I went to a high school that highly valued the STEM fields and as a result, spent a whole lot of time wondering why I was not born with this coveted gift of understanding the inner-workings of cells or calculating intensely complicated equations.
My peers were doing some seriously incredible things. I found that a lot of these students were indeed excited and passionate about their future careers, but I also heard a lot of people saying things like, “I’ll probably be miserable, but at least I’ll have money.” I compared myself to the people at the top of my class who were bound for undoubtedly successful careers and felt lesser for being “just an arts and humanities person”. I can’t do the things that they’re doing so should I just get myself a business or law degree so I’ll have the money to have an expensive house and a fancy car in the future? Is that success?
I felt like everyone growing up always said “Follow your dreams! Follow your dreams!” and then all of a sudden when it came time to make big life decisions, everything became “Let’s be real here. Do you want to make money or not?”
I felt that people had this automatic assumption that I was taking both the easy path because I was not bound for MIT or Harvard, and because I didn’t want to be a doctor or businesswoman, but also the impossible path with lofty goals in competitive fields that are making less and less money each year.
Passion and practicality often do not align, but I know that my passion is valuable and will lead me to success. I refuse to settle. Life is short, and I want to cherish every moment of it. For me, that means following my dreams, as impractical as they may be. I want to be fulfilled and happy, and choosing a career path that allows me to achieve these goals does not mean that I’m not as intelligent, driven, or capable as the people with the more practical jobs. Call me naive. Call me an idealist. But I know that if I work hard and follow my passions, everything else will fall into place and my expectations for myself can indeed become reality.
In the very wise words of Theodore Herzl, “If you will it, it is no dream”. These are words I want to live by.
No matter your career path, you can do incredible things; Any career path can inspire, innovate and make an impact. It’s OK to choose a future that will make you happy. Success is defined in different ways for different people, and my definition of success is happiness. I firmly believe that if you have the passion to achieve your goals, any career path can give you a successful and fulfilling life. And that is what is truly valuable.