Why I Choose Curiosity Over Passion

It was the worst date of my life. After being told I “looked nervous” I was being bombarded with questions that made me wonder if I was being interviewed for the position of preschool teacher. What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite dinosaur? He came in with a new question too quick for me to, in turn, ask him about his favorites. Then he asked, “What’s your passion?”

At this point I wanted to throw my glass of water at him. I’d been on a lot of bad dates, like the one in Arlington, Virginia where the chain smoker wanted me to vote for him on some board–even though I told him several times that I was still registered to vote, and thus would be voting absentee, in Michigan. But this was the first time I’d gotten this angry at a date just for conversing with me.

“I don’t have one,” I said. I didn’t feel like explaining to him that instead of being super amped up about one thing, I was mildly interested in a whole bunch of things. This was the early 2010s, and it was when advice like “find your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life!” was being spewed by self-proclaimed gurus all over the internet and repeated ad nauseam. People were eating it up. I felt like I was different and something must be wrong with me.

As a college student I briefly toyed with being an Elementary school teacher because it was the only way I could see taking classes in everything and having it be actually useful. (I’ll be ever grateful for the summer I spent working at a summer camp that showed me I definitely did not want to be an Elementary school teacher.) In college you get 1-2 years of “no pressure!” before suddenly a switch flips and it’s “OMG you have to pick a major now or you’ll never graduate and you’ll be in college forever and it’s expensive, doncha know?”

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The article I grabbed this image from talks about finding a dream job, and it also says “find your passion” is bad advice.

Much of my adult life has been filled with people telling me to narrow my focus and me digging my heals in with a solid refusal. Sure, I’ll get an English degree, but I’m not going to be an English teacher. I might knit, but I’m going to try crochet, too, and embroidery, and take this hand-lettering Skillshare class, and do Inktober. Blogging? “Blogging is easy, you just need a niche. Find the one thing you’re really passionate about and write…” No.

I’m never going to be passionate about only one thing. I’ve tried to squish my round-peg self into that square-peg hole and I’m done. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about being curious instead of being passionate. I loved the book, but this was my favorite part, because it gave me the courage to let go of this burden where I felt like I had to find my One Creative Passion. She says that people who allow themselves to be curious are actually more creative.

Lately I’ve been really into knitting, and all the knitting has made me curious about hand-dying yarn. So I’ve been giving that a try. I’ve also been itching to do a little sewing and maybe make some of those macrame plant hangers. It doesn’t mean I have to stop kitting, and even if I do, I can always go back.

Most of us live in a capitalist society where we need to find something we tolerate enough to spend around 40 hours a week doing in order to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, and support our curiosities. If there’s one thing you love doing and it supports you financially, awesome. If not, that doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. It means you’re curious. Let yourself be curious. Who knows what will happen?

Cover photo by Dmitriy Karfagenskiy on Unsplash. Of course I had to use a cat for this.

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We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program

…for a few photos of my cat, Sashimi, when she was a kitten. I’ve been having a rough day, and she always helps me feel better.

Please pardon this pause from regular blogging. We shall return shortly.

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So stinking cute!

Alright, fine. Here is another one:

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Too cute to function!

And finally, one form Instagram, possibly my favorite photo of her kitten face.

Find your happy place. Mine is with my cat.

Cover photo of Sashimi as a full grown cat. Still cute, but now more majestic.

Happy Friday – August 17 Edition

It’s Friday! Here’s the list of lucious links for the week, starting off with this recipe for Greek Shrimp Saganaki. My coworker posted it in our cooking slack channel and it’s all my mouth can think about.

Now that your appetite is wet, feast on this: 10 minute salmon sandwiches. Seafood for an appetizer and dessert? I’ll eat it.

I think I must be hungry and that’s why I just want to post recipe links, so let’s move* along. My fiancé and I are obsessed with watching House Hunters. We know it’s fake and we love to criticize the couples. We even made up a drinking game, which I should post sometime. I’ve always wondered what it would be like for the realtors on the show.

I’m still obsessed with Civ 6 and excited to hear about upcoming Tropico 6. I used to play the original, but then never tried any of the sequels. Is it time? It doesn’t look like it will be out for a while so I may be done with my Civ 6 playing by then.

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Prettier than the original.

Speaking of islands, I think I found my dream job. Now to get my family on board.

If you’re a parent, your kids play Fortnite, and you have and Android phone, watch out: there’s malware on Android. It’s disguised as the mobile version of the game.

Cover photo by Mohamed Thasneem on Unsplash. I wish I could spend my weekend there!

* I know, I am the best at dad jokes.

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About Me and My Writing

I wanted to write a little about myself, in particular, my in-progress writing projects. I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid. The first story I remember writing was in the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which was called If You Give a Cat a Strawberry. Everything is better with cats.

