You’ve probably heard the advice that if you want success, find your passion and stick with it forever. Except this isn’t how it happens for most people. In her new book, Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life that Matters to You, author Terri Trespicio takes on this platitude and serves up fresh takes on passion and purpose, life and work.
In this excerpt from chapter six of Unfollow Your Passion, titled “It’s not a sin to get wickedly curious,” Terri invites us to get our wheels turning.
If you’re a woman, chances are good you’ve been schooled, scared, threatened, and cajoled into staying where you are, regardless of whether your parents let you go to sleepaway camp or spend a year abroad. Ask a man why he’s frustrated and he may say he’s not getting what or where he needs to fast enough. Ask a woman why she’s frustrated and she’ll tell you she feels…stuck.
Women talk all the time about how they’re stuck — in their work, their relationships, their lives. And they often blame themselves — for being lazy or indecisive or not motivated enough. Are women prone to getting stuck? Is it a design flaw? No. This phenomenon points to the friction between wanting to move and being afraid to. And gee, I wonder why! If we weren’t flat out beaten, beheaded, or burned at the stake for attempting to leave throughout all of human history, we were gaslit into madness, coddled, and kept close, told that to step out was to be unsafe, unwise, or unkind.
The son who holes up in his parents’ basement is a failure to launch; a woman who stays home to take care of her parents is a good daughter. Go ahead and think back to every scary story you were told, or flip through the horror section on Netflix right now, and you’ll see a familiar allegory: tale after tale of Bad Things That Happen to Women Who Go Out There — and, well, they were warned.
What are women who feel stuck told to do instead? Take a bath, get things done, try a new hairstyle, shop. But don’t rock the boat, test the limits, or question the rules. In short, don’t get too curious. The consequences for doing more than risking a bold lip color are dire, from getting hurt to getting murdered, from being distrusted to being dismissed.
The one way to avoid being stuck is to stay wickedly curious — about what could be, what might be, what you just might do, or where you might go next. This is not easy to do when the world is working hard to snuff out what it deems a dangerous flame. Curiosity gets the wheels turning, and wheels that turn are not stuck.
I urge you not only to get curious but also not to talk yourself out of being curious. Don’t clip those adventurous new stems down to the nub. The idea of forbidden fruit has been co-opted by tawdry affairs, dalliances, all of them sexual in nature. But remember Eve didn’t pick fruit from the Tree of Porn. It was the Tree of Knowledge. You, too, possess that same natural curiosity, intelligence, a deep desire to know.
Contrary to what you’ve been told, curiosity will not kill your cat or anyone else. That tingle, that itch, that rising wonder, is critical to your next move, your next decision. It’s a reminder that you’ve got a mind and body of your own, and that you can go from thinking a thing to doing it.
Look, you don’t have to be a rabble-rouser. Maybe you like living in the town you grew up in, happily followed your mother into politics or took over your dad’s business. You don’t have to burn the place down to start something new.
…Wouldn’t you like to know what you might do next? Aren’t you curious what it could feel like, be like, taste like? It’s time to find out for yourself.
Copyright © 2021 by Terri Trespicio. From Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life that Matters to You by Terri Trespicio. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
This is just a small slice of Unfollow Your Passion by Terri Trespicio. To read the rest, order the book from Amazon, Bookshop.org, or your favorite local bookseller. Then, head to unfollowyourpassion.com to record your purchase and get access to special bonuses, including a writing guide and a mini course by Terri.
For more inspiration, read the essay she wrote for Jumble & Flow, Why “get out of your comfort zone” is not helpful advice, and what to do instead.
Terri Trespicio is an award-winning writer, speaker, brand advisor, and author of Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life that Matters to You (Atria / Simon & Schuster, December 2021), whose whose TEDx talk, “Stop Searching for Your Passion,” has been viewed more than seven million times. Visit TerriTrespicio.com for more information, and order your copy at unfollowyourpassion.com.
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