When Is It Time to Give Up on Pursuing Your Passion?
For the past six months, all my photography equipment has been stored in my closet, simply collecting dust like a forgotten antique.
Six months is a long time for me.
Ever since I was 18 years old, I felt like a camera was an extension of my arm. And every day, I would always be working on something photography-related — planning my next project, learning how to make my images better, or finding out what kind of gear I would need to buy next. The list goes on.
But for the past six months, my list was non-existent.
It’s true that COVID-19 kept me from going out there to shoot. But I know deep down, that’s just an excuse.
Six months ago, when I hopped on the plane back home from my year-long trip across Asia, I held this negative, passive attitude towards my work — maybe I suck at this.
I quit my job, flew across the entire globe, and bet on my skills to create content and images that would carry me to success. I’ve tried a lot of things to make it work, but in the end, what did I have to show for it?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Sure, I gained some followers and I was able to collaborate with some small brands. But nothing that would enable me to make a living out of photography. That was the goal. And I failed — I failed hard.
Since then, I’ve realized there’s a lot of things I could’ve done better. Maybe I could’ve had a better plan, had a more specific endgame, or maybe I could’ve just worked harder. There’s a myriad of things I wish I knew then — or did then. But it’s all in the past, and it’s not the point.
When I came home, I felt defeated. Without money. Without a job. Without any security. And without confidence and pride in myself.
And that’s the story of how my camera ended up in the darkest corners of my closet. I didn’t really want to do anything with it. In fact, I thought it was best to close the curtains on it.
Unfortunately, it’s a story that would happen to many and too often — if it really wasn’t their passion.
That’s the catch.
The truth is that if you are truly passionate about something, you’ll always come back to it. No matter what.
Because at some point, you’ll realize that passion isn’t dependent on success, it relies on the yearning and happiness of the heart.
In other words, you enjoy doing it. You enjoy the process and it makes you happy, even if it’s difficult to get to where you want to be with your passion.
That’s what happened to me. I felt this void in my heart for the past six months, but I didn’t realize it was because I was rejecting what gave joy in my life— snapping photos, taking videos, documenting my experiences, creating beautiful images, and putting it out there for the world to see.
But I was overly fixated by my failure — by the results of my passion — that I forgot how much I enjoyed the process of doing it.
Time and time again, people ask the same thing: when is it time to give up on pursuing your passion?
The answer? You don’t. Or more accurately — you can’t.
The thing is, why does “pursuing a passion” exist in the first place?
If there’s anything you should have realized by now, it’s that pursuing your passion if a false narrative. You are doing your passion already.
If you want to be a filmmaker, you are already filmmaking. If you want to be a writer, you are already writing. If you want to be a webtoon artist, you are already drawing.
There is nothing to pursue. You do your passion regardless of whether or not anything will result in doing it.
That’s the key that holds all of this together.
If you cannot surrender the reliance on your passion to achieve your dreams, then it’s time to give up on it. Because that will make it as clear as day that it’s not your passion. It should be exciting. It should be fun. And more importantly, it should be free, not burdened with expectations other than it makes you happy.
That being said, I will keep going. Not because I have to. But because I miss doing it. I miss having moments when I get “the shot.” And I miss the enjoyable moments when I lost track of time trying to produce the best images I could possibly muster.
And this time, will I have anything to show for it?
I’m not sure. But to me that doesn’t matter. What matters the most to me is that it makes me happy.