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Why Terri Trespicio’s TEDx Talk Changed My Outlook On Life

You heard the phrase your whole life, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I always thought that sounded nice and somewhat comforting. The only problem was that I had no idea what I loved, or what I wanted to do at all. The only thing I was sure of was that I did not want to wake up every day and go to a job that made me feel absolutely miserable. Going into college freshman year, I decided to declare myself undecided and hope that one day I’d figure out what my niche was. Months went by and I stood right where I was at the beginning of the fall semester, clueless.

At 19 years old, I already feel as though I completely failed myself and my family. What kind of person does that make me if I have nothing that excites me or makes me feel passionate? I already felt as though the alarm clock set for graduation day was about to go off and I still had no ideas and no plan. The question of whether I even had a purpose began to ring nonstop in my mind. And thus, the sea of overwhelming anxiety poured over me for months that felt like years on end. Consistently, I felt this agonizing pressure from unknown forces around me, telling me I was a disappointment. I envied my nursing and engineer friends, who seemed to be thinking fifty steps ahead. For some strange reason, I always thought that one day my passion or plan for a dream job would just fall in my lap and I would run with it. Looking back now, I realized if I had kept sitting around hoping for passion to strike, I would have been waiting a long time.

blonde woman with ponytail with her head in her hands leaning over a laptop
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The question alone, “What are you passionate about?”, was enough to send me running in the opposite direction. I just wanted to hear someone tell me that it would be okay if I could not find my one true passion and pursue it. One night, I was browsing through TEDx Talks out of boredom and the title, “Stop searching for your passion”, immediately caught my eye. For obvious reasons, I clicked on it. Terri Trespicio, the speaker, gave a 10-minute speech on society’s huge misconception of life that left me feeling as though I finally wasn’t alone.

Trespicio discussed the misconception we had our whole lives that our sole purpose is to find our one singular passion and pursue it our whole lives to the exclusion of all else. Trespicio talked about how growing up she was a mess, similar to how I felt. She turned down a countless number of job offers in fear that it would be a mistake and take her life down a path she did not want it to go. But her mother advised her that passion is not a plan. It’s a feeling, and feelings change. She reminds us that we do not create our lives first and then live them. We create a life by living it and not agonizing over it. Her talk made me realize that everyone who cannot figure out their passion immediately thinks that something is wrong with them and that I was never alone in this feeling.

There seems to be this universal fear that when someone asks us at a party, on a date, or at an interview, what our passion is, we will not give this intriguingly compelling answer and in turn, this makes us boring or not ambitious. Our passion does not need to be our job, hobby, or a sport. It can be the full energy we give to whatever is right in front of us at the time. We spend so much time searching for great passion, or love, and we miss out on what is right in front of us. It’s so important to remember that it’s okay not to know where you’re going to be in a year, a month, or a week. To quote Terri Trespicio, “The most fulfilling relationships and careers are the ones that still have the power to surprise you”.

woman wearing a white dress and jewelry
Photo by nappy from Pexels

We do not need to have this amazing or compelling life plan for success. Her talk made me realize that the people who are happiest with themselves spend their time and attention solving their favorite kinds of problems. I still do not know what I want to do, but working towards the idea of helping others and looking for problems that need to be solved is a good place to start. I want to be generous, kind, and helpful. I want to be a good friend, sister, and daughter. It took a long time for me to get to this point of view, but the pressure of defining myself through a passion or career field doesn’t torment me the way it used to. Once you decide to accept the unknown and all of the curve balls that come with life, it will be a whole lot easier to live your life in the present and enjoy each step of the way. 

Dana Veliky

West Chester '22

Dana is a current junior at West Chester University. She is working towards earning her bachelor’s degree in media and culture with a concentration in strategic communication. To pair up with her studies in culture, she is pursuing a minor in Spanish as well. Dana is also a member of national honor fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi, at West Chester. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside, working out, and finding a new documentary watch.
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