Passion – Friend or Foe

I’ve recently been told by two close friends that they believe me to be passionate about my role as a teacher. In both instances the word passionate caught me off guard. Friends who know me have come to understand the frustration I have felt for many years as a teacher. They have witnessed my heart ache, sleepless nights, tears, anxiety, and fits of anger over a job that at times consumes me. Passionate people are often quick to feel anger (check), have difficulty letting go of problems (check), and always wear emotions on their sleeve (check). I am a slave to all of these traits. I am a lot like my dad in that way. Defined this way, being passionate doesn’t sound that endearing.

This morning I decided to do a little research on the word passion. Here is what I discerned. “Passion (from the Latin verb patī meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling, enthusiasm, or desire for anything”.
Passionate people are focused, expressive, independent thinkers, learners, and risk takers. But perhaps the best description I found was this excerpt written by Sima Ballinger in her post about passionate people. She writes “Passion creates excellence when mediocrity will do. Passion makes you laugh, when you feel like crying. Passion makes you open your mouth and proclaim something, when a whisper will do. Passion allows you to sit still, when you feel like walking away. Passion will cause you to break a record, when finishing the race will do. Passion will make you stay up all night long, when you want to sleep. Passion will cause you to love, when you would rather hate.”

Knowing that people regard me this way revealed an important lesson. I was forced to reflect differently about the way I see myself, and the way others perceive me. If by passionate my friends see me as speaking out about what’s wrong in education (when a whisper will do), then yes I am guilty. If I lose many nights of sleep worrying about my job, my students and my school,( when I’d rather be sleeping), then yes I am guilty. If I strive for excellence by honing my craft to make learning fresh each year (when tried and true methods will do), then yes I am guilty. If my friends want to define me as passionate, I’ll take it. For when you are surrounded by something you truly love and care about, you can’t hide it, your passion comes through.

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