August 17, 2013

How to Face Pain in the Pursuit of Passion. ~ Caitlin Rose Kenney

The past few days I have been unusually manic, neurotic and scattered.

I have been identifying serious “problems” that need to be fixed like buying light bulb replacements, changing internet providers and stressing about when I am going “figure out my life.”

I was struck with a debilitating amount of indecision and attention deficit symptoms.

After attempting to do several productive things and failing at all of them I decided to take a shower, cleanse, get clean, clear my thoughts, start over. This conversation with myself started to reveal what was really going on inside:

I am scared.

What am I scared of?

I am scared that my community will reject what I have created.

If they rejected it, what would happen?

I would be letting down my employers and colleagues.

Would you survive this shame?


So began the contemplation of what stops us from pursuing our passion. Because I am in over my head in the pursuit of passion and I don’t know how it’s going to end up. I have been living my dream of teaching yoga for over two years and to my dismay it hasn’t always felt good.

For every mountain I have climbed that gave me self-worth and faith that I was having a positive impact on those around me, I have also experienced landslides that have made me want to crawl back the way I came instead of trying for the next peak. I have seen beautiful landscapes full of community and growth and I have seen deception and political drama that makes me think (for a second) that asceticism is the only option.

Really though, this is all a part of growing up. Of living and experiencing and gleaning wisdom in the only way one can, through paradox and time.

For a while, I didn’t get why people didn’t pursue their passion. For 22 years I played the game of life and I came out with pretty good scores in family, education, social connection, love and future success.

As soon as I saw the void—the space where my next “move” was not pre-determined by cohort nor culture—I travelled. I went to Bali, Australia, London, India, France and Egypt.

And I became a yoga teacher.

My peers admired me and they said, “I wish I could do that.” I told them they could. I thought they were crazy if they didn’t try—at what point in your life are you more free than your early twenties? The funny thing about social media is that you can see when people are doing cool shit they care about.

Now, it’s not a totally accurate presentation of how well they are doing, but it is an amazing indicator of passion—when people are passionate about something they share it. They want affirmation that what they are doing is interesting and worthwhile. I know there are plenty of people who pursue their passions and don’t update Facebook and Instagram, but I bet they find a way to share what they are doing. Please, if you are doing something rad—share it!

This brings me to the passion cycle.

If you pursue your passion you can’t help but share it, and when you share it two things happen: reinforcement and rejection. The reinforcement feels so damn good, you think ‘Yes, this is what I am supposed to be doing, this is why people tell me I was born to do this.’

Yoga teachers, you know this feeling. We teach a class where we not only articulate the nuances of gracefully organizing body parts, we also start channelling some greater wisdom that is dropping like sweet nectar directly into the souls of our students. We’re thinking, sweet, I love what I am doing and it loves me back.

Then we get rejected. Someone was mortally offended that we dropped the f-bomb in class, we didn’t create a “sacred” space, we were too spiritual, we were too “workshop-y,” etcetera.

Sometimes we get pummeled with rejection. I am not going to lie; sometimes I wake-up and I ask myself “What am I doing? Maybe I don’t want this forever…” I get really scared, because if I don’t want this, than what do I want? And not knowing what I want is ten times scarier than being told that I suck at what I love.

I realize that one of the strongest reasons we do not pursue our passions is because we are afraid of rejection and failure. But guess what? If we never contemplate what we are passionate about we won’t find it.

If I never share my passion, I will never be reinforced. If I don’t put passion into my equation for a well-balanced life it’s not going to be a part of my life.

Because we create our reality.

I can tell you now that I will have a life-long love affair with pursuing what I am passionate about. It’s a rollercoaster and I love how dynamic it is. It reminds me that I am alive, because acceptance and rejection make me cry and ache with happiness and sadness.

If life consisted of just one or other it would be like sitting in a lukewarm bath, yuck. We would lose our ability to distinguish how we feel, how we love and who we are.

Recalibrate your pursuit of passion. Identify what you love and if you have no freakin’ clue, go get one. Travel. Make new friends. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Remember that finding out what you don’t like is one step closer to discovering what makes you tick.

Take a long hard look at your lifestyle and ask yourself, could I approach pursuing my passion in a more effective way? Perhaps a slight change in your priorities will yield the time, space and resources you need to follow what you love.

Be willing to reassess time and time again, because the passion pains can and will creep back in. And don’t forget to love friends and family too, that’s important.


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Asst. Ed: Renee Picard / Ed: Bryonie Wise


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