On stress and passion


A friend shared a quote with me this morning, and I'm struggling to put my finger on why I do not completely agree with it, despite the fact that he maintains that it's dead-on accurate:

Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress.
Working hard for something we love is called passion.
~ Simon Sinek

Perhaps it's because I don't think of things in terms of love/hate all that frequently. Honestly, I don't. If something needs doing, I do it. If I don't have the spoons for it right then, I wait until I do. I'm patient that way. Maybe it's because I don't truly have any overriding passions in my life? I am fairly dull, and I am self-aware enough to know this. I'm uninteresting precisely because I find doing things, even wonderful activities, emotionally challenging.

Perhaps that's all this is. Vastly different perspectives? As someone with destructive social anxiety, major depression, and who knows what other as-yet undiagnosed issues, it's strikingly difficult for me to leave the house most days. Even when I'm going somewhere fun, like out to eat or shopping. Other times I practically skip out to my car just to drive to work, which by most accounts is a fairly stressful place to be!

The fact that it takes me so much more energy than your average person simply to leave the house means doing so is stressful. For me, the act of forcing myself out of safe places simply is stressful. That's part and parcel for those of us with mental issues. Things most people take for granted are hard for me. And some things that you probably find difficult, boring, or uninteresting, I take mild enjoyment in mastering.

Does this mean, going by the quote's logic, that I "don't care about" leaving the house? No, going outside or into the city are both things I need to do occasionally to stay alive. I like going for hikes in the woods. I enjoy driving, even though some parts of driving are terribly hard on me. (Freeways. Merges. Road rage. All of these things make me crave the safety of home.) Does that mean driving is "too stressful" and I thus do not care about it? I do not suspect I even need to answer that. Obviously that is an untrue equivalency.

Does this mean on those days I am happy about getting to work, even though I know I am going to struggle there, that I "love work"? No. Again, I don't love work. It's a necessity, and one that most of us wish we could do without. Yet I go because it is expected of me, and I do not have a choice. I am passionate about keeping my job, because without that I would suffer even worse kinds of anxiety than those presented to me in an office setting. But this passion is not in any way synonymous with love. It just means I'm fearful of one specific consequence over another, and invested in maintaining the status quo.

No, I don't agree with this quote. It fails on so many levels to make sense to me, even though I wish it did. Human emotions and drives are not that simple.

For me and others like me, being alive is stressful. Love is stressful. Even passion is stressful! Trying to separate these things that are so inextricably intertwined is ludicrous!

The rare moments that are not stressful? Those. Those would be my true passion.

...If only I knew what they were.

Categories work, mental health