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Is “Follow Your Passion” Really The Best Advice?

You might know the answer already but this has the potential to change your mindset

Instead of beating around the bush, let me just start things by saying that — “NO, IT’S NOT.” And to give you a better idea of why I believe that, let’s talk about a boy from a small village and his ambitions.

An Unfathomable Question

Back at home, when the boy was 10, somebody asked him “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” His answer was, as usual, I don’t know. But, everyone knew he was exceptionally good at Mathematics and Science. He was the best at his school (an A-grade student) who everyone thought would become an engineer or a doctor — just like every person in the society. However, if you think about it, the naive boy didn’t even know what an engineer or doctor was at his age.

I believe this is a stupid question to ask a child because their mind is brimming with curiosity. They want to be open to all ideas and explore everything they could ever imagine. But, they’ll look up to the most successful people in their vicinity they know — it could be a teacher, doctor, or an engineer and give you an answer. This offers them the opportunity to draw comparisons to the best person they know.

So, the next objective is how quickly they can start following in the foot steps of that “ideal person” they are inspired to become one day. And stop following their passion because there is none, WHY? It’s simple. It’s because they haven’t tried anything that could blow their fucking mind. It could be arts, science or something that can inspire them to create new and extraordinary things. However, our society always asks us to “Play It Safe”.

Years have passed now. The boy is 15 now and the same old question has an answer quite different from the original one. If you want hints, it’s a single word answer. Engineer.

We Are All Sheep

Now the question is — why engineer and not a doctor? Why pick science and not arts or even business studies? Well, because this teenage boy now hates Biology, Social Science, and almost everything else except Math and Physics. Again, why? Why does this boy only have one option in life? Who is responsible for this?

Let me break it down for you. Being from a village, the best options that the boy had available to him were a public school (with his uncle as a math teacher and sister a science wizkid) but the lack of any proper guidance. He was not good at memorising things and wanted a hands-on experience, the perfect recipe to pursue engineering.

This was the stage where he got a great (hmhmm… sarcasm) advise from his peers and it was “Just follow your passion and you will be successful”. So, he then looked around and came to the conclusion that engineering does fall in line with his interests. The decision was made and his family was all but ecstatic.

Now here comes the twist in his story. The boy who had only been exposed to singular opinions from the start was greeted with a new and expansive world in college, where he was smashed with opinions other than his parents or neighbours.

The boy grasped to the thin string of this new reality and started to learn every new thing that he can. He started exploring the world. Trying new things to not only shape his life but also his lifestyle. He was curious to learn everything and everyone around.

Now, he’s done with engineering and a lot of time has passed. But, he gets confused between what to do and what not to? He saw ample opportunity in this field but his passion failed him. Now, he has no idea what his passion is?

Passion can be misplaced sometimes

There was a time when the society, the boy’s upbringing and opinion of his parents mattered the most. It molded his perception of the world and drove him to the passion that other’s wanted to see him follow. Yes, he was blindsided.

I’m this boy from the village, who has learned his lesson that ‘Follow Your Passion’ is the worst advice anybody could give to a young and naive mind. All the neurons that fire in a kid’s head (yes, I did study a little biology) are given instructions by everyone around them. The idea to become a successful banker, engineer or an architect is put inside our heads long before we know that we will have a choice down the road.

You never picked up that guitar or played cricket enough to bat alongside Virat Kohli, which you may now regret. That could’ve been your passion — the one you picked. It could have been anything that made you smile when you achieved even the smallest goal you set for yourself.

But now, you sit here, thinking how fate determined your destiny. But, my friend, you are not late and you can still find your passion. You just need to look around, explore and place a finger on the pulse of your being. It will be a risk but it will be worth it, I mean it.


Originally published on medium.com

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Coming of Age, Memoir, Opinion Piece, Personal Narrative, Self-Help


  1. I don’t know why society places so much emphasis on becoming a doctor or lawyer or engineer. Of the three, the engineer is the most attractive. But one needs to be more left brain and have the natural ability to achieve success as an engineer. That would leave me out, as Im more right brain and more about the arts and creativity.

    Yes, I believe in following your passion, if you have one.or even know what it is.

    I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks for sharing.