For many college students, deciding on a career path is a daunting challenge. Some students have a good idea about what they want to do (congratulations nursing, engineering, or education majors), but for others, the decision on one career focus is a daunting one (yes, I am thinking specifically about us English majors).
Everyone has heard the age-old advice, "Follow your passion. Find a career you love and you'll never work a day in your life!" What does that really mean, though? How do we find something that we're actually passionate about? What does it even look like to be passionate about something?
Perhaps the easier way to go about finding your passion is to consider things that you love to do. People who love to cook can become chefs, people who love a particular sport can pursue a career in it or coach others, or people who love kids can become teachers, just to name a few glaringly obvious professions. These are the obvious routes to finding an occupation, though. If you know what you love, then it's not hard to find something you're passionate about.
The real struggle comes into play when you don't know what you love. Sure, you enjoyed all your high school English classes, so you would probably enjoy being an English major in college, but then what? You're not passionate about literature or writing; you succeed in these areas, but they don't fuel your soul. You don't want to teach; you like kids well enough, but you don't really want to spend your whole life in the school system.
The English major example is just one case of what can occur in any discipline. Many people majoring in history, biology, art, mathematics, sociology, or a plethora of others, know exactly what I'm talking about. If you find yourself in this category, as I did, try a new approach: find something that makes you angry.
When people talk about being passionate about their job, we tend to think that means they're working in some capacity that allows them to do what they love. However, there is a completely different way to think about it. You can passionately love, but you can also passionately hate.
Think about what goes on in the world around you that makes you mad. When you watch the news, which negative parts make you not just sad or concerned, but angry? What evil(s) in the world do you hate in the core of your being? The answers to these questions may hold a career idea.
This happened for me while working at a summer camp for disadvantaged and, often, abused children. It was after my senior year of high school, and I had already decided to major in English at Tennessee Tech because I was good at it.
I had no idea what to do with that, though. Through the camp I worked at, I saw how mistreated some of the children were. It made me sad, but more than that, it enraged me. I was furious with their parents and disillusioned with a society that would allow such things to happen.
I also had the opportunity to meet some incredible people who work to solve the most horrible problems that a child could endure, one of which was a lawyer. After hearing about her career, I knew that I wanted to pursue a very similar path.
I made the plan to attend law school after graduating TTU, and throughout my time so far at Tech, I have been working to gain the skills to ensure that I will be able to do that. I found something I'm passionate about, but it didn't come out of something I loved. It came through something I hated more than anything else.
If following what you love isn't working out, try pursuing a fight against something you hate. There is certainly more than one way to find and follow a passion.