find my new family. “They’ll miss me when I’m gone and then they’ll be sorry but it will be too late. I will have moved on.” type thinking. This ridiculous tantrum usually lasted roughly 10 minutes before my imagination kicked into overdrive and I started irrationalizing the dangers of probably being kidnapped by some stranger who most definitely was going to offer me candy in a creepy van with no windows; at which point I would always make a sharp u-turn and sprint the entire way back to my incredible home that I suddenly was so grateful for, throwing myself onto familiar turf and bursting into another fit of tears, this time out of genuine gratitude versus melodrama. Full circle. Literally, in less than 10 minutes. Shocking I became an actress.)
So. I continued my answer.
“I think most of my passions aren’t secret.” OK. Nice try. Still largely not answering the question. #fail
I dug deeper.
Finally, and suddenly without prompt:
“To be an entrepreneur, and a good mother.”
Boom. There it was. The truth. The hidden truth. Two things that I really wish for myself in the deepest darkest corners of my soul, are the two things that terrify me the most. Which is why they are “secret”. (or…used to be one minute ago, or however long it took you to read the first part of this saga.)
And isn’t that funny?
Our secret passions are likely to be those that we are most afraid of.
And why? I think we are afraid to admit them, to speak them out loud, not necessarily out of fear that we will not achieve these things, but fearing what would happen if we did? I mean, what do you do once you achieve your top secret passions? What happens then!? We are afraid. We are afraid of being vulnerable. So we hide these passions, we shame ourselves for thinking such things because we think we are unworthy of achieving such greatness. Brene Brown in her incredible TedxHouston talk (watch it here!) says it best:
“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see it that I won’t be worthy of connection? […] What underpinned this shame, this ‘I’m not good enough’…was excruciating vulnerability. This idea of, in order for connection we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Really seen.”
And guess what? Being seen, really seen, requires the unveiling of your secret passions because therein lies the truth of who you really want to be. But first, you must have:
the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.
Brene mentions in this Tedx that ‘courage’ comes from the Latin ‘cour’ translating to ‘heart’. Brene encourages people to tell the story of you, of who are with your whole heart. In spite of fear of rejection, failure, not being accepted. Key word from the definition above? Willingness.
YOU MUST BE WILLING TO LET GO OF WHO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE IN ORDER TO BECOME WHO YOU ARE.
And what better way than to start unearthing your secret passions.
So I challenge you today to ask yourself this very question:
WHAT IS MY SECRET PASSION?
Be patient with yourself. You might spit out a few stupid answers like I did until you get to the root of it all, and that’s OK. Allow yourself to dig deep. Be vulnerable. And then ask yourself:
WHY AM I AFRAID?
My hope for you out of this exercise is to explore your heart. Open yourself to hard truths. Admit that you’re scared. Being scared makes total sense when it comes to finding ourselves within our most precious passions. And finally:
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I ACTUALLY ATTAINED THOSE THINGS?
Be specific. What actions would you need to take? What would life look like? What would your daily agenda be? Who would you surround yourself with? Where would you live? What other secret passions do you think would surface in absence of these current ones?
Watch Marie Forleo's entertaining and empowering commentary on Finding Your Passion.
So, in the words of Brene Brown, I challenge you today to
To find belonging, love, worthiness. To BELIEVE YOU ARE WORTHY. To make an action plan once you discover your passions. I know I certainly have homework to do, and I hope you do too! And remember, you are not alone in this.
What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. And being vulnerable is NECESSARY.
To feel this vulnerable means we are alive.