I told my friend I wanted a job that made me happy. I expressed how tired I was of trying to adhere to a system that weighed down so heavily on my shoulders. I wanted to enjoy whatever profession I chose to purse. He responded with a sarcastic giggle, that he wants that as well…but then again, he also wants to be rich. It’s not an uncommon thought.
The two scenarios are evidently mutually exclusive in the minds of many – pursue a job you love and sacrifice wealth, or in my opinion, get suckered into a 9 to 5, most likely unhappily because the prospects and benefits of stability and comfort are better than not.
Those fortunate enough to attend college are placed in beneficial positions. Higher education is said to open more opportunities, and in many instances this is true. But just as more doors are open, decisions become more complex, opportunities clash with interests, and it’s easy to wonder what path is the right one to take.
Parents and guardians seem to be the forefront and center motivations of our actions in life.
We want to make them proud. We want to continue the foundation they have laid for us, or even want to prove them wrong and make something bigger of ourselves. Whichever option resonates most for you, this pressure can be difficult to cope with. Especially for a first generation student, the first longing, that feeling of pride, can be immeasurable, burdensome, and emotionally taxing.
It can hinder you from pursuing you passion because that passion isn’t regarded as being good enough, as substantial enough as a more “prestigious” profession.
As children, many of us grow up with the words doctor, lawyer, president, and scientist in the wings ready to announce at a moment’s notice when asked “what do we want to be when we grow up.” Because we’ve learned this is what’s profitable, it’s what’s secure. What about artists, writers, landscapers – the creative hobbies that could blossom into professions? Do they not count? Are they not good enough?
I’ve always had a passion for writing, though it took me awhile to realize it. As I child, maybe even as young as 7 years old, I wrote chapters for books that never were completed. They were love stories, spy stories, everything interesting to a kid. In high school I picked it up again, through my own personal musings about the world around me. Since then the passion, the longing has never left – its only grown stronger.
So now I’m left in this dilemma, which I imagine many creatives find themselves in. How do I make this passion of mine profitable? How do I survive? Instilled by my mother’s wishes, I pursed a Biology related degree and have the liberty of applying to profitable health jobs across the board – doctor, scientist, researcher, even lawyer. There they appear again.
The choice is mine, but I still feel as though I lack free-will. I feel morally and economically bound to choose the option that comes with financial subsistence.
There are of course those individuals who do pursue what they love, make a living from it, and live contently – like the writers whose stories are published in The New Yorker or the artist whose work gets sold in commercial galleries.
Perhaps it’s naïve in thinking, but in my eyes these individuals are heroes. They turn passion into livelihood and refute societal norms and familial expectations. I don’t know if I’ll be a hero, and if you’re in a similar position, perhaps you won’t be either. It’s okay to choose the 9 to 5. For some that is happiness.
I just don’t know if that will ever be enough, and I fear the day that it is.
If you do find yourself in this challenge, just remember to have faith in yourself and your abilities – to learn, to grow, and to prosper in whatever you do. The greatest challenge that always seems to hold us back and keep those passions at bay, is the mind.
It’s easier said than done as there can be so many conflicting variables that shape our course of action throughout life – financial abilities, family ties, the burden of time – everything matters. Hold your head up and have faith in what you can best contribute to the world – where your energy, skill, and power will be most beneficial. And then go from there.1