Zia Hassan

Burn Freely

+++ title = “02” date = 2018 +++

I had dinner with a friend tonight. Someone I respect that I once reached out to interview for a podcast, and then reconnected with randomly in my new job.

We talked about a lot of things. But mostly we talked about our careers, and why we choose to work in education. Eventually, we moved into reasons why people choose the work that they do in general.

I talked about my regrets, my struggles, my pride, and my failures as a teacher. I talked about what I need in my job to be happy, to be productive.

I mentioned how I’ve started thinking lately that “follow your passion” is bad advice. That we should do the things we’re good at, and take pride in our competencies, rather than chasing after flames that may or may not work out.

She stopped me and said:

“Maybe it’s not bad advice. Maybe it’s incomplete advice. Maybe it’s not about following. Maybe it’s about gathering. Being passionate is like being on fire. You just need to find an environment where you can burn freely.”

But what does it mean to burn freely? I don’t know, but perhaps it’s:

  • being an environment where you can be yourself without much judgment;
  • surrounding yourself with like-minded people;
  • wearing your beliefs and passions on your sleeve and being open to change but firm in your confidence;
  • allowing others to burn freely too and stoking their flames as much as possible.

A stronger fire spreads more quickly, after all.