Hinduism talks a lot about fulfilling your duties while also making sure you don’t worry about the fruits of your actions. To put this simply (and to put it into perspective): Do what you need to do without that desire for reaping the benefits. This is difficult to do today with the pressures of being successful and important and capable. Like, how can I passionately pursue political science without worrying about my ability to become a politician? How can I enjoy my education and the process of accumulating knowledge without worrying about my GPA? How can I do ANYTHING without worrying about how people will view me and my work?
I worried a lot about this in high school. I constantly cared about what other people thought of me. For some reason, entering college was a different experience for me and my work as a student, as a writer, as a leader, and as an activist. I was (and am) just so excited to be in college; to be able to spread and absorb information and different ideas and perspectives. That excitement alongside passion drove me to do so many things in a year: Join multiple organizations (for the fun of it), expand on my writing, speak up about my opinions, and more. Never once did I worry about how cool I would seem to other people, but about how cool it was to be doing what I loved. What. A. Feeling.
About three weeks ago I received a letter congratulating me for receiving a leadership award that only one freshman a year has the honor of getting. I was in shock because 1) I didn’t even know it EXISTED and 2) Someone important at my school thought I deserved it?! I am being 100% honest when I say that if I was the person I was in high school and if I was aware this award existed, I probably would have gunned for it from the beginning. But there was definitely some passion and some honesty lacking in high-school-Upasna, so pretty sure she wouldn’t have deserved it anyways.
So yes, I went up on stage and was presented this award and nice things were said about me in front of many people. But for some reason I am excited not only about the award, but about the things I’ve done to receive it.
I’m not going to list all of the things I’ve done right now, I’m sure the last statement in the previous sentence sort of cued that. I’m here to tell you that it can be difficult to stop yourself from dreaming of recognition and fame and the success that is an umbrella for it all, but it shouldn’t be difficult to find out what drives you and what you’re passionate about. Whether it’s pop music, mathematics, video games, politics, art – there is something in this world that you’re passionate about and an element within that passion that can drive you to do create determination to do so many wonderful things. Looking back and being proud and in admiration of yourself is so much better in the long term, much better than counting all of the awards you have received, which leaves you to only want more. As Leslie Knope says, “I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself.”
Hell, life isn’t easy. It’s not easy to constantly focus on your passion (I say this after I just finished reforming a six page research paper my Biology Professor emailed my partner and I about two hours before the deadline. I quote – “It deserves at most a C”). It’s not easy to always be motivated or driven. But finding the right time and place to use your drive is extremely important. So important. Quantity over quality, if that makes sense. It’s how you use your passion, not how often it’s mindfully present.
If there’s something you’re passionate about, fight for it. Live for it. Do not worry about how your passion is perceived, worry about how you’re fueling it. Most of all, act on it.
Quote from the Bhagavad Gita.
Photo from here.