As we explore the idea of passion, and helping our students find their passion, we need to clarify what passion actually means.
When we think about the idea of passion, we are most often referring to that which we like or love, hobbies that we enjoy, or something that brings excitement. While we can be passionate about a hobby and enjoy things that we like, when we talk about passion we are talking about something much deeper and stronger.
Many people do not know that the word “passion” actually comes from the Latin root word “passio” which means “suffering”. The word passion in Old English was actually used to describe suffering. But here is the key to understanding this further, it was not just describing suffering for suffering’s sake, but instead pure and willing suffering. These are two very different things. In one you can suffer because of something that has been done to you, or a state you are in, while the other is suffering because of your choosing. You have put yourself willingly into a position of suffering.
This is a very important distinction when it comes to the idea of finding your passion. If your “passion” is something that you simply enjoy, like, or even love, you will quit when it gets tough or risky. A passion is something that drives you from within, something that motivates you to get back up, to keep going, to make sacrifices even when it means you will face pain and hardship.
Deep down we already knew this. When we see passion in someone we always see that suffering has accompanied it. Pick up the biography of any person you consider a success in life and it is guaranteed that part of their story is “willing suffering.” They may love what they do, but that is partly because they are willing to suffer to do what they love.
So again, the question we ask as a school and as parents is what does this mean for our children? I think part of it is to remember the importance of us teaching grit to our students. To help them see that the truly meaningful and good things in life come from working hard, making sacrifices, persevering, and yes suffering. Another step is to let them engage and become involved in the many different aspects of school life – art, athletics, drama, forensics, leadership, music, service, worship, etc. When and if we see a student who begins to show passion for something (with a willingness to suffer), encourage it, support it, invest in it. I believe that it is our responsibility as a school and as parents to help our children find their passion, knowing that it will involve some suffering, but confident that if they find it, they will also find success.