When I was in high school, I wanted to join the military, but medical issues kept me out of it. When I was in college, I wanted to join the Peace Corps. Again, medical issues got in the way. I settled on studying English since I did enjoy writing (though I didn’t love it like I do now). Then I didn’t write anything for the better part of a decade. And after college, I was offered a job working with the forest service. I was prepared to accept it, but once again I was turned away because of my medical history.

Now I’m in my thirties, have discovered a love for philosophy, am obsessed with astronomy, and am writing more now than I ever have before.

In many ways, I feel like I wasted the first twenty-something years of my life. But then I wonder whether I would have “discovered” the passions I have today if I didn’t “waste” all that time chasing after dreams that never came true. If I were on deployment in Syria right now, would I be rereading The Republic for the fourth time? Maybe not. And if I were working for the forest service out in Washington, would I be saving up for a new telescope and taking an online course in astronomy? Possibly, but I doubt it.

And that’s precisely why I agree with your contention that we don’t discover our passions — we choose them. I don’t think the excitement I feel for philosophy, astronomy and writing was just waiting for the right time to reveal itself. I think what really happened is that I was denied the chance to do other things in my life (like serving in the military and working for the forest service) that I felt genuinely passionate about, so I had no choice but to find new passions to fill the void that was created when my old passions were taken away from me.

The key for me has been exactly what you talked about, William. I had to make choices, and I had to stick with them. And when those choices didn’t work out, I had to make a whole new set of choices and see where they led.

In other words, I completely and wholeheartedly relate to everything you’re saying in this piece, and I really enjoyed reading it. As always, thanks for posting, and keep up the awesome work!

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store