There is a common misconception that the ultimate goal of enlightenment is attained when profession and purpose coalesce; become a single entity, a ‘pufession’, if you will. However, it is this writer’s humble opinion that this is a fallacy. A multifaceted 3D image will always trump a one dimensional drawing. Your profession is one side, your passion is another, once they mix, as George Costanza has taught us, worlds will collide, and one will eventually overcome the other.
By their very nature, profession and passion are worlds apart. A profession is defined as a paid occupation involving prolonged training and formal qualification. Colloquially, it is referred to as the “9 to 5”, “the trenches”, “the office”, “the home away from home” and sometimes, “prison”. For almost 90% of cases, profession is the tool used to pay the bills at the end of the month. In a sense, a profession is both the cost and income of living on this planet. Quite the vicious cycle, it pays you monetarily but requires a hefty sacrifice of your time (and in some unfortunate cases, mental health).
Passion, however, is defined as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. That driving factor that wakes you up at 4 am with an abundance of energy equivalent to excessive consumption of caffeine, with no jittery side effects except a zest for that which propels you forward. Contrary to how you spend your day at your profession willing the clock forward, your passion absorbs time as an afterthought. Your passion could be singing in the shower, running around the streets of the city, building complex creations from match sticks or even setting up the most epic domino effect in all of history.
In your profession, you must be professional; you must show up dressed in a certain way, speak with a specific tone, arrive at a pre-agreed time and interact with certain restrictions. Professionalism is a form of collaborative dictatorship whereby a group of professionals draw up a rule book with goals and consequences, move and counter-move, budgets and fiscal years, profits and losses etc.
Passion projects come with no such restrictions. You could be lying in bed at 3 am on a Tuesday morning and suddenly get up all energetic and faux-caffeinated to write that line of poetry you saw in your dream, or paint that amazing picture you glimpsed just as your eyes fluttered open and a jet of light flooded your irises. You can be sitting in your pajamas or upon your solitary throne (you know the one where sense of time is lost and a sense of relief is achieved), there are no restrictions, no requirements.
In a sense, profession is the final resting place of passion. A spark is ignited within the human psyche in the form of passion, it becomes your escape from the tiresome monotony of the day, a skill that is honed and perfected until such time it becomes your profession. That spark is now a roaring flame, however the human condition will seek to replace this passion turned profession with another passion, in order to keep the momentum moving forward.
Passion is the tool with which we maintain our firm grip on sanity, lest it evaporate in a wisp of professional pressure. We all need an escape every now and then, a chance to connect with our inner self and explore all the limitless possibilities we have to offer. The road to profession is paved with passion, for once upon a time, every successful blue chip company started off as someone’s favorite pastime from their regular profession.
As soon as the once lackadaisical pastime of passion, which could be done for no monetary return in the past, metamorphoses into profession, a raison d’être that puts food on the table, without which there would be no said food on the table, at that point it ceases to be a passion. One can still be passionate about their profession, however that does not make it their passion, as now we have introduced deadlines, writers block, unpaid bills, needs and wants and above all, performance pressure.
In all persons there must exist a balance between profession and passion. Focusing on the former alone will lead to failure, focusing on the latter alone will lead to lethargy. For without passion, there is no purpose, and without profession, there is no income.
Profession and passion, two sides of the same sane coin.
For more on Ayman, follow him on Instagram @lordaymz. Featured image from Unsplash.