Written by Shelly Teng ’15
Passion. I’ve heard this word all too much during my past two years at IMSA. Lately, and fittingly, I’ve heard it associated with a slew of negativity. The word plagues our campus, seemingly in a way that no longer holds holistic value. How is it that we have turned a word, so pure in its nature, into something that only elicits eyes rolls and scoffs?
Many of us came to this institution with steadfast drive, goals, and dare I say it, passion. These concepts were formless in their earliest conception, but they also held promise. And on the cusp of our induction to this academy, we were eager to mold them. As sophomores, we were unaffected by our surroundings, and passion still seemed innocent. But, just like so many things, the word grew and adapted to its environment.
What’s your passion? This question should not look foreign to any of you. It was probably some of the first words uttered as soon as we stepped foot onto the campus. In all of our naiveté, we looked up to our upperclassmen, admiring them for their tenacity and the clarity of their endeavors. Little did we know a bleaker reality was to come when we adapted to the “culture” of IMSA’s hunger for passion.
But, perhaps the root of this fault was that we were pressured to decide that we were passionate about some greater cause at the very moment we entered this school. We were expected to make a grand sacrifice to the society around us. We were coaxed into saying that in our growing adolescence, we knew exactly where we wanted to be and what we do twenty years from now.
We think of high school as a just another step towards the perfect white-collar job, 2.5 kids, and 401K retirement. We think that in order to reach this ultimate goal, we have to have a passion, whether it is genuine or not. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what is so cruelly altering the purity of the concept. We’re 18 – we shouldn’t have to have every detail of our future aspirations sketched out clearly. But because of the pressure that exists at IMSA, a lack of passion is equated with failure. So just like that, we pull wool over our eyes and convince ourselves that we have a passion just to avoid brutal judgment.
But the truth of the matter is that some of us just don’t have a passion. And should you be ashamed if you are one of those people? Absolutely not. But this attitude is simply not the attitude that IMSA fosters. So the alternative? Fabrication. Too easily, we can assign passion to one of the many activities that we frantically try to keep up with. We can say, “Oh yeah, that’s my passion.” Though at that point, I’d say we’re wrestling with an honesty problem.
So that, of course, begs the question: what is passion now? Well, it would be folly to argue our campus is devoid of it. Those who are safely anchored with a passion are commendable; but so are those who are still wandering aimlessly through their fleeting years at IMSA. High school should be a time of discovery, not perfection. But sadly, the demand for securing a passion has made it just the opposite.
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