My passions make me cry

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Bailee Merrill's passion for writing making her cry. Photo credit: Grace Wride

I’m obsessed with writing.

But it’s kind of my worst enemy.

English was always my favorite subject in school. I loved the way words combined to tell stories or share important information. I’d write dramatic short stories or blog posts so I could let my words form into something inspiring for others to read.

At the same time, my passion for writing causes me intense pain. I can’t say how many times it’s made me sob. I can’t relay the high levels of anxiety it causes me. It’s my number one stressor. It’s kept me up until 6 a.m. multiple times with tears, frustration and utter exhaustion. Sometimes, it triggers literal nausea. It pulls me away from fun times with friends. It calls out my imperfections like a condescending teacher. It’s ruthless and demanding and difficult.

So . . . you said . . . you like writing?

I love it. With my entire soul.

I have big aspirations to write for well-known magazines and to be one of the best. I love to research a topic, interview people about it and craft an article that combines all the story’s elements into a cohesive, artistic piece. It’s my passion, and it’s rewarding beyond words.

The root of the word “passion” is Latin. It was constructed from the stem pati. Online Etymology Dictionary, “The notion is ‘that which must be endured.’” This originally referred to the ultimate passion, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but the word’s origin explains why I feel the way I do about my passion as well.

For the longest time, I thought if something was my passion then it would come to me easily. I used to only write when a magnificent, earth-shattering idea would come to mind. And wow, my piece would be incredible. Then, I’d log out of my blog and let it collect virtual dust until another mind-blowing epiphany would come to mind four months later. Sporadic, inconsistent pieces with hardly any effort; the words would fly from my mind, through my fingers and onto the keyboard.

A masterpiece every time.

But then I talked to my friend Ty, an avid writer, about my writing habits.

“Ten percent of the time I feel inspired to write,” he said. “Most of the time, writing feels like a long relationship I’ve been in. It loses that magic and charm that the beginning of a relationship invokes. It starts to feel monotonous. But I know that, because of statistics, even though ninety percent of my work will fail or not reach excellence, if I keep writing there will be a ten percent that does succeed.”

In essence, I learned that just because you have a dream doesn’t mean it’s always dreamy.

Anything worthwhile is produced through tears, pain, fear, frustration and every other difficult emotion. A hike with no elevation gain doesn’t produce views worth looking at.

Merrill's notes lie on her floor.
Merrill’s notes lie on her floor. Photo credit: Grace Wride

There are students here just cruising through their semesters, living the fun side of college life, content as long as they pass their classes.

But there are others working two or three jobs, staying up until 1 a.m. to finish homework, then waking up at 7 a.m. to do it all again, dedicating their souls to their studies because they have a passion they’re trying to bring to life. They don’t just see the present moment — they see their successful, fulfilled future lives. It’s a constant vision behind their eyes.

So they work and cry and pray and cry some more as they suffer to achieve their goals.

As one who understands that experience all too well, I know how bad it hurts. I know how draining it is. But I also know, as I’m sure you do, the euphoria it brings to see that work evolve into something beautiful.

Siri Lindley, world’s best triathlete in 2001 and 2002, didn’t know how to swim when she decided to try triathlons.

In an interview on the Tony Robbins podcast, she said, “I didn’t really tell anyone how far I wanted to go or what I was dreaming of, as time went by… and I was a complete disaster in all three,” referring to swimming, running, and biking. “I just knew in my heart and in my gut that I… had to take this as far as I could possibly go. I told my mom that I wanted to be the best in the world.”

Her trainings were brutal. She said in her first race in Colorado she was “pummeled” by the other swimmers. She ran in short sprinting bursts then would walk. She said it’s possible she was in last place of all the racers. When she got in bed that night, her insecurities and failures overwhelmed her as she sobbed.

But she was more determined than ever to become the best.

And she did.

According to Keppler Speakers, “Siri dominated the International Triathlon Union World Rankings; she was the 2001 ITU World Champion, won 13 World Cup races including the World Cup Series in 2001 and 2002, when she was the number one ranked triathlete in the world. As a coach, she has mentored and trained numerous #1 ranked triathletes to achieving Olympic medals and World Championship crowns distances.”

When you put your best effort into a project and feel like you fail, when you give all your time to your studies and it still isn’t enough, when you curl into the corner of your bed as doubts and fears about the future taunt you — keep going. Show your doubts who’s in charge.

Photo credit: Clara Stegelmeier

Lindley said, “I believe if somebody wants something bad enough, and they’re willing to do all the work necessary to make that something happen . . . anything is possible. I believe that with all my heart because I’m living proof of that.”

Your effort towards your projects, straining to understand a subject, social time sacrificed to apply for internships — it’s all worth it. Your 6 a.m. tear-filled nights will bloom into the most incredible successes you’ve ever seen.