The Perils of Passion

“We have come to believe that only those who have passion find fulfillment and success professionally. It’s as if passion is life’s magic pixie dust.” 

In her essay in The New York Times Motherlode, “Our Push for ‘Passion’ and Why it Harms Our Kids,” Lisa writes about the insidious nature of our children’s and teenager’s passion-pursuit, especially in the buildup to college admissions. The follow is an excerpt:

We have come to believe that only those who have passion find fulfillment and success professionally. It’s as if passion is life’s magic pixie dust."

Our Push for ‘Passion’ and Why it Harms our Children

Standing on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game I chatted with the younger sibling of one of his teammates. “I don’t really have a passion like my brother yet,” he explained, glancing over at the field. “But my parents are helping me look for one.” I waited for the note of irony that never came.

At some point in the last 20 years the notion of passion, as applied to children and teenagers, took hold. By the time a child rounds the corner into high school and certainly before he sets up an account with the Common App, the conventional wisdom is that he needs to have a passion that is deep, easy to articulate, well documented and makes him stand out from the crowd.

This passion, which he will either stumble upon or be led to by the caring adults in his life, must be pursued at the highest level his time and talent, and his parent’s finances, will allow. It is understood that this will offer him fulfillment and afford him and his family bragging rights that a mere dabbler would never earn. This is madness.

You can read the entire essay here.

Illustration by Abigail Gray Swartz.

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