Transitioning post-college

By Abby Blachman

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

Teju Ravilochan, the founder of the Unreasonable Institute, displayed this quote on a screen in front of the entire GES staff and delegates as he addressed them in the last short talk of the summit.

“But what if I have no idea who I am?” Teju responded.

Teju explained to the audience that he is tired of the common advice given to young people telling them to follow their passions, describing that this type of rhetoric is vague and hard to follow. Instead, Teju offered up a guide to finding passions through tangible steps.

Teju's guide to transitioning from being a passionate, engaged person to finding your own passion:

1. Curiosity:

The best way to explore your curiosity is through experimentationIt can be difficult to be told to experiment when there are so many possible routes for experimentation. You should start at a place where your curiosities intersect with your strengths. 

A study done at the University of Nebraska found that after taking a seminar on speed reading, students who were already fast readers were able to maximize their reading speed far more than students who entered the study as slow or moderate readers. After talking with these students, conductors of the study found that the speed readers were much more passionate about reading. If you are good at something, you will likely be able to become much better at it quickly if you invest time and energy.

2. Intimacy:

Experimentation will allow you to become familiar with the ins and outs of a particular area of interest, but the next step toward passion is getting over the perceived cost of trying. 

A man named Robert talked with his therapist, a woman named Dr. Miller, about experiencing rejection after rejection in asking women on dates. Dr. Miller then challenged Robert to get rejected by 75 women in a row. Robert found that it was incredibly difficult to get rejected by 75 women in a row, and found new self confidence. Dr. Miller changed Robert’s experience because she reframed the issue in terms of trying as many times as possible, and emphasized that failure can be an ideal outcome.

“If we can get over that fear of failure, we can fall in love, with people or with our work,” Teju said.

However, the realities of the financial world can present real barriers to being able to try anything. In this case, there are two possible approaches that might help. A first approach is to become immersed in whatever job you have, and try to orient this job as much as possible toward your interests. Strive for promotions and make connections so that you have more power to leverage your work to align with your goals. Another approach is to go the two-job route in order to fit in time for work that earns a living and hones in your skills.

3. Passion:

In order to close the gap between intimacy and passion, produce an immense volume of work. Ira Glass explains that many passionate people who have good taste can recognize that their own quality of work is not up to par. In order to bridge the gap between this good taste and the level of work being produced, you must mass-produce content.

Any creative process will travel a curved path on a graph of positivity versus time invested. At a certain point, the crushing reality of execution will set in. At the bottom of the curve, you will experience some kind of insight that will allow you to turn the corner and get to a position of confidence. In fact, you will likely experience the trajectory of this curve multiple times along your journey.

You might want to give up at the point that is known as the wall of fear. This is where the importance of community sets in. When you treat those around you as if each person has the potential for unlimited success, it is scientifically proven that everyone involved is much more likely to reach his or her goals.

“Passion is a consequence of intimacy, and this does not come unless you find curiosity,” Teju said.

GES staff members and delegates met Teju’s words with lengthy applause. In a room filled with so many people hoping to find success and streamline their enthusiasm in a productive way, the audience walked away feeling inspired.

“I think often when people present they make things seem very daunting, but he put it into a realistic manner by saying that you will have ups and downs. Success requires a lot of passion, which I think almost everyone in that room had, so by highlighting that that is all you need, it brings up hopefulness. He was an amazing speaker, and very easy to relate to,”