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Don’t let your driving passion drive you mad.

Krista Moyer

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Published: October 17, 2013 at 1:45 PM [UTC]

I think that sometimes we are ruled by fear. We are afraid of not succeeding, afraid of being unhappy, afraid that to change one’s mind is tantamount to failure.

I was young once, and remember wanting desperately to pursue my passion. Fortunately for me, I was allowed to by circumstance, and driven enough to succeed. In doing so, I both fulfilled my dream and killed it, for I found that I was deeply unsuited to the environment that my craft exists within. Although I was (and remain) highly skilled and an excellent craftsman, the long hours, poor working conditions, and emotional roller coaster that is inherent in the field eventually drove me out of it. Sadly, the experience tainted the joy I once held in my craft. While I still perform it on an extremely limited basis, the associated feelings from that abandoned first career prevent me from finding the enjoyment in it that I once did.

For that reason, I have been very careful to limit my relatively newfound violin experience to only those things which promote my own happiness. It’s not as if I could make a living from it at this juncture, nor do I feel as if it is my path. It is better for me to separate my career (that which funds my life) from my pastimes (that which feeds my soul) in order to protect and secure my happiness. I envy those who can find both security and fulfillment from pursuing what gives them joy.

People can get too wrapped up in thinking that they must make a career out of the thing they love. They fail to see that sometimes it is better to secure their futures with a humdrum “normal” career path so that they can enjoy their driving passion without the stress of attempting to make a living from it. I once felt that if I didn’t work at a job that I loved, that I couldn’t be fulfilled, when exactly the opposite turned out to be true. In truth, my lack of attachment to what I do now is what allows me to go home at night and throw myself into practicing the violin. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

It has been twenty years since I changed careers. Often now, it feels as if that past life happened to someone else entirely. However, without that experience, my path would have been very different, so I embrace every moment of both the good and the bad parts associated with it.

I do not write this to discourage anyone from pursuing a career in performance. If you truly want to, than by all means, go for it! However, I would gently remind you that it is possible for one to find joy in pursuing excellence for its own sake. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. You never know where life will lead you if you are open to the possibilities.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on October 17, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Krista, I can relate to a lot what you’ve said. As someone who has changed careers many times, it certainly has worked for me to keep a job that is rewarding in many ways, especially in enabling me to explore life and interests outside of it. However, I see a big difference in pursuing one’s dream and pursuing something one excels. It is often the latter gets one into trouble, but hardly ever the former. We can be extremely good at something that turns out we are not passionate about and it is very hard to pull out of it once we've got ourselves deep into it. Pursuing one's true passion is like you are playing all the time. For this reason, I feel your title is a bit misleading. I'd say let your passion drive you mad and then some, if you want a great career, not just a good one.

Of course the hardest thing is figuring out what one’s lifelong dream is and what is just one loves to do only during this period of life. In some case one has to just try it out because like any kind of journey, one can write the script only after the fact.

To me, a great career comes from successfully pursuing one’s dream and I happen to marry one who is a good example of this success. Of course not everyone is so lucky but I’d argue that when in doubt, it’s better to just hope for the best and plunge into what you are passionate about even if it may not turn out to be what you’ve dreamed of. At the very least you’ve tried hard and by so doing, you’ve traveled the path many don’t have the luxury. I believe nothing you’ve put your heart in is going to be wasted. Imagine if you hadn’t given your passion a decent try, do you think you would still be so confident today about who you are and what you’re having now? I certainly wouldn’t.

Having said that, I think we are basically agree that we should keep our options open and it's good to have plan B, plan C, ....


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Krista, I also find a lot of resonance with this blog. I think if I felt like I had to make a career of the violin I would end up quitting. Even now, whenever it veers too much that way--when rehearsals come too fast on each other's heels, when I feel too much pressure to get something done, when I have to learn music that doesn't inspire me--after I'm finished with it I end up just taking a break for a few days to a week to recover and remember what I liked about the violin in the first place.

I just changed careers recently and I am enjoying the learning curve on the new one. I will probably do it again at least once more before I retire from paid work.

For a long time I envied people who had a passion for one thing, knew what that was, and made a career out of it. But I'm starting to come around to accepting that there are other ways of doing one's life's work. "Passion" also means "suffering" and I'm just as happy to keep that side of it to a minimum.

From Eric Rowe
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 10:51 AM
From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 1:40 AM
OMG, my life painted in your blog as well... :)

Only, before almost killing myself (figurativly not litterally!) for two years in a career path that I didn't like because I was too stuburn to be "weak ennough" to surrender, I realized that the real strengh is to walk away from what you truly dislike at first sight and have the courage and hope that you will find something MUCH better.

Now, as an "older" student in her 20s, I finally found a wonderful path in medical electrophysiology. I wouldn't say I like it as much as violin but it's still very fun and rewarding. You have the feeling that you really make something usefull, efficient and scientific. I really feel it's "my place" as far as job is concerned.

Violin is the place my heart belongs... which is different :)

I was one of those who didn't think one could have as much joy in a hobby than a professional.

Well, I now think, as you, that we can have as much and sometimes even more joy because we play what we like and do not have pressure and will eventually be good earlier or later. Doesn't matter, we have the time to get there...

Thanks for your nice blog!

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