Last Sunday, I met up with my friend Maura for brunch. Afterwards, since it was such a gorgeous day outside, we planned to walk our usual loop down Earl, across Adams, and around Folgersanger; a three mile loop that’s served us well the past academic year.
As we walked along Earl, our hair coming out of our hairties and whipping in our faces as trucks and semis passed us on the busy road, we began talking about our places in life: where we were going and how we were going to get there.
Maura has been feeling lost lately. Being an undeclared major approaching her sophomore year, she’s going to be expected to declare a major soon. And, she is unsure of what exactly she wants to do. Because she has no clue where to start examining herself, where to start thinking about what her strengths and desires are, and where to start planning for the future, she’s been overwhelmed and stressed more than she’d care to be lately, prompting her to just ignore the building uncertainty and anxiety.
I’ve been there.
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.” ― Alan W. Watts
When I entered college, I was set on being a teacher. I wanted to inspire kids with a passion for reading, to help them grow their writing skills, and to make a difference in multiple lives daily. Nevertheless, I began to take education classes and they just weren’t for me. All of a sudden my secure job and career plan evaporated and I was lost just like Maura. I realized my true passion lay in writing but I was always told that you couldn’t make a life from that.
“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” ― Ayn Rand
Whoever told me that you can’t really make money from writing was so wrong. Being an English major with writing skills doesn’t limit me like the stereotype leads you to believe. It actually makes me marketable to wide variety of disciplines and career paths.
Case in point: the kinds of internships I applied for this semester: marketing, publishing, communications, human resources, customer service, content creation, advertising, writing, editing, etc. (I applied to a lot of internships.) Everyone needs a writer, and the jobs are truly endless.
But where people get overwhelmed is when they think there’s only one path that you can take; they think that there’s only one standard job. This thinking limits their field of vision and prevents them from seeing just how much is out there for whatever you’re interested in.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always think this way. It took an early quarter-life crisis to snap me out of the box I’d confined myself to, to see just how many ways I could achieve my dream of writing for a living: for companies, for nonprofits, for corporations, for publications; as a freelancer, as a professional, as an employee. And, I will continue to have this blog to write personally.
Not many people find their passion or purpose in life. But some people do, and when they recognize what they’re good at, they try to make a life from it. Maura is an example: she loves working with kids and she would love to do that in the future. She doesn’t want to teach, but she’s been thinking about going into occupational therapy or behavioral therapy, but she was unsure if that would really be the right place for her.
But let me tell you something else about Maura: she loves art. So on our walk, with my open mind, I suggested Art Therapy. But I wasn’t just handing her a major and career on a platter. That has to be Maura’s decision. More importantly, I gave her some suggestions as to how to adjust her thinking about the future and her career.
Instead of approaching general education classes as something you just have to slug through, use them to develop and experience underlying interests. Take what your teachers are giving you in each of your classes and try to see how you can use it in the real world. And, above all: NEVER SETTLE.
“There will be people that will say you can’t make a living out of something you love to do. But are you really living buy not doing it?” ― Olan Rogers
Internships, jobs, careers…they’re why we go to college, they’re what we inevitably confront at some point in our four years, and they’re what can make or break our futures. But, they’re not something we should fear; they’re something we should face head-on without looking back because….
When you have a passion, you create a dream; when you have a dream, you create a plan; when you have a plan, you create opportunities to achieve it; and when you create opportunities to achieve it, you create success.
So dream on dreamers! Go out, find those passions, and live!