Everyone is defined by something.
In the same sense that semantics play a role in establishing context for a word of many meanings, people are divergent due to what defines them as people. May they be defined by appearance, skills, relationships, heritage, and/or experiences in the past, we are all given context of where we are in life by what we believe best represents us as individuals.
Here cuts in the existential question of wanting to know what defines people based on the ingredients that make up their daily lives, and how an individual goes through the hoops and spectrums of such.
I stumbled upon this account while browsing Quora:
I think we are defined by our character, our relationships, our energies, our dreams and to some extent, through our achievements, all subject to time.
Passions are impetuous, and are often fueled by conflict. I think they’re too mercurial to be relied on to define identity. Some people never seem to develop “passions”, but they have drive and consistent energy that they apply to everything they do, and achieve their dreams. Some people with great passions destroy their relationships, endanger their character, never direct their energy. Their passions sputter and die.
Energies is an awkward word that’s used here to try to capture the idea of “life force”. This is an easy question to answer, but difficult to explain.
Passions aren’t enough on their own.
— Marie Stein, in reply to this Quora thread
It’s interesting how passion may or may not define us as a whole. And yet, even when we are not completely defined by the things we are passionate about, it will always shine through in the smallest cracks of us as people. You may see this when you are asked about a good friend whom you also work with, completing specific tasks in the same office as you, and yet when you talk about the person you will most likely have a spiel about what they do and who they are; after all, we humans tend to not enjoy talking about things that could be found in an instruction manual.
In one of his TED Talks, Richard St. John relayed the very memorable line by Kathleen Lane of WorkCard, “Stress isn’t working 15 hours at a job you like. Stress is working 15 minutes at a job you dislike.”
This is exactly what makes us human. And no technology can ever replace how much passion we can bring to bear.
We do, we make, we feel. We are fueled to move and naturally work towards success because of what moves and works within us. Psychologist Abraham Maslow is one of the many intellectuals who scientifically put this in perspective, one that can be easily understood through his Hierarchy of Needs.
We invest ourselves into everything we do, no matter how some may say otherwise. If one does not connect with a certain task, it immediately shows. This is true in all aspects – in relationships, in our jobs, even the way we use inanimate objects shows how much we really care about it or not.
There’s a reason why I believe that passion should always be the root of what are most important us. Because if it is anything but that degree of love and dedication allocated to the efforts we exert, then we are stuck in a loop of frustrations that bear mediocre fruit and nothing else.
…you must engrave deeply in your mind and never forget: your emotional commitment to what you are doing will be translated into your work.
If you go at your work with half a heart, it will show in the lackluster results and in the laggard way in which you reach the end.
If you are doing something primarily for money and without a real emotional commitment, it will translate into something that lacks a soul and that has no connection to you.
You may not see this, but you can be sure that the public will feel it and that they will receive your work in the same lackluster spirit it was created in.
If you are excited and obsessive in the hunt, it will show in the details. If your work comes from a place deep within, its authenticity will be communicated.
— Robert Greene, ‘Mastery’
Robert Greene’s book, Mastery, is probably one of the best books I have ever read. It covers success stories of people who have mastered their field through sheer hours of working through and through, only keeping their eye on what they are truly passionate about.
This is a book that speaks about the ideal life of having to make money out of what you love doing, of what you do best. But the wonderful thing about it is the approach is realistic, and is based on the realities of hardships faced by famous names interviewed for the book. If you have not read it and are interested in mastering your own craft, I would highly recommend reading it as soon as possible.
Passion has always spoken to me ever since my realization that creating art was indispensable.
I’ve been in different places where I had to briefly suppress my creativity in order to cater to what ‘sells’ to many; after all, nobody knows when the next Great Depression is going to happen. And I’m sure a lot of people, if not the majority of the working population, had to somehow give up what they are passionate about in order to climb up the corporate ladder and heed to the call of life’s bills.
But here’s the thing, and I do love preaching about this — the frustration will always find its way to remind you of how much you are suppressing it. The smallest things like not being able to play your favorite instrument, or reading your queue of books, or playing video games during your spare time, they creep up in your system somehow and pile up to remind you that you need to relax a little bit and do something that you actually like doing.
“Too often we make a separation in our lives—there is work and there is life outside work, where we find real pleasure and fulfillment. Work is often seen as a means for making money so we can enjoy that second life that we lead. Even if we derive some satisfaction from our careers we still tend to compartmentalize our lives in this way. This is a depressing attitude, because in the end we spend a substantial part of our waking life at work. If we experience this time as something to get through on the way to real pleasure, then our hours at work represent a tragic waste of the short time we have to live.”
— Robert Greene, ‘Mastery’
Separating what you enjoy doing and what you do for a living is a sad reality that often needs to be swallowed. Lucky are those who do what they love for a living, for they never have to really work against their will in order to become better — they just continuously, naturally do.
So returns the question: how are we defined as people of this world?
Personally, values and faith are important. In terms of having to work, having to make a living, having to grind every day to the road of success, these are what I place importance to the most.
If there is one thing I do not wish to be defined by however, it is money.
Yes, how ironic is it that money is the last thing I want in the equation of making a living.
Perhaps in a broader sense, material things are what I try to not associate myself with as an individual. Given, everybody needs money to continue living, but I do not necessarily prioritize money when it comes to choosing what to do for a living.
Is it not a truly unpleasant feeling to just be judged based on how much you earn or how much your family has in the bank? What about the things in life that truly matter, like being kind towards one another, treating others with respect, being responsible, honest, loving? Do those things matter less when you are a couple of thousand bucks richer than your neighbor? Is it acceptable behavior to look down to employees earning minimum wage just because someone’s job title is of an executive level?
This is the paradox that money brings upon us, in the context of employment: our skills define how much money we make, and how much money we make can in turn help us determine the skills we are still willing to develop. It is the exhausting cycle that the capitalist world brings us.
The indefinite optimist in me places great trust in the process of being humanly capable of using passion to become successful.
Our competency and capacities as people cannot be completely defined simply by how much revenue we contribute to a company; they are also defined by us as individuals, with both intrinsic and extrinsic factors abound. Of course, the former is, in some terms untrue, e.g. if you run a restaurant, profit is the surefire way to tell that your food is loved by many.
The keyword is ‘love’; the keyword is ‘passion’. If we are constantly driven solely by the mere subjective standards, opinions, and pressures placed upon us by others, where do we go as individuals? Where do our true interests go? What happens to the starry-eyed dreams we exclaimed while we were children, untouched by the harsh realities we see when we become adults?
If you love what you do, you have it lucky. The path to success will be less tedious than how it already is, in tradition. If you are doing what you’re truly passionate about, the thirst to improve will naturally come to you. Nobody needs to dictate you of what should or should be done when you know you love what you do; and if people see this passion emanate, soon enough the money will no longer be a struggle — the money will come to you on its own. That is how the richest of rich got to where they are, after all.
The truth is, not all of us have it that easy. Real life isn’t just fairy tales and rainbows, and this is much easier said than done. But the good news is this: you can always choose to gear yourself towards a direction that you love, and whenever that may be for you will always be the right time to do it.