What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up? Part 1: Fetishizing and Monetizing Your Interests
Updated: Mar 5, 2022
I feel like I haven't been writing as much ever since I found out that this is my ideal medium for my what I want to do with my life. I had to push myself to write the last couple full length segments in my journal and push through the resistance. I started asking myself why this resistance is there in the first place? I think when I put writing into this context of this ~~**grand life purpose**~~ or ~~**hero's journey**~~ part of me felt overwhelmed by it. I know with the whole hero's journey metaphor that there is a part where the hero gets a call to action but they don't want to take it even if it is exciting and fulfilling because they want to be in their cushy, comfortable lives. I think I resonate with this a little bit but I think a more important concept to consider is this thing called "detachment from outcome."
Both the concepts of the hero's journey and detachment from outcome are important things to consider when trying to find your life purpose. The hero's journey is the emotional and mythological framework. The hero is some naïve person living in the ordinary world in a simple life and then something unusual presents itself to them. Then, the journey presents itself to them and they get a call to adventure. While it is exciting and interesting, it's also scary for the person because they don't want to leave the comfort of their mundane life. Then the call presents again usually because something dramatic happens. The hero gets cornered and with much resistance the hero gets on the journey to find the holy grail (or in this case achieve some type of long term goal). The hero faces a variety of obstacles and has to go into uncharted territory. Along the road they find a mentor that helps them but eventually they have to figure things out on their own. Eventually, the hero goes through the challenges and achieves their goal. But by now the challenges and the journey turned them into a different person and the meaning of their original goal changes. Then they bring back their holy grail and achievements back to their community and then becomes a mentor to help another hero in the future.
Detachment from outcome is when you do have a calling in life but you don't take it too seriously because in the end nothing means anything and it all leads to the same place which is death. Your purpose isn't about where you end up rather it is about the journey, about how you grow, about how you enjoy yourself on the way there. Sometimes the problem with life purpose is that we take it too seriously and start acting in cringy ways or we treat people badly because we have a stick up our ass. When you're detached from outcome however, you flow through life rather than imposing yourself on it. There is little to no resistance involved. The only thing that is guaranteed is doing your work and enjoying your work. The rest are just the icing on the cake. You shouldn't expect perks or rely on it. And detachment helps because when you are tense, anxious, neurotic, and competitive, you aren't producing your best work than if you were relaxed and enjoying the process.
I think the concept that resonates with a person more is completely relative. For me personally, I found that detaching from the outcome is more important than having a grand compelling vision (even though I have one of those to a certain extent). Because I think the problem with only thinking about the hero's journey and following your bliss instead of balancing it out with detachment from outcome is that you can fall into the trap of fetishizing your interests rather than cultivating your passion. I find that a lot of creative people and type A, super ambitious people tend to fall into this trap more.
First off with creative people, it's very easy for them to get into the flow of whatever creative outlet that they choose. Even though I didn't go into studying art in college, I know people who did and I found that they walk in with this sense of passion but then school sucks it out of them because then there is this pressure of deadlines and this sense of obligation. When there is that sense of obligation, you become attached to the outcome and it isn't something you intrinsically want to do rather it is something you have to do. I have some experience with this when I took studio art in high school. I enjoy drawing but when I was being graded on it, it took me out of that flow state. And my teacher was basically talking to us about when you have clients you have to be more perfectionistic in your class and produce exactly what they said (the fact that she was a harsh and rigid grader didn't help my sense of creativity if I'm going to be honest). And that's when I realized that maybe a creative field might not be for me. I don't think I'm super comfortable with monetizing my creative outlets. And if I am to do something creative, I really need to have another job that will take care of my expenses. Because first of all, I'm not about that starving artist life. Second and more importantly, I feel that when you put so much pressure on your craft to where it's your main source of livelihood (or worse an unstable source), that your survival instincts interfere with your ability to be creative because you're more worried about having a roof over your head rather than focusing on doing your best work. That's when you get attached to outcome. While monetizing your hobbies and interest can be a nice plus, I don't think focusing on the monetization aspect is the healthiest way of going about it. I don't think that life purpose is all about career or your job and thinking about life purpose in that way can lead to unhealthy consequences. (I'm going to do a whole post talking about the type A, super ambitious people and capitalism in the next post since this is getting rather long).
Another problem that creatives sometimes run into is fetishizing their interests. I believe that there is a difference between having interests and having a passion. It's like comparing initial attraction to a stable long term relationship. At first with your interests you have this honeymoon phase where you are super enthusiastic and excited about what you're going to do. After that honeymoon phase is up, that's the real test of how long term this interest, whether it be for a creative venture or a partner, would last. I think with people who fetishize their interests or fetishize this idea of what a relationship is supposed to be like, that they want the honeymoon phase to last forever and have that constant high, that the romanticize the process instead of seeing it for what it is and appreciate it even when it gets mundane and boring. Because if you are really passionate about an interest, romantic or otherwise, you won't need that constant titillations and you're ok when things get a little slow because there is an intrinsic motivation there apart from chasing excitement. Because from what I know about long term relationships (granted this knowledge comes from friends and things I've read so doing) is that after a while of being with that person, it becomes kind of meh and routine but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Sure you need to look out for stagnation and signs of not trying anymore but there is something beautiful about being able to appreciate that stillness, being content, and just, well, being with your partner. I think it's the same with life purpose when it comes to detaching from outcome and being content and intrinsically motivated.
I think there is something that is more sustainable in finding a passion that you are interested in and that lights up the spark in you but you see that passion as a tool to sharpen and as a craft to slowly master rather than romanticizing the craft. It's the difference between a firework that is exciting, loud, and unpredictable and that goes off in like 3 seconds and a slow burning fire that actually keeps you warm through the winter. I also think that the difference between interests and passions is the consistency you are able to cultivate, again like the slow burning fire. I was interested in writing but I didn't realize how passionate I was about it until I spent like a year on my journal, writing these pseudo blogposts in my computer, and cultivating my interest into something consistent. And to be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting this. I started my journal out of fun and basically me shitposting my thoughts and I didn't think much of it. I believe that being detached from outcome and not taking this journal seriously was the reason why I was able to be consistent because I didn't feel like I had to force myself to do anything.
I was browsing a forum the other day and I stumbled across a comment that was talking about how writing itself isn't the purpose rather it is a tool for your actual purpose and your purpose is what you talk about in your writing. For instance, making birdhouses may be your passion and purpose in life. A hammer is one of the tools you use to make the birdhouses. But the hammer itself isn't the purpose. Fetishizing your medium or your craft is like fetishizing the hammer and spending an endless amount of time trying to construct and find the perfect hammer.
This is also a video that I find articulates my points above quite well: