So once school starts in August, I’ll be a junior in high school–junior year, the renowned year of tears, stress, and standardized testing–and while academics is obviously a very important part of junior year, adults and college advisers are also stressing the importance of “finding your passion”. And the main reason that finding your passion is so important is so that colleges know you have interests beyond the scope of school and grades and testing and whatnot.

The reason why I’m not okay with this line of thinking is because college applications shouldn’t be the biggest factor behind your search for passion. Even though it’s great that students can expand their horizons and experiment with new opportunities, it shouldn’t be forced onto them. After all, how many people truly find something, whether it’s art or sports or music or research, that they are passionate about for the rest of their lives? Okay fine, I know a few people…but nonetheless, a passion that can carry through the college process is pretty hard to find. If you’re one of those people who find a passion early on and continue to enjoy it later on in life, lucky you. Many people lose their passion once they encounter a new turn in the road of life–starting a family, for example–and many don’t find their passion at all.

I’m passionate about a few things–writing, drawing, volunteering, human rights, tennis–but how much time can I dedicate to these passions while I’m also in school, forced to study for tests or do homework?

Students should instead focus on doing things that make them happy. There’s a general conception that if you’re passionate about something, then you’ll probably also be successful at it. However, this thinking can cause many people to drop their passion just because they aren’t “succeeding” in it. Personally, I think that’s a very wrong mindset especially for high school students. High school is a time for people to explore who they are because it’ll get harder later on in life to make such discoveries. There’s no need to find a single “passion”–as long as high schoolers are doing whatever they love, colleges will see it and that’s pretty much the same thing.

So when people tell you to “go find your passion”, it doesn’t mean you have to scout far and wide for an activity that you’ll have immense talent or success in. It just means to find things that you might enjoy, whether that’s joining the school marching band, commissioning artworks, or selling Girl Scouts cookies–it doesn’t matter. Although selling Girl Scouts cookies is probably not something you’d enjoy doing 20 years into the future, there’s always something else, something new waiting for you. And it’s up to you to go find it.

Published by Cindy Song