By Jordan Hannan
While it is entirely preferable to find your passion without the intervention of a life-changing event, I was not so lucky. June 15th, 2020 left me bedridden with the worst pain I have ever endured, finding sleep nearly impossible during the nights but unavoidable during the day, horizontal and bored out of my mind for 23 hours every day for weeks on end. What left a 14-year-old girl with a dozen “get well soon” blankets and stacks of sweets that only her family could enjoy: a complete spinal fusion, gifting me with two metal rods, four wires, and twenty-two screws in place of one fully-functioning spine.
My experience was undoubtedly horrendous, but there were several positives: my impressively short four-day stay at Duke University Hospital, the life-altering discovery of Sour Patch Kid Watermelons, and eating what I thought were the most delicious meals this planet could offer. (According to my mother, the grayish hospital oatmeal and rice was not the delicacy I thought it to be.) Among these highlights, however, was finding what makes me happiest: spending time with others.
I’ve always been a social person, but I’d never realized just how much I needed to be surrounded by others until that was almost entirely taken away from me. Despite the difficulty I had even holding up my phone, FaceTiming my sister from my hospital bed was the first time I remember smiling after my 9-hour surgery. Later, the Fourth of July finally allowed me to see my four grandparents for the first time, and I’d never been happier, even though my overexcitement left me in an immense amount of pain. I knew that nothing in this world could provide the same sheer contentment of being with other people.
However, finding something you enjoy is not the same as finding your passion. I clearly love talking to others, but that alone is entirely too shallow to consider it the most valuable part of my life. The same goes for any hobby you might have--sports, music, cooking, or painting. You can, however, find depth by using your hobby to give back to others. While you may have several hobbies that you enjoy, your sole passion, the element of your life that you feel like you could never live without, must not only better your life, but also the lives of those around you.
For me, this takes place in many ways, but all have taught me to better appreciate my love for meeting new people and spending time with those I already know. At Cardinal Gibbons High School, I lead tours for prospective students and families. Similarly, I volunteer as a counselor for underclassmen retreats and as a greeter at my church. My parents have also turned their passions into service--my father combined his love for golf with my mother’s affection for our family, creating the Kaitlyn and Jordan Classic, a charity golf tournament made to give back to Duke Children’s, the hospital that saved the lives of both my sister and me. This deepened connection between the cause and the volunteer greatly increases the impact of their service, allowing the discovery of your passion to incite positive change.
The Triangle Cares website contains the contact information for all sorts of nonprofits that can be aligned with your passion, strengthening its influence on your life and the lives of others. However, if you are still unsure how you can share your talent to serve others, allow us to help you next week.