By Suchita S.

We read brotips, tumblr, brain pickings, watch TED talks, so on and so forth, all things that echo the same sentiment – go after what you want, find your passion. One found, and still finds, inspiration in ‘Sky above me, earth below me, fire within me’ and ‘Be you, do your own thing, and work hard,’ ‘Don’t be like the rest of the World,’ and of course ‘Find what you love and chase after it!’ We thought that it was as simple as finally finding what drives you, and that’s all it would take, and that’s all that mattered. So we found it, after much {or none} dabbling and experimenting, and in that moment our life became everything we wanted it to be, and that moment is what true happiness really felt like. But then the brevity of the situation hits, and all of a sudden we’re left thinking – this is not what I signed up for.

When you start something of your own, especially when it’s driven by sheer interest and desire, you pursue it because it brings this unquantifiable joy to you. You find beauty and breath in the simple things – for me it was a new discovery in the City I call home, a conversation with a stranger who grew into a friend, a tryst about town by myself, a book in hand and an idea in mind. The thought of knowing that there were no limitations to my growth and learning, that I was as big or small as my own imagination was invigorating, enchanting and motivating. So I gave in to my hearts desire, took a chance, found a belief, and began a run that has slowly unfolded into a long and winding marathon of sorts. The truth about finding my passion? It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. And the challenge will never be you or yourself. I’ve found a way to deal with all my inner conflicts and struggles. I’ve gone for runs, walks, met friends, drunk wine to resolve those. The challenge is all the dozen and counting things that constantly remind me of how much more there is to learn, how far I have to go, and that sometimes I can’t make it on my own.

I said this at a TEDx talk once, and I find myself echoing these words ever so often- your idea is never really your own. Because I, sitting here in flesh and bones, am a composition of every person I’ve met, every experience I’ve lived, the books I’ve read and the movies I’ve watched. There’s a bit of every inspiration and each interaction in the way I conduct myself and in the way I think. What they didn’t tell me about finding my passion, is that it’s not mine to keep, it’s mine to share. I need to love it, need to hold on to it, but the only way it’ll grow is if I let others have a share and stake {literally, sometimes} in its well-being. Others can share my passion too, you know? It solely comes down to my willingness to let others in, and give them a voice and an opportunity to make it their own. This path is difficult, because it requires me to let go, to trust, to bear the brunt of mistakes that aren’t mine, and to share accolades and regard with others. But by overcoming the limitations of my own ego and learning how to take people along, slowing down for others, and understanding a colleague’s biggest strength and weakness- I’ve found that it’s the road best taken.

I’ve met people who’ve supported me without demanding anything in return. A few good people have seen me through my weakest moments, days of glory, and everything in between. But when one lives in a world that is governed by quantifying actions, and one in which everything has a monetary value, I’ve taught myself to play that game too. What they didn’t tell me about finding my passion is that money changes a lot of things. It brings out the best and worst in others – colleagues, acquaintances, and even me. When I’ve been in a position where money becomes the sole bone of contention in an association of any kind, I’ve found it best to give the person sitting across me the benefit of the doubt. This has not only helped me dismiss my own greed and monetary glutton {as I like to call it}, it also helped me assess motives and incentives. At the end of the day, it’s my work and it’s the end result that should be of concern. How and the extent to which I involve people around me is my prerogative, and knowing what works as an incentive for them is half the battle won. So I’ve learnt to give to those, unconditionally, whose inputs and thoughts inspire me and help deliver results. And I’ve set clear boundaries and task sheets with those who are in it for the dough and fame. And I’ve found that never should I hold a grudge against anybody, or stay in comfortable complacency of  anyone’s intentions.

This idea and dream that I love needs balance sheets, a legal team, marketing plans, networking, working weekends, accountants, interns, employees, design, sleepless nights, broken conversations, tears, sweat and things that I thought I was incapable of. Most importantly, my dream needs to pay bills. And what they didn’t tell me about finding my passion is that it needs to have a solid revenue model, an input-output structure, and hard truth- it needs to be driven by more than just a pretty smile and a positive attitude. Sure, it’s taken me a long way. But there’s a significant half that’s involved having a clear understanding of projections, figures, RoI’s, people management, HR, contracts, and events and evenings spent in building belief and networks around what I do. Based on the nature of my business- oh yes, it’s a business now- I’ve needed to evaluate everything, and think more often than just doing. That gets frustrating, heart-breaking, and sometimes makes me forget why I started this journey. But in moments like this, I take time out to do what I love and get back to the basics. When I’m down and out, I read the first article I wrote. I write. I read articles by others. I meet someone I’ve never met before. I smile at a stranger {nothing sleazy, all kosher.} And that’s when I reignite my passion.

For me, following my heart hasn’t been the hardest part. Keeping my head above my heart, opening up my dreams to include those of others, and working diligently and hard to achieve collective success has been the climb. To know that kindness may not be reciprocated, that perseverance comes with no definite reward, and when the dust settles, I just may be the only man {woman} standing- yet, doing what I’ve set out for myself, that to me is finding my passion.

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much.”

From If by Rudyard Kipling.

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