This time three years ago, I was still getting my feet wet in Ireland. I was there to study abroad at the University of Limerick and was struggling to find my place. (Thank you, homesickness!) As I was only going to be there for four months, I knew I had to make the best of my time.
Just as there are at most universities, there were a number of clubs and societies for students to join. I was a bit surprised though at just how many there were at UL. The clubs and societies covered everything from ultimate frisbee and skydiving to computers and drama; from rugby and medicine to photography and parkour. There was even a tea appreciation group! You name it, they had it. As the study abroad students were only there for a short time, we were encouraged to join a couple groups-as it would help us better acclimate to the university, the people, and the culture. Plus, it was sure to be loads of craic! (That’s the Irish word for “fun” or “good times.”)
Early in the semester, I walked around the Clubs & Societies Fair with a couple of friends as we tried to pick out which groups we wanted to sign up for. We joined the International Society, one of the largest societies at the university, as it helped to integrate international students into campus life through social events, trips, and activities. I wanted to join another group though–something I would or could never join at my home university in America.
So I joined the Windsurfing Club.
I had never windsurfed before. I had never even surfed. I’d never done any water sport aside from one short summer on a town swim team. But I had promised myself I’d try new things during my semester abroad, and this was going to be one of them.
A little over a week later, I went on the first windsurfing trip. We drove two hours west to a hostel in Castlegregory and went windsurfing on a beach nearby. There were more than twenty of us in the group-from a few experienced windsurfers to a lot of beginners. We wet-suited-up and spent all day on the ocean, learning to windsurf. (Or in the ocean in my case, because I could not stand up on the board to save my life.) Every part of me was blue and wind burnt by the time we packed up our gear and went back to the hostel. I was exhausted and still cold after missing out on hot water for the shower, but I was having a good time.
That night, long after most everyone had gone to sleep, I stayed up talking with a few of the windsurfers. We talked about everything from wild storms to windsurfing to traveling. And there is one thing that has stuck with me ever since that night: the image of an enthusiastic, passionate person. He had been one of our instructors earlier in the day and had been windsurfing and doing other water sports since he was young. And as we sat there that night, every word that came out of his mouth was coated in passion. Wild, excited, heartfelt, and fiery. His energy and spirit were glowing with it. He cared about this sport, and its athletes, and it was everything to him. And in that moment, I couldn’t help but be excited about those things too.
“It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.” -T. S. Eliot
It is important, necessary even, to be passionate about something in your life-whatever it is. Whether you devote to your life to your passions or they’re just a small part of each day, you need that driving force in your life. It’s something to push you forward or for you to work toward, always. And even if you haven’t found something to be passionate about yet, you will. Do the things you are interested in and keep trying new things, and soon enough you will find something. Those passions may change or evolve over time, but they will ultimately be the reason for your successes and happiness.
To this day, the trip to Castlegregory is one of the most memorable I’ve ever had. Not only because I tried windsurfing for the first time, but because I also witnessed someone with an incredible passion for the first time. Of course I’ve met other passionate people since then, but nothing will beat the feeling of witnessing that for the first time.
I am passionate about writing. I am passionate about traveling and getting lost and learning new things. I am passionate about animals. About laughing and being a good human.
What are you passionate about?