Two months before my sixteenth birthday, writing chose me. I had always enjoyed writing, and I knew that my writing skills were above average, but I never thought much of it. Many of my classmates were good writers as well. I never felt like I stood out from the pack in terms of writing. However, I now believe that I had just not found my voice as a writer. That is, until it found me and I discovered my passion.
Everyone has a passion in life. It is usually one activity or action that one does that fulfills, inspires and keeps oneself going. For everyone, it is something different. It could be the arts, science, public speaking or sports – but do not confuse your passion with your career or your hobbies. Some people are lucky enough to pursue their passion professionally, but for others, their passion is perhaps what they do to relax or de-stress after a long day’s work. Your passion is also not just a hobby. One can have multiple hobbies, but I believe you can only have one true passion.
The dictionary definition of passion is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” I have had many hobbies, including dancing, singing, travelling and photography, for which I have felt that strong fondness and enthusiasm. They each satisfy a different creative need of mine. However, when I began to write, for publications and for my private eyes, I experienced a total fulfillment I had never known could exist before. Writing, as opposed to my hobbies, became a necessity. It is how I comprehend the world around me, as well as my inner self. My love for writing is one that can bring tears to my eyes. This love is very evident, especially when I speak about writing. My speech quickens with excitement, sometimes I can feel my heart racing, and I have been told that my eyes seem to light up. This is how I have come to classify passion.
Being a teenager can be a particularly complicated time for many reasons. As university approaches, teens begin to think about – and stress over – what they want to study and the careers they would like to pursue. Even though I was able to figure this out for myself before my first year of university began, I know of many people who are starting university, or others who are more than half way through their four years at university, who still have yet to choose a definite major or field of work. There are a few ways that you can start the process of discovering your passion, and, likewise, your major or career path.
Take different classes and see what sparks your interest. If you already have an interest, pursue it further.
2. Listen to those around you
Sometimes you may not be able to gauge your strengths and weaknesses accurately, but the people around you can. Teachers are primarily helpful in this step. Talk to your teachers and see what they think you will have the greatest success in. (Disclaimer: Do not throw your instincts out the window. You should still listen to your gut, but give others’ ideas a chance as well.)
Whatever you think your passion may be, find opportunities to gain more experience and improve your skills.
4. Intern or Volunteer
One particular career path may seem appealing, but you will not know whether it is the right one with certainty until you have real work experience. A good way to see the job you would like to pursue up close and personal is by interning, volunteering, or working in an office or institution that specialises in that field.
5. Make your decision
Based on the experiences you have collected during steps 1 to 4, decide whether this is the path for you. Is this your passion? Is this work tiring or tedious after a few weeks or months? Is it something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life? If you decide that you have yet to find your real passion, start over and try again in a different field.
The most important thing to remember is that your passion does not have to be what you do professionally for the rest of your life. Sometimes, it is unrealistic or impractical to professionally pursue your passion, but that is a call that one has to make for oneself. You can always be an accountant who spends all of her free time drawing, or a teacher who writes mystery novels on the side.
Also, do not force it. Let your passion find you. Some people do not find their passion until their 40s or 50s, or even later.
Lastly, Islam is what helped me discover that writing is my passion, and also the profession that I wanted to pursue. Four days after I began wearing hijab, my aunt sent me a link to an Islamic blog. She told me that I should start my own blog, but I thought she meant I should start a column on that specific site. At 11:30 pm, I sat on my bed and collected my thoughts and emotions of those past few days since I had begun wearing hijab into one written piece – and without revising it, I sent it off for submission. I never thought it would actually be published on the site because all of its articles looked professionally written, so I soon forgot about it. However, two weeks later, I got an email from an editor from the website saying they wanted to publish my piece.
When it was finally published on the website a few months later, it received an overwhelming, unexpected response. That one spontaneous instance led to many more writing opportunities, and I found the voice that I never had before as a writer. Many people have repeated to me the hadith that narrates that Allah (SWT) says: “Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you” (Hadith Qudsi) Perhaps to reward me for beginning to wear the hijab or to make the transition easier, Allah (SWT) allowed me to discover my passion at an early age. If nothing else seems to work, ask Allah (SWT) for help in finding what you were truly meant to do on this earth. Like me, you just might get an answer.
Gabrielle Deonath is a young writer who lives in the United States. She is the author of “The Hijab Diaries” series for virtualmosque.com and a writer for browngirlmagazine.com. To read more, visit hijabdiaries.com.