“What are you going to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question we’re all very familiar with, whether you’re 15 or 50. It’s also a question that can cause a lot of anxiety for those who feel concerned that they don’t actually know what their “passion” or “one true calling” in life is.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, has shared a theory that is perhaps comforting for those who never know how to answer this life-shaping question.
The best-selling author first introduced the proposition in 2015, which resurfaced recently on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Conversations podcast.
When she first posited the theory, Gilbert explained: “The world is divided into two types of people. There are the hummingbirds, and there are the jackhammers.”
Gilbert shared that she herself identifies in the jackhammer category, who she defines as someone who becomes consumed by their passion and “we don’t look up and we don’t veer, and we’re just focused on that until the end of time.”
“It’s efficient, you get a lot done” she admits, “but we tend to be obsessive and fundamentalist and sometimes a little difficult and loud.”
And then there’s the hummingbird, the colourful bird that floats around.
"Hummingbirds spend their lives doing it very differently. They move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, to field to field... Trying this, trying that."
Gilbert explains that whilst hummingbirds may feel anxious about not immediately finding their passion, they shouldn't feel pressure to change.
"They create incredibly rich, complex lives for themselves and they also end up cross-pollinating. That is the service you do if you are a hummingbird person," Gilbert, who has a new book City of Girls being released this year, shared.