Ok, it’s philosophy time. Turn off the TV, close those chat windows. The world won’t miss you for a few hours.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Kids naturally do this; they try to imagine trying on different lives and decide what they want to do. They imagine very fanciful things when they are very young, and they lower their expectations until their teen age years, when they have enough schooling to realize just what hard work it will be to be an adult in a few years. They still want the moon and stars, but only want to work hard enough to get by. And all the while they do not realize: “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”
Because all a young adult hears is the negative ideas and pessimism of their peers. “You want to do what?”, they say, “Get your head out of the clouds!” You’d be better off doing this or that, it’s a guaranteed paycheck. You don’t want to take big risks and end up in a hard way with no money and nobody who believes in you.
And so we huddle back in our secure groove, and we learn to conform. A twenty-two year-old is actually the most conservative person in the world. They take no chances, they stick to a plan not because they love it, not because they see gold at the end of the rainbow, but because they know it will be a secure way to live.
Quickly, the mid-twenties person finds and studies failures: the homeless man pushing the cart down the street, the urban junkies, the soulless and loveless shuffling dejectedly through the world. Poor fools, thinks the twenty-something, they were stupid enough to chase impractical dreams and pursue idealistic notions that led them no where. Luckily I’m too smart to do that. And off goes the twenty-something, on their way to their droning class to obtain a meaningless degree that will lead them to a cubicle that feels like a coffin. But they’re safe!
Or so they think. Later in life, they will start feeling frustrated. Difficulties happen; mishaps and stumbling blocks all over the place. And the twenty-something is becoming a thirty-year-old, and a forty-year-old, and with each passing decade begins to question their path more and more. Why is this self-doubt so common? It is because they did not do what they loved.
That thing you love, your special talent, the skills that you uniquely have, those are still with you. They tell you that you will be happier if you would have listened to them. They speak to you, asking why you turned away from them. No matter how unmarketable those skills and ambitions might have seemed at one time, now you start to see people all around you turning them into money. Now, how did that happen? those were the people who might have gotten off to a rockier start, but they seem happier now than you do.
A few things you learn after awhile are that people who seem happy in their security seldom are, that people are often not as successful as they seem, and that dreams can be denied, broken, rejected, and hidden, but they cannot be killed. You see people start up hobbies and second jobs later on, as a way to partly alleviate their boredom.
Because boredom and a feeling of unfulfillment are the hardest things to live with. An old saying goes, “If your work is work, you’re in the wrong line of work.” This is very true. If you are doing what you love, you can not do a bad job of it if you tried. You indulge in it, you revel in it. It makes you feel more fully yourself. To you, there is little difference between work and leisure time. If you are doing what you love, the money can not help but follow.
But this takes bravery. Doesn’t it feel funny to see that word in print again? Bravery seems to be leeched out of today’s global economy. We accept our number and our seat, we don’t make waves, we toe the line and do just what is expected of us, but no more. Bravery. Bravery isn’t about not being scared. Bravery is being as scared as all get out… and doing it anyway.
You don’t have to derail your whole life. You can do things in little increments. Change gradually. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop. Stopping is a bad thing. You will meet discouragements and disappointments. But nobody ever raised a statue to commemorate somebody who gave up. Just remember that the temptation to quit will be at its strongest just before you succeed.
The reward, if you win your goal, is the sweetest nectar you have ever tasted. Your pay could be less than what it is now, your in-laws could be shaking their heads at you, you might discover that your new dream has some hassles and problems too. But none of that will matter. Because you listened to you, for a change.
Freelance writer for over eleven years.