Haiti wasn’t always in my path, at least I didn’t know it was there. Not long ago, hearing people left and right tell me to follow my heart always led to long, confusing days trying to figure out who I was, what I like, and what in the world I was going to do with my life. But I’ve been writing about passion a lot lately, something that I’m realizing is easy from someone who has found his. Almost by definition, anyone who has found their passion is actively pursuing it. But today I remembered a confused 15-year-old kid who was lost in a big world, and I remember the pain he felt when people tried to tell him to follow his passion.
I want to talk about that in-between stage from being totally lost to being completely found in yourself, because the answer isn’t looking around at everyone else, waiting for inspiration to hit you across the face. And a burning passion doesn’t often show up in the middle of the night like this terrible mosquito bite I have on my elbow. Discovering your heart is a journey, and it’s not often easy, but we all have a passion waiting for us and a world that needs our hearts on fire.
Most of my fight with desire took place during eighth to tenth grade. I definitely wasn’t passionate about anything, I didn’t have many things I liked to do, and I was extremely average at pretty much everything I did. I had been to Haiti a couple of times, and that was neat, but I was sure I had nothing to offer there. I was lost and confused in a new school with endless possibilities. I knew I could be anyone, and that scared me. Then I thought about going to college after that and all the endless possibilities, then after that I would be set loose into a big world full of careers and I couldn’t even name something I enjoyed doing.
I drove myself sick with worry, but then out of this confusion I knew I need to step out of my own way and stop being scared of the world. I decided to dive into a wide range of things, anything that I might have a chance at being good at. I signed up for woodworking, actually tried in science class, booked myself several more trips to places I’ve never been, and I quit wrestling because that sucked. I joined different student groups and hung out with a variety of people. I guess I could say I was diversifying my portfolio.
It was frustrating and most of the time I didn’t feel any closer to what I wanted to do, but through this process, I was learning more about myself every day, I still am. I was able to weed out things that didn’t interest me and get more involved in things that did.
By the time junior year rolled around, the pieces of my interests started to come together in a picture of who I am. It was overwhelmingly clear that I wasn’t interested in money or politics, I liked helping people, building things, solving problems, being independent, and traveling. That, more or less, left we with the options of missionary or homeless person. It wasn’t until I researched myself more that I was led to Haiti. I didn’t see the clear road at the time, but It took a wide exploration of activities to find my interests, and diving into those curiosities left me with a passion.
It took Leonardo 16 years to paint the Mona Lisa, and in the meantime he felt like a failure. If you don’t know your heart’s desire, life feels lonesome and mundane. Thankfully, most of the world is in the same boat. You aren’t broken or pointless, you just need a little spark, but it’s time to stop waiting around for inspiration to hit, the world needs your passionate heart. We all have a journey before us and a role we we’re destined to be great at.