As a kid, I was told I needed to get good grades in school. If I got good grades in school, I could get into college. If I got into college, I could secure a job in the workforce. If I secured a job, I would make money. And if I made money, I would be happy. I learned this “formula for success” and began to live by it.
Although this course of action holds some validity, it’s missing a key component: passion. Some of us have been told we must choose a sensible career that’s realistic for our abilities, but we don’t enjoy what we are doing. Maybe your parents want you to become a nurse, so you are studying to enter the medical field. But you hate the idea of working in a hospital or physician’s office. Deep down, you love writing and graphic design. Your dream is to work for a major publication one day. But for fear of failure and disappointing your parents, you stick with nursing. Ultimately, you are unhappy because you are not doing what you really enjoy.
Many of us have been caught in this conflict of passion vs. pursuit. In her book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher examines our struggles with discovering our passions in life and finding a career where we can foster them. Now you might be asking yourself, how can I figure out my life’s purpose from a book? Being the perpetual skeