Image from Negative Space.

Image from Negative Space.

Have you ever been really, really passionate about something only to find out that people are making fun of you for caring so much? If yes, don’t worry–everyone’s been through it. And no, the title of this article isn’t meant to be ironic.

At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I was extremely enthusiastic about college applications. (I think this is pretty clear due to the fact that I’m writing for The Prospect.) I started the year after a summer program at Brown and a series of college tours in the States. The experience left me so enthralled and excited about the idea of studying abroad in a place that would be considered a “best fit” for me in terms of my personality, goals, and strengths as a learner. I was so excited about the possibility of finding that one school in that one city that would be the best place for me to study English literature and photography while immersing myself in my new environment. So, as anyone would, I worked really hard and kept my enthusiasm up throughout most of junior year.

After a while, I found out that people were making fun of me for being so excited about where I wanted to go to college. “Emma’s so obsessed with college.” “Why does she care so much about going to that one school?” The funny thing about this is I never even told anyone apart from my close friends about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. Maybe other people got an idea of how excited I was about going to college because of how apparent my enthusiasm and work ethic were with regards to the goals I wanted to reach. I don’t know, and I really don’t need to. I knew then and I know now that whatever people think about me is a reflection of any insecurities or fears that they might have, and not of any problems that my enthusiasm or motivation to work hard could potentially cause.

If you find yourself to be in a similar situation, remember that the only way to get past it is literally to keep on doing whatever it is that you love doing. Unless you’re hurting people, nobody has the right to tell you that you’re overly passionate about something. It might sting a bit at first knowing that people who you aren’t even close to are going out of their way to make unsupportive comments about things that don’t concern them. If you’re ever offended by something that another person says about you, allow yourself to feel bad for one minute but never get upset over the same reason again. Channel the energy you would have used on being angry into working even harder and being even more enthusiastic about whatever it is you love.

And honestly, what’s so wrong with being passionate about something? So many people make it seem like being apathetic towards everything is the way to go these days, but unless you’re April Ludgate, you’re just going to come off as lazy and unmotivated. Cultivating passion for what you love is probably the most important step you’ll have to take before you start working hard and building on your strengths. Taking your pick from the vast array of possibilities that are open to you is not an easy thing to do. It can be difficult for some people to find what they’re passionate about, but that doesn’t mean they have to be so negative towards others who have already found their niche.

Find whatever it is you’re passionate about and stick to it until the end. And don’t let anything or anyone distract you from it. (Trust me–this is something I wish I had learned as early as at the beginning of my freshman year of high school.) Decide to become so engulfed in your work and success that you don’t even have a few extra seconds to stop and think about any negative comments that other people might be making about you or your work. The next time you feel discouraged, the best (and only) thing to do is to just continue writing that song, practicing that yoga pose, obsessing over your extracurriculars, or whatever it is you do that lights up your entire being. What you do might affect others, but what they do doesn’t have to affect you.

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