“Find something you love, make it your job, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I often think of that quote when I’m climbing up mountains, when my legs are begging me to stop, but I won’t let them. In the silence as I ride, I often let my mind wander and, especially with the backdrop of the sublime Pyrenean peaks, it’s easy to become reflective!
Last week, mid-way up Coll de la Boixeda, I was thinking about the quote and suddenly I was overcome by a feeling of utter joy and happiness! My mind had taken me back to December 2009, where I sat at Stellenbosch University for my graduation ceremony. While I waited to collect my engineering degree, the Dean of the Engineering Faculty delivered a fervid speech that highlighted one message: find your passion and pursue it! I’m sure most of the students and the Dean himself were referring to finding a passion in the engineering field but, on the day of my graduation, engineering was the last thing on my mind. I had found my passion while I was studying, but it wasn’t in the engineering lecture halls, it was outside, in nature, and on my bike.
I highly value my degree in chemical engineering and, believe it or not, the lessons I learnt while studying have been invaluable to my success as an athlete. I use the analytical mindset I learned everyday, and who is to say I won’t one day practice as an engineer. However, I knew I had found something I truly loved, and I couldn’t give up cycling for a career that would always be second in my heart.
After the graduation ceremony when my peers and lecturers asked about my future plans, I told them I was going to pursue my passion for cycling, and be a professional cyclist. Everyone was shocked at my decision and some were even horrified. I started to realise then that many people find it too scary to pursue their true passion, especially if it is off the beaten path like cycling.
I’ve said it before: with risk comes reward. For many, it would be too risky giving up engineering for a less stable, uncertain career in cycling but, for me, it wast worth it to pursue my true passion! Today I find myself living my dreams, travelling the world, pursuing my passion, learning new things about myself everyday, meeting amazing people and I couldn’t be happier. I meet many people who say they wish they could do what I’m doing, but the truth is they are wishing they had the strength to risk it all and live out their true passion!
I can say for certain that it isn’t easy to risk it all and do what you really love, especially if it is unconventional, but I believe that genuine happiness is achieved by living a passionate, purpose driven life! The real challenge in pursuing your passion, is finding the strength to chase it!