One day I looked in the mirror and realized that I had become a creature of habit, one of mindless routine that stopped enjoying the spontaneity and freedom given to me in my life. I woke up at the same time, purchased the same specialty beverage at Starbucks before studying in at the same table in the library, ate the same thing for dinner, and went to the gym at the same time every other day. I hadn’t even realized I’d fallen into the comfortable routine until I realized that my life ceased to be exciting. I forgot that I had the freedom to try different things, go different places, meet with different people and give myself something to look forward to every day.
When had I started the routine? When had I stopped seeking out variety in mental and social stimulations? When had I stopped caring about how I was living my life?
I’d lost my sense of appreciation that I get to live and that each day is one to make extraordinary. I’d lost my passion.
“I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly.” ― Aldous Huxley
Passion to me is something that you feel an insatiable desire to do or think about; something that consumes you with an intense feeling of longing; an obsession that has no end.
Gliding through the air on the swings at the playground near Shippensburg’s campus, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, feeling the wind whip my hair into my face. Each arch, I pushed myself higher and higher, reaching for the sky, reaching for the sense of purpose I’d lost in the midst of mindless note-taking, extensive class discussions, long-winded essays, and hours spent alone.
I needed to change; so I did. I went back to what I had lost: writing. I picked up my journal and wrote, I composed another blog post and thought of ideas for others, I started a project that’s allowed me to write on the days I don’t have academic writing to do, and I changed my way of thinking. It started with writing and then translated into everyday life: I got a different drink at Starbucks, I sat elsewhere in the library, I texted my friends to catch up, I made plans to go out, and I told myself that I would start saying yes to everything I would normally say no too.
“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
I had stopped putting time and effort into cultivating the person I wanted to be. And, I had stopped making time to appreciate everything I enjoyed in life: really tasting my coffee in the morning, writing in my journal, exploring everything I was curious about. Life had become so fast and busy. In my effort to be as productive as possible, I had been productive at things that don’t really give me joy, and that was a huge mistake. What is the point of life if you aren’t at least enjoying some aspect of everything you’re doing?
Sometimes you need epiphanies like these to remind you of what’s really worth putting time and effort into and to remind you when you need to step back and take things slower, really appreciating them. That’s where passion is: wherever your mind is pleasantly and actively engaged in something that speaks to your soul.