On the loss of passion…

Something strange has been happening to me over the last 1,5 year or so. I’ve lost interest and passion for things that I had been doing for a long time.

I made a huge decision in June this year. I quit playing my clarinet in an orchestra. For more than a year I barely had fun playing in the group setting and I just didn’t see any point in continuing this way. It wasn’t fair for my fellow musicians. I kept making up excuses to not attend so that was a huge red flag. I figured it was better to quit than to keep doing something I don’t enjoy. What was more strange is that I barely felt anything making this decision. A bit of relief, a bit of guilt, but that was it. Mind you, I’ve played in orchestras since I was 10 years old, so I had been doing it for 23 years. Quitting something you’ve been doing for 23 years should be something big, or shouldn’t it? 

This wasn’t the only activity I stopped enjoying, though. I’ve felt the same way about going to concerts too. That was something I did since 2006, but when I visited Roadburn Festival in 2018 I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I went to one more concert that year, but this year I only went to one concert total. I just can’t get “into it” anymore and the crowds annoyed me. Strange. 

Then, there’s also work related stuff. I barely write blog posts anymore, I just can’t muster the will to do it. I don’t care, somehow. Writing this is also tough. Then there’s visiting conferences. I’ve been doing it, but honestly, I don’t enjoy it so much anymore. I like giving a talk or a workshop, but the conference experience is draining for me. I remember going to conferences and enjoying reaching out to people and making new connections. Now, I often feel drained after a couple of hours of conversation. The talks themselves seem to be about the same thing over and over again, too. 

It’s not all misery here. I’ve discovered powerlifting, something that I pour a lot of my free time in. I progressed a lot and it makes me feel good on a mental and physical level.

Writing all these things out, it seems like I’m a whining asshole and maybe a depressed one at that. But I don’t feel depressed at all. I just feel weirded out that I don’t enjoy the things I used to and that I don’t enjoy things many other people seem to enjoy immensely. Is it age? Is it that I need more variety or I’ll get bored? How can I lose passion for music, something I never imagined possible? Should I accept this? Fight it? What can I do? So many questions! 

As is often with these things, I wonder if I’m the crazy one. I cannot possibly be the first person to experience this. In the odd chance that you’re reading this and you have advise to offer, please do so. Because I’m hella confused, I can tell you that. 

1 thought on “On the loss of passion…

  1. OK, I’ve had something similar over the past few years (though not perhaps as comprehensively as you seem to have). In some cases, I found it was something lurking just under the surface, and in a few cases I’ve thought “It wouldn’t take much to get me to stop doing this” without actually stopping doing it.

    What I’ve found is that something new in that particular field has reawakened my enthusiasm for it. For instance: I’ve been reading science fiction since I was 14. It was beginning to seem to me that “traditional” science fiction stories – tales of future technologies and exploration that invoke a “sense of wonder” – were dying out and being replaced by fantasy, horror and various crossover genres that didn’t appeal to me. A number of my friends in the community had given up on science fiction altogether. But then, over the past eighteen months, I’ve read a number of novels that have made me say “This is strange and exciting; it’s what I started reading science fiction for!”. And these books have refreshed my interest in the genre.

    I’ve also seen it in the testing community. When I started my current role, three years ago, I discovered the UK test community, something I’d not encountered before even though I’ve been doing software testing or something very much like it for nearly 25 years. In 2018, I went to the UK testing conference TestBash for the first time; many of my colleagues had been to all the TestBashes up to that date. But this year, we didn’t go; we were planning an in-house raining initiative, and although that didn’t happen, it sucked up most of the organisational momentum that would have gone into our attending TestBash. But my colleagues were cool with that; most of them said “Well, last year’s wasn’t so great, it was all a bit samey, we didn’t mind missing it, perhaps we can do something different next year.”

    That sounds to me like a less extreme version of your reaction. I think it seems to you that you’ve seen everything that your music or the conferences you go to have to offer and you’re ready to move on. And this may be so. Or you might just come across something new that refreshes your interest – either something genuinely new (or new to you) that reinvigorates you, or it might be that you meet someone who has a fresh perspective on something you thought you knew inside out, and that perspective enthuses you, or you find that you can use your experience to help them grow as they discover for the first time something that you know well (or thought you did).

    In short: yes, this sort of thing happens. It’s called Life. And the sort of realisation that you’ve come to is part of the natural process of growth and renewal, and you can either move on or you can find something new in something you thought you were tired with. Either way, you’ve challenged your own perspectives, and that’s a good thing. That is normal, and natural. Don’t beat yourself up about it; embrace it and see where it takes you. Whatever happens, there’s scope for new discoveries out there, and all best wishes to you in the journey to finding them!

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