I know, I know, that sounds like bad advice — terrible, even. After all, isn’t college about pursuing what you’re passionate about and taking advantage of all the opportunities you have to do so?
To an extent, yes. You shouldn’t throw your passions out the window altogether to do things you hate. Knowing what you’re passionate about and exploring that is a key step toward discovering what you want to do for the rest of my life.
Maybe I should clarify: Don’t follow your passions. At least, don’t only follow your passions.
Follow your curiosity instead.
Because while following your passions can lead you to new discoveries, further your academic and career pursuits, or inspire you to reach new heights, doing things you’re passionate about can also be stressful — really stressful — because you love those things so much. Every mistake or roadblock that separates you from what you love can feel like heartbreak, and it’s not exactly a feeling anyone wants to feel all the time. If you spend your whole life doing and chasing what you love, you’re bound to hit some of those roadblocks, and feel some of that heartbreak, along the way.
When you follow your curiosity instead, you might discover something new that you love. You might have an experience that takes you completely out of your comfort zone. You might realize that there is a lot more to life than the one or two things you’re most passionate about.
If you’re like me, you might apply for a radio internship on a whim, and realize that there’s so much more to journalism than you thought. Or you might end up in a class about food history, like I did, and decide to become a history minor — something that high school me never thought I’d do in a million years, because I was so dead-set on my passion for journalism and writing.
When you follow your curiosity, you realize things about yourself that you might not if you were only pursuing what you were passionate about. You end up with new perspectives, fresh ideas, and even more curiosity. You might change your path completely, or continue chasing what you love with renewed energy and passion.
Her answer to my question?
You guessed it: “Follow your curiosity.”
After all, she said, “the worst thing that could happen is that you spend your whole life following your curiosity.” That’s one outcome I find hard to disagree with.