As a kid, my parents felt it was important for their children to develop a talent.
I was the youngest of four, with three older brothers – and I had a competitive streak in me. I didn’t like being singled out, and as the only girl felt the need to be competitive in a boy’s world.
This concept has stayed with me throughout my life, and for the most part, in my professional development, I have worked in primarily a “man’s” world. I’ve learned to become comfortable with that.
I conduct business with men very well and have learned to speak their language, hold my own in business conversations, and if I don’t know the answer – to just admit it, and promise to get the answer as soon as possible.
Keep your promises – Until you can’t…
My brothers and I all took piano lessons growing up. One-by-one, we’d sit at that piano for at least thirty minutes a day, practicing our scales and the assigned selections from our piano teacher. We were assigned the music according to our age and ability. Of course, since I was the youngest, I had the simplest selections. I had small hands and didn’t have the physical ability to reach an entire octave between my thumb and pinky. It was physically impossible. The thirty minutes of required practice time was excruciating for me. After a few years of feeling forced to practice, I no longer wanted to take piano.
Meanwhile, I had also been taking dance and gymnastics, both of which I absolutely loved. Practicing dance at home never felt like a chore. In fact, after dance class, I’d come home and gather up my neighborhood friends and teach them what I had learned in class. I felt like myself when I was dancing.
But, I promised my parents I’d continue to practice the piano as well, even though it was a chore for me.
Know when to cut your losses
Keeping promises are sometimes impossible – especially when that promise contradicts with your skills and what you’re passionate about, both personally and professionally.
After several years of piano lessons and begging my mom to allow me to quit, she finally relented and asked me, “If you could only do one extra-curricular activity, what would you chose?”
I had no doubt in my mind, I wanted to just dance.
I was never going to be a great pianist like my brothers. I didn’t have the ‘ear’, or the passion, or the patience to sit and practice at something I just plain didn’t want to do. All I wanted to do was dance.
You might feel that way too, about your job trajectory, projects you’re forced to work on, or the path your life has been on.
I kept my promise to my mom and continued with piano, until it became increasingly evident that my passion, skill and focus were on my dancing.
Follow your passion
We’ve all heard that advice throughout our lives, but following your passion isn’t always easy. It may not be practical, or reasonable. For example, if your passion is to be an artist – but you have a mortgage, a family to support and other obligations, it isn’t a good idea to just quit and start creating your art.
However, finding time for self-care in the form of art can be extremely beneficial to you, and your family. You can create something artistic with your family, for instance. Or put your artistic flare in a presentation for work, or develop a way to use your love of art within your scope of work.
The Q Crew
I loved dance, but missed the window of opportunity to take it to a professional level. If I were many, many, years younger, I’d be one of those young women travelling to try out for the dance competition show, “So You Think You Can Dance”.
Flashback to the early 90s and I’m a radio personality, at this point my focus was on station image, promotions, events and marketing.
I captured my love of dance and partnered it with the station and developed a group of dancers to represent the station at events, fairs, parades, and perform at schools, with a message to kids to “get involved in something you love to do – and stay away from drugs”. We partnered with a school district during “Red Ribbon Week”, which was one week during the school year to educate kids on the dangers of drug abuse.
“The Q Crew” quickly became a promotional arm for the radio station, and I was having the time of my life.
Turn your passion into a vision
Whatever your “passion” is, you have the ability to turn it into a vision for your life. Whether you want to write, act, dance, paint, take care of the less fortunate, care for animals, or cook – you can transform that passion, with a little bit of inspiration and effort, into a new vision and purpose.
You might be in a position in your life where you feel as though you missed your window of opportunity to “follow your passion”, but I’m an advocate of the saying, “it’s never too late”.
If your passion is waiting in the wings, it’s not the end of the world, “…It’s Only Victorville”…. nothing is out of reach, when you put your vision and passion to work for you.
Kelly Orchard, M.A., LMFT
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