Writing has always been a passion of mine — the type that makes me always carry a little notebook in my purse in case I come up with an idea for an article or the plot line for a story. My love for words started when I first realized I could enter completely new worlds just by reading, and then later discovered that I, too, could create them if I wanted to. That words were as much available to me as they were for the authors I read.
And yet, even though I felt — and still feel — this strong love for writing and the excitement that it provides, seeing characters come to life after only being in my mind, or concepts brought to reality by my pen, I knew from early on that I would never study writing. There was absolutely no way I was going to ruin my passion for writing by pursuing it in college. And I was so clear on that, because even though I knew writing was my passion, it wasn’t my calling.
I am from Venezuela and have lived here my whole life. To give you a little perspective on how the educational system works around here, let’s start by saying that we don’t have “majors,” much less “minors,” and neither are we offered a variety of subjects and classes to freely choose from when we enter university. However, what we do have is the responsibility to face the decision of what our career is going to be for the rest of our lives at the tender age of 16-17, which is when we graduate high school. Then we enter five years of university, throughout which we study 10 semesters of core curriculum specifically designed for every career path.
So, as you can probably imagine, it’s freaking nerve-racking to be a senior in high school! But on the other hand, what you probably cannot imagine is how much we are encouraged to pursue our passion, to study something that is our true calling. And even when this sounds lovely, it’s also pretty confusing — because what if your calling isn’t the same as your passion? What if you have two sides to you, and not just one? Hell, what if you have multiple sides?!
And this is precisely where I wanted to land: the huge problem it presents to tell people — especially young ones — that their calling and their passion are one and the same, or worse, that it HAS to be the same thing, when to me that’s completely false. Because in reality, I don’t think they are synonyms, but rather antonyms. The reason for that is the same as to why I graduated with a law degree instead of one in communications or journalism.
To me, your calling is something you feel you ought to do in this world — that thing where your talents and skills are going to be most useful towards others, and through which you are going to impact the people around you. And this is not about idealizing a career path and saying that everyone should have this grandiose desire to radically change the world. No, when I talk about impact, I refer to the capacity that lays within all of us to make a difference and to contribute in the community and society we live in. That difference is something we can accomplish by pursuing our calling, because it’s something we know is bigger than ourselves.
That’s what being a lawyer represented to me. I knew that studying law would equip me with the legal knowledge and necessary skill set to succeed in this path. But much more importantly, that it would fulfill this need within me to comprehend the way society functions and, most importantly, how we can improve it. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind about choosing this path over the rest. Even over writing, because writing wasn’t — and still isn’t — my calling. It is passion.
As far as passion, this is something that you desperately love to do, is something you feel naturally drawn to, that brings you profound joy when you are doing it. For some people, passion and calling are the same. It is way easier for them to pick a single path and stick with it, because it completes all sides of them. But that wasn’t my case. I could have never been able to actually study journalism or communications; to me, even though there is always room for improvement in writing, it wasn’t something I saw myself doing actively everyday just for the purpose of doing it. To me, writing is a complement to my law degree, because it is through words that I can advocate for causes I believe in, or make someone change their mind, or at least give a second thought, about an issue regarding human rights. Writing is both my escape and my entrance. It is in writing where everything begins and ends. But it is in being a lawyer where everything develops and unfolds.
We must have the courage to pursue everything that sparks joy in our hearts, even if they seem completely different from one another, even if the mere conjunction of both seems illogical. Do it! Be as well-rounded a person as you wish to be, and pursue everything that makes you happy, not just a passion. Most of all, don’t settle for trying to narrow it down to just one thing. Maybe you have multiple things that excite you — give yourself the right to explore all of them.
Roxana is a 23-year-old Venezuelan lawyer with a passion for writing, Pablo Neruda, and overly sweet coffee.
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