“Kids, I’m going to tell you something right now. Statistics show that you work for one-third of your life. So please, if you’re going to take anything away from this class, let it be this: in terms of choosing a career path, make sure that you love whatever you do.”
I quote this piece of advice from my eighth grade earth science teacher. While I did not put much thought into a career path back in middle school when she was addressing this matter, I did walk away from her class with this teaching pinned to the back of my mind – along with the fact that those dark rain clouds are scientifically termed “nimbostratus.”
I went throughout high school unsure of what I wanted to do with my life (which at that time was somewhat acceptable). In the blink of an eye, it was time to apply for college. It seemed that every person around me knew what he or she wanted to do, which essentially influenced where they were applying. Potential engineers, physical therapists, doctors, and business men/women swarmed around me, constantly chatting about the salaries they would eventually bring in post-undergraduate/graduate school. Of course, I felt the need to hop on this exciting, prosperous career train: “I want to go into medicine,” I claimed to the high school peers around me. This statement was always followed by immediate “ooh’s” and “aah’s” and supportive slaps on the back. These same reactions continued in my introducing myself as an official “pre-med” student once I was in college. Eyebrows would raise, awestruck facial expressions would follow, and the term “wow” was often included as well. I felt smart. I felt impressive. I felt important.
After I wrapped up my first semester of college, I looked back on my pre-med classes in disgust. Though I was successful in completing these courses while maintaining a great GPA, I realized that I never looked forward to the classes when walking into them, and I never felt fulfilled when walking out of them. I was constantly and stressfully force-feeding myself an education that did not excite me, all to pursue a career that would simply conclude in big, fat paychecks. At this moment, an alarm had begun to go off in my head, but I simply pressed “snooze” and continued to chase this wealthy career path.
It was mid-way through my second semester that this alarm had rung louder than ever. I finally realized that I could not endure my personal boredom and misery on this path any longer. After much careful thought, I filled out an application to switch my major, and began to focus and channel my interest into other classes that were potential interests to me. This time was when I fell upon, what is now, my true passion: journalism.
Often times when I tell people of this change of heart, the previous, supportive slaps on the back turn into responses similar to this:
But I did not care.
All throughout my life I have loved and excelled in writing. I never considered looking into it as a career, however, because I was told that “there is no money in the field.” Initially seeing this possibility as a turn-off, I pushed this interest away from me, even as I continued to get an “A” on paper after paper in college.
Finally, this past summer I became honest with myself and began to do research regarding job possibilities in journalism, specifically the broadcasting field. While the pay varies depending on the channel, location, and various other factors, I realized that it didn’t matter to me. The idea of being in front of the camera filming the local news, chatting up celebrities on entertainment channels, or interviewing athletes made me so unbelievably excited. Just the mere thought of these possibilities inspired me to get a jump-start on pursuing this career, such as through internship or shadowing programs. This spark, my friends, is called passion.
Had I had these same feelings when studying in the medical field, of course I would never have decided to leave it. However, I was forcing myself into a corner that simply was not meant for me personally, all because I wanted to make money.
Now, do not get me wrong, money is certainly important. We need it, we crave it, so, we make it. My point here is that I am willing to go above and beyond to make a living while doing something I love – this could include working a second job that has flexible hours, such as waitressing or babysitting. While money is important to our lives, our lives should not be solely focused on money. But of course, some other people may think differently, and that is okay too.
Personally, I have learned not to make money, or a career for that matter, my goal. My goal in life, I have finally realized, is to follow my passions. Following passions will result in more happiness, more success, and more benefit to that field, as opposed to simply following a career based on how prosperous it will make you in the end.
Keep in mind: we spend one-third of our life working; we spend one-third of our life sleeping; and we spend one-third of our life doing everything in between.
Live up that one-third of free time.
Sleep well for the other one-third.
And as for that final one-third, the career-oriented portion of your life?
Well, I’ll leave you with this: love the work that you do, aim to make a difference in the world around you, and allow your talents and passions to shine through every single day.