People often ask me how I have the energy to balance school, several board commitments, and lead a nonprofit organization. I just say “because I love what I do.” That response is either received with a smile and excitement (at a young age I found what truly makes me happy!), or, more often than not, bewilderment. “Even if you have what you do, you can still get frustrated and want a break. I don’t think you ever truly know what your passion is.”

I agree that frustration and wanting a break, even when you live the life of your dreams, is common. Life is stressful, and oftentimes what we love the most also causes us the most stress. However, it is a different type of stress than what people traditionally call stress. You love something so much that you want to do it justice. It hurts when something or someone gets in the way of that progress or goal. That is the worst type of stress to experience, but also the best. When that happens, you know you have found your calling, and that is something special. I do not agree that you never truly know what your passion is. Some people just chose not to follow that passion.

People also ask me how I found my calling and turned that into a thriving profession. It wasn’t easy. I had to work hard and really think critically about where I wanted to go. It was all about strategy. I drew a roadmap and determined where I wanted to go and how I was going to get there. The biggest mistake people can make is having an end goal and not a journey goal!

When working with young people, I always ask what their passions are and what makes them excited to do something. It could be basketball, writing, math…you name it. I then encourage them to take that passion and try to implement it into something else they are working on – maybe it is a school assignment or project for a club. Find those connections that aren’t as obvious and embrace the uncomfortable.

What if you could do that passion full time? It is possible! Think outside of the box. I loved playing chess, and I wanted to share that passion with others, so I started a nonprofit dedicated to empowering people through the game. Did I know anything about teaching and building curriculum? No, but I knew chess and that was enough.

People don’t do certain things because they don’t think they are good enough. Well, even the best people had to learn. There was once a time when Albert Einstein didn’t know physics, and Mia Hamm didn’t know how to play soccer.

No one can find your purpose for you. I can’t tell you what to do and how to do it. Just because your passion isn’t obvious, doesn’t mean you don’t have one. I believe everyone has that one thing that brings them joy. If you want others to feel that joy, spread your vision, love, and excitement wide and far.


  • ashleylynnpriore

    Thrive Global Campus Editor-at-Large

    University of Pittsburgh

    Ashley Lynn Priore— an American chess player & coach, social & civic entrepreneur, nonprofit founder & consultant, political strategist & commentator, youth rights activist, innovative speaker, author & writer & poet, media personality, & mentor —is the founder, president and CEO of Queen's Gambit, a national, multi-departmental hybrid nonprofit and social enterprise using chess as a catalyst for change and a model to empower, educate, and impact a better society. Ashley is the author of four books, including Let's Learn Chess!, and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Politics at the University of Pittsburgh. She also leads Y-22, a youth on boards movement, Youth Political Strategies, a campaign organization supporting candidates who support young people, and Priore Consulting, an innovative strategy consulting firm. Ashley ran for public office in 2019 and remains committed to equitable politics (currently, she co-founded and co-leads Our Right to Justice which achieves for a more equitable Supreme Court). Her writing, focusing on politics, social justice, and entertainment, has been featured in national platforms including MS. Magazine, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.