On passion

2 Jan

Passion is a funny thing. Many of us spend our teenage years pretending that passion is for losers, and being too cool for anything is an admirable trait. This becomes slightly more pathetic when some people carry this concept into adulthood. It’s sort of like dying your hair purple and wearing a corset and fishnets to the club – as a grown woman. It’s fake edginess. It’s pseudo-rebellion. It’s only there because admitting to caring about something is like admitting you’re uncool, and to some people that is a fate worse than death. (The whole purple-hair-and-fishnets thing is a huge red flag on an adult woman, by the way, unless it’s Halloween. And even if it is, it’s pathetic  – “Please allow my false edginess to cause you to pay attention to me!”) Real edge comes from within. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool punk rocker, but I don’t dress the part. Because I don’t need to.

Speaking of false edginess, the Sex Pistols (the punk band) were basically a boy band cobbled together for their look. A producer figured he could use them to sell “punk” clothes. They were a marketing ploy. So the entire punk rock aesthetic can be traced back to a guy using a musical image to get rich. Their lyrics were written by marketing people. There is no real edge – it’s the appearance of rebellion.

You don’t really get to pick your passions; they pick you, and you have to choose how you’re going to implement that passion in your life. Conventional wisdom tells us that passions must be hobbies or side projects, never careers, because work is horrible and you must hate it or you aren’t a REAL AMURRICAN. So say you have a passion for building furniture. The same people who consciously reject giving a shit about anything are the same people who will tell you to go build furniture on your own time. They will inform you that there’s no way to “make any money” building furniture, and therefore it must be a “side” venture. The bulk of your time must be spent doing what you don’t want, so you can spend what’s left doing what you want.

Does that seem lopsided to anyone else?

Your energy should go into your passions. You shouldn’t have to gather up the scraps of energy and time you have left after laboring in WORK to do something you care about. We get stuck in that routine and then try to use fake edginess to rebel, because we really fucking hate what we do and let’s act out. The system is DESIGNED for this process. The world is seeded with negative people who will tear down genuine passion and replace it with their fake edginess.

This all goes back to the mindset that caring about something leaves you vulnerable, and being vulnerable isn’t cool. Passion can leave your heart undefended, and there are plenty of people who want to take a stab at your heart while it’s exposed.

Passion is abstract. What do I want to do when I grow up? I want to change the world. I tell people that, and they smirk. I tell people I’m in doctoral school and the next question is, without fail, “What do you do with that?” Because the mindset we’ve been forced to adopt is that every action must have some sort of definable outcome that leads to financial reward. Forget personal fulfillment, they want to know how I will earn money. And I can see it in their eyes when I tell them “I’m going to be a teacher,” – they feel sorry for me, or they’re looking down on me. Never is anyone genuinely thrilled for me, and I’ve never had anyone “get it” when I spill the “change the world” bit.

Passion is completely abstract. There are means towards chipping at it, but there’s never a fast, definable answer. People want a goal that’s relevant for a capitalist society that consumes information in chunks, like McNuggets.

Everyone’s a fucking critic. I even get people talking down to me for wanting to involve myself in the academy, because academia is just part of the military industrial complex anyway, and by becoming a college professor I ensure the cycle of violence against poor brown people continues.

Remember what I said about pseudo-rebellion? Fake edge?

My passion is such that I have to work from within. Get inside the system and start making changes, start tearing it down. Conduct myself in a professional manner at all times, while setting in motion the things that need to happen so I can start changing the world.

I don’t need to advertise my “edge.” The best kind of rebellion is the kind that starts on the inside. Intellectual Stockholm Syndrome. So look twice – you think I may be playing the game, but there’s more passion here then I could ever hope to convey with my outward image.

You want to change the world? Go do it. 2012 is the Year of Possibilities. Negative naysayers can GTFO; we’ll be working from within.


2 Responses to “On passion”

  1. Lindy January 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    It’s sad that people would look down on or feel sorry for someone going into the academic world. My husband is leaving his business career and going back to school to be a teacher, and I completely admire him for it. I get the “change the world” bit.

  2. claracomfort January 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m a lawyer, and my passion is reproductive rights… but in the area I live in, getting a job in that field is pretty much impossible. So for me, my passion will have to be a hobby or things I do via volunteering 😦 (And moving is not a feasible option for us)

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