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My sweet kitties make everything better.

In high school I wrote bad, angst-ridden poetry on index cards and then forced all my friends to read them. I had an online diary back then on diary-x, which burned to ash when the site crashed. In college I learned to write poetry better, and had one published on a literary website. That’s gone, too.

Technical Articles

After college I wrote technical pieces for the blog of whatever company I was working for at the time. The short, technical writing lead me to write for a few larger publications, the highlight being FastCompany. I’d like to do more of this kind of writing in the future.

The Young Adult Novel

Meanwhile, I tried to do Nanowrimo upwards of seven times before finally winning one year with a young adult science fiction novel. I spent the next few years editing the novel until it became a chore. I wanted it to be perfect. I struggled with every word and thought and re-through the plot during my showers. Every time I worked on it, I felt this burden of wanting to scrap and rewrite most of it. This “scrap it” concept battled with strong attachments to my characters and wrestling with how to best present my theme in this sci-fi setting. And the constant wondering how to “up the stakes” in this thing. Finally, I gave myself permission to put it aside and start something new.

Untitled Fiction Novel

I’m not even sure what novel to put this beast into. I call it a “beast” not because I’ve written a lot of words, but because it represents a beast in my mind that needs to get out on paper. When I lived in New York, I worked for a bizarre company. There is more than enough in my memories alone to fill a book, but I’ve been working on putting a fictional narrative together. Revisiting this experience is hard. Not because it was necessarily a bad experience, but that I loved living in New York so much that thinking about it hurts my soul. Sometime I’ll have to revisit my old (paper) journal entries to help me put my memories in order. I want to keep that book, and those feelings, locked up.

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New keys, new appliances, new apartment!

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The day I got the keys to my NYC apartment, I took a selfie. Look how happy I was. This is the sort of writing you know you need to do but put off because it hurts.

Would I write more if I had a vintage typewriter? Maybe, but editing would be more difficult. Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

The Nerd Fell in Love with the Jock

One of my absolute favorite, listen to every episode, tell everyone how awesome it is, podcasts is Judge John Hodgman, in which John Hodgeman of “I’m a PC” fame rules on petty disputes between couples, friends, coworkers, and family members. One of my life goals is to have a dispute worthy of being on the show.

I did some quick googling to see if John Hodgman wrote anything about jocks and nerds, only to discover this clip. Here he discusses jocks and nerds at the Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner for President Obama in 2009.

When I my fiancé and I first started dating, I thought he was a nerd. He taught English. He had opinions about the Avenger movies. He had a cat. He had a Harry Potter tattoo and was excited to discover we were in the same house: Ravenclaw. Ravenclaws have to be nerds, right?

But as we got to know each other, I discovered more and more jock-like tendencies. Somehow I discovered he really liked sports. His hobby was cycling. He has a cat, but prefers dogs. He’d traded in reading novels for listening to podcasts. Not just any podcasts, but sports podcasts. He’d played a lot of sports in his youth. He likes to watch football in television.

Take me, by comparison: I have to read every night before I fall asleep, and 99.9% of the time it’s fiction. I mostly listen to podcasts from NPR, Radiotopia, and Maximum Fun. Those are nerdy podcasts.

My hobbies are knitting and playing video games. I have a cat, and I prefer cats.

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Our sweet kitties, Wally (left) and Sashimi (right).

I won a march madness bracket contest two years ago. I filled it in at the last minute using teams mentioned on NPR during my morning car ride. Then I completely forgot about it until I was told I was winning in a morning meeting. The only sport I watch on TV is baseball, and that’s only if the Tigers are playing in the playoffs. I played a little softball in high school and I was terrible at it.

One day I told him. “I don’t think you’re a nerd. I think you’re more of a jock.” I didn’t tell him I thought he’d actually be a Griffyndor, because that would be too upsetting.

He said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

I think the jock and nerd divide is more of a continuum than a dichotomy. If we put nerd on the left and jocks on the right, I’d be fairly into the left. Not all the way, because I like baseball, live sporting events, and riding my bike. My fiancé would be just to the right of center. He’s not “all jock.” He likes things like Harry Potter and Marvel. He questions things. He plays video games. (Although he grumbles that I want to read all the quest text.) I think he is a Ravenclaw. He’d be the captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.

Even if I’m on the nerd side and he’s on the jock side, there’s a lot of overlap. In the places where we don’t mesh up, we try to be understanding. He gets that I have to read before I can sleep. I get that when he turns the NFL on TV that he actually enjoys watching this and finds it fun.

Okay, maybe I don’t really get it. But I’m okay with it.

A bunch of bright colored graffiti hearts is this blog’s aesthetic. Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash.