Many internet articles constantly bombard us these days with pseudo-inspirational platitudes such as “find your passion” and “do what you love.” Frequently, these catchy phrases are thrust upon us without any context whatsoever, leaving most of us wondering what exactly most self-help tracts mean when they tell us how important it is to find our passions. You may be asking questions like… What is passion? What if passion doesn’t really exist? What if we’re just stuck doing whatever we need to in order to make money or whatever social pressure forces us into? What if the only people who get to do what they really want to do in life do so because of luck or privilege? Fortunately, passions do exist and you can and should pursue them. However, their basis may be the opposite of what most people might think.
Passion is created through hard work and experimentation. Only through trying new things can you discover your true interests. Contrary to what you may think, not many people roll out of bed one day and get the idea that they’re highly passionate about a previously unexplored hobby or career path. I personally didn’t find out that I was passionate about developing roguelike games until a year into actually doing it. Most people discover what they truly enjoy after trying something new and discovering how rewarding they find it.
Trying new things might mean that you have to step out of your comfort zone. This can cause anxiety for some, however, in order to discover what you truly enjoy, it is important to complete this step nonetheless. For example, even if you grew up wanting to be a game developer, experiencing what it is like to actually program a game might shift your aspirations toward being a programmer instead. Even though those two fields typically have a mutually exclusive skill set, with enough dedication, you may discover that you can excel at this activity that you previously believed you wouldn’t be as good at. Discovering activities that you never knew you’d enjoy is why it’s important to try things that lie outside of your immediate comfort zone.
Finding what you’re truly passionate about will take trial and error. You may find something you greatly enjoy, but it may be too demanding, or your financial resources will not allow you to participate. Another difficulty people run into is trying numerous activities and taking a long time to discover where their passions truly lie. Sure, you could try to learn pixel art, programming, user interface design, audio design, and level design at the same time, but remember the opportunity cost of trying to learn all of these different things. The process of self-discovery can be frustrating, but when you do finally find what you love you will not only be doing what you enjoy, but your life will be filled with purpose as well. Finding your passion will more than likely have its growing pains, but the process itself can be an interesting journey and worthwhile learning process.
Do you remember what you want to be when you grew up? Many readers would probably find that their current careers don’t match what they had in mind for themselves during childhood. Many who had dreams of becoming an astronaut, a firefighter, or movie star have found themselves stuck in a cubicle doing mundane and routine work. The above state of affairs is not what most people intend for themselves, so how do people end up in such a miserable state of affairs? During childhood, many of us never had opportunities to truly explore our dreams. We were told that if we didn’t follow the path set out for us by our elders, there would be dire consequences. Since the education system is based on testing and rote memorization instead of experimentation and free play, your childhood aspirations may have become a dim memory and you may feel stuck in a rut of mediocrity as an adult. From experience, you know things are different in the real world. Society measures success based on social status or how much money you have managed to accrue. As an adult, material goods and acknowledgement from one’s peers become more important than making your childhood dreams come true.
There are things that aren’t taught in most schools, things like video games, creative writing, alternative dance, and making online videos, that will resonate with some kids, but since they aren’t taught those kids may never find what they’re good at because they’re forced to spend all their time competing with others for a boring and frequently pointless existence. Due to the education system’s narrow focus on academic achievement, people are simply never exposed to what they truly love to do. Besides, formal education isn’t the only path to success. Remember that many successful people dropped out of college because they weren’t happy with where they were going. Don’t think that a lack of success in formal education means that you will be unsuccessful in life or in game development; it just means that you have to look for your own path to success.
One way to explore your passions is to try out what you wanted to do as a child, or to explore an area that you never learned about in school. Who knows? Maybe you’ll manage to discover or rediscover something you didn’t know you had in you. It’s important to think outside of the box when it comes to exploring activities you enjoy or new things you think you’ll be good at. Only doing what you know you’re good at means that you might never discover something you would have loved, simply because you were unwilling to try something new. Perhaps you’re interested in programming, but your true passion lies in designing intricate game systems. Or perhaps you’re a composer trying to make it in the games industry, but you secretly wish that you could build a game from the ground up with programming.
Remember, passion doesn’t originate in a vacuum; discovering your passions can take diligence and persistence. Only when you put in effort will you see the results that you like. Besides, trying a new activity in a half-hearted manner means that you won’t be fully immersed in that activity and all that it might have to offer you. For example, you would never just spend some time in waist-deep water at the pool before declaring that learning how to swim is entirely pointless. In the same vein you would never just type out basic “Hello World!” programs and decide that programming as a whole is incredibly linear and boring. Explore new options and hobbies to help see if you’re good at it. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you may discover a new passion and you might end up finding something you love.
Important Takeaways: It’s important to find what you truly enjoy doing in life, but how do you actually go about doing that? The most important factor in finding that true passion is simply trying new things. If you don’t put your all into finding new things to do, the one job that would’ve been perfect for you might end up sliding past you. This will require stepping out of your comfort zone and pursuing that true passion vigorously; if you avoid activities and pre-convince yourself that an activity isn’t for you even before you’ve tried it, you’ll never find your true passion or it’ll sneak right past you as you consciously make the effort to hate it. A life without that true passion will be a life locked in mediocrity, so make sure you discover what your true calling is before it’s too late. Find your place in the games industry by finding yourself.