Who we are, who we were, and who we are yet to become are all defined by passion. Everyone chooses to focus their passion in different ways. Some people spend more time believing in their favorite sports teams than they do in believing in their own family. For some, their job becomes the focal point of their entire existence. Politics, religion, cars, academics, music, reading, writing, justice, injustice, other people’s inability to drive. I’ve seen people use their passions for things that could change the world, for things that have no meaning except to make someone else’s day miserable, and even for menial things that don’t matter at the end of the day.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for nearly a month, wondering if I should put the words out for the infinite memory of the internet and how to phrase this post if I did decide to write it. See, sometimes I’m not very good at forming my thoughts into coherent patterns that others understand as I intend. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about my own perceptions concerning the world I live in and my perceptions of the people around me of that same world because I don’t think I see the world in the same way as other people.
For years, the people in my life, my coworkers, my classmates, and sometimes even those I claim as friends, have expressed their concern about my seeming lack of control of my passion. As a brief example, I found out there was another skilled worker in my field who just started work in a neighboring building. Curious as to whether or not I knew him and if we had attended any similar training as my field is very small, I walked over to his building and located his office, intent on introducing myself and sharing knowledge and experiences. He had been on the island before, so he knew a bit more than I have so far learned about the ins and outs of local entertainment and we spent some time chatting about that before we got down to the discussion concerning work. I am one of the very few people I know who believe in my job and the importance of doing the best I can in my current occupation and this gentleman, who had just come from where most of the people who have my occupation live and work, said he had never in his five years working in this field heard anyone speak of our job with the passion that I demonstrated.
My passion and my belief in my job has accomplished amazing things because I believe in my job so strongly that I have many times refused to give up when I have seen others walk away in defeat. In this way, it’s really easy to tell when I care about things and when I don’t and a lot of my friends have said that I am a terrible liar for that reason. So I started wondering if it was such a bad thing that those close to me knew that I cared. I spent time watching the lives of other people as they interacted with their normal world and it struck me as terribly unfair how much of ourselves and our own passions we are expected to bury under masks of lies and political correctness.
While at dinner one night with one of my really great friends, a table in the corner was being extremely loud and probably slightly intoxicated. Their topic of discussion was someone in their circle of acquaintances, someone not present at this gathering, who was under the impression that this circle contained her best friends. Whoever their absent friend was, I was angry beyond words on her behalf on how these “friends” of hers were treating her and talking about her in her absence. They laughed and joked at her expense and ridiculed things she clearly thought were important. Though I didn’t know her or any of the people at the table, I was infuriated because not one of the chicks at the table were being honest with the absent person. Not one. I don’t know if they were maintaining a false friendship for status or for networking or because they thought it was funny, but I didn’t think it was funny or amusing at all.
A number of people all throughout my life have told me that I have a good heart. I know that I feel things strongly and that I have unrealistic definitions of things like friendship. I don’t understand why so many people choose to use the passions they are given in their lives to voluntarily cause hurt to others, like the chicks in the brewery. I think passion is intimidating to people – that people in our modern society today are so used to wearing a mask all day every day and denying everything that makes them who they are that they are frightened by those who refuse to wear the accepted societal masks.
I’m a writer, but I’m also a builder. I get excited about reading, writing, and Legos. I’m over three decades old and most people in my peer group give me the same look that they give their seven-year-old after that same seven-year-old announces that they want to become a dragon knight and rescue the prince from his evil step uncle. Kind of like the, “That’s nice, dear, why don’t we look at doing our math homework now so you can go to college and be a nurse when you grow up.” It’s like everyone thinks that I should have adult hobbies like getting drunk and spending all my free time watching fake people’s lives on television instead of writing this awesome horror story about the end of the world and zombies and aliens and building massive Lego sets to support my world-building skills.
No one knows what to do about me because I am intense and focused. I believe in the things that make me who I am. I like having short hair because I’m lazy and because every single time one of my male coworkers tells me how attractive I would look if I would just let my hair grow out, I want to poke him in the eye and tell him that he would look a lot more attractive without his beer gut that makes him look pregnant with quadruplets. I like being single because I like being me. I haven’t met a single person yet who hasn’t attempted to change me into something more fitting with what they want and something less suited to who I am. I’m not going to cook. Ever. And if you saw my attempted oatmeal from breakfast yesterday, you wouldn’t argue with me about making sure I’m never allowed in a kitchen except with adult supervision. There was a guy who recently stayed with me who tried to open every single door for me, and while I thought it was kind of cute at first, after the first three doors (the house door, the truck door, and the restaurant door), I wanted to beat him over the head with something. I have my very own arms and legs that work just perfectly. Doors to businesses are fine, but it’s MY house and MY truck.
All this just pushes at me because it feels more and more like we try and control our passions into what we think society thinks are appropriate outlets for our passions. I’m a thirty-something female, so I should absolutely be passionate about finding a husband, getting an adult job, having a family, and saving for my old age where I can be a loving and doting old grandmother. But that isn’t what my passions lead me to at all. Every time I’ve tried to express my heart and my true passions to those I love and trust the most, it tends to go badly for me. I’ve learned through so many years that being a passionate person goes two directions. I feel intense joy and I love with everything I have, but that also means that I feel hurt so strongly that I often look at the people around me and wonder how it is that they appear to feel nothing at all. This causes confusion, misunderstandings, and a sense of profound broken-ness that often feels beyond repair.
As the years pass and the world around me gets more and more confusing, I’ve attempted and failed again and again to control all the passion that consumes me. I’ve allowed that control to become an iron fist, stifling my words and my creative spirit. I’ve monitored with careful precision the words I put on the page, and this has reflected negatively in my novels as my characters have become almost emotionless drones. I’ve been so afraid of causing issues or concerns or hurting people with my words that my words have lost their passion, even to me. I didn’t really notice this until I started going through the revisions on my thesis novel from my MA program, and I really started noticing it as I started making huge chunks of progress on the mysterious new horror novel that continues to eat up most of my time and energy.
I’m not you. I will never be you. I am me. Boxing up my passion and fitting into everyone else’s world isn’t doing my writing any good. It’s not making my characters any stronger or more believable and it’s not helping me as a person. Other people may be able to go through their lives hiding their emotions and not allowing their passion to be a meaningful part of their lives, but I am not them. It’s time for me to allow the passion back into my words and stop worrying about whether or not I offend anyone. I’m allowed my own life and my own opinion, just like everyone else, and it’s time I started showing the world the power of my passion.