By Sierra Aceto

Remember when you were a kid, and you didn’t do the things you didn’t actually want to do? You wouldn’t eat what you didn’t like, you wouldn’t play with toys you didn’t like, you wouldn’t play games you didn’t like. Granted, you were stubborn as hell, but the point is that you didn’t compromise.

As we grow up and are parented out of many of our less favorable habits, we also absorb societal ideals that continue to tell us how we should act and what we should want.

From heterosexual monogamy to body size to six-figure careers, once we start being influenced by external ideals, it only becomes more difficult to drag ourselves out of the conveyor belt cycle.

Let me ask you, why are you doing whatever you’re doing right now? Why are you in college? Why are you in this job? Why do you have the friends you have? Why do you dress the way you do? Is it for you? Or is it for them, for everyone around you silently inserting their opinion upon your life choices?

Are your decisions to please you, or to please family, friends, bosses or the internet? To sum it up: how much of your life are you actually living for yourself?

The search for passion

Billy Joel said it best: “If you’re not doing what you love, you’re just wasting your time.”

Now, this is not to say that you should go and quit your job or drop out of school right this minute. But consider this: if you spend your days waiting for a “better” life, better job, better health, better friends, all that waiting time is immediately devalued and underappreciated when it could be filled with exploration, love and those oh-so-coveted unforgettable memories.

It seems like we hear about the importance of passion all the time, but implementing it into our daily lives is a whole different story.

Speaking of which, what even is passion? And how do you know if you’ve “found” it?

Dreaming of true passion arriving at our feet in a miraculous revelation one day is, frankly, just a dream. There’s no magic potion or future-telling quiz, and asking your friends what you should do with your life won’t give you a solid answer because, well, they’re not living your life.

It’s when we find ourselves at this impasse between continuing on with an unfulfilling, society-approved lifestyle and pursuing our mysterious true passions that we begin to overthink.

But according to Marie Forleo, we shouldn’t be thinking about it at all. We should be doing, experiencing and experimenting with the feelings that arise when we participate in or talk about something we really, deeply love.

It’s in the things that make your heart beat a little harder and your eyes shine a little brighter and your body flow with a little more energy that make life a little more worth living. For example, maybe you’re really good at math, and calculus equations practically solve themselves in your mind, and you figure you can get a decent job by majoring in math.

But when you get asked a question about the skiing you make time for on weekends, your mind sends off little fireworks, you can’t help but smile, and you can’t wait to get back on those slopes for the rest of the work week.

It makes you feel a little more alive. A little more free. A little more you.

That’s what you’re chasing. That feeling. If you look closely enough, you can find shadows of it in your recent purchases, your book and movie choices, your role models, the spaces you gravitate toward in your free time.

Commit to yourself, for yourself

When it comes down to it, all I can say is that we spend so much more time dreaming than we do putting those dreams in motion. Usually, you don’t have to have a lot of money saved, it doesn’t have to be the “right” time and you certainly shouldn’t be waiting on someone else’s opinion.

And, key point here, it doesn’t necessarily have to be your career. You can still get that math degree and go into a different job. But your love of skiing  — or whatever your metaphorical skiing is — should never fall to the bottom of the list.

Make time for that thing. Even if it doesn’t make you money or whatever other requirements your preconceptions want it to have, if it’s important to you, that’s all that matters.

Just go. Get out there — or in there, if your passion is an indoor activity. Stop waiting. Stop fearing. At the end of the day, you don’t want to have spent your whole life wishing for the perfect circumstances, and then realize there’s not a whole lot of time left to really enjoy that thing that you love.

Love it now, love it wholeheartedly and love it with reckless energy. Life can’t wait. Neither can you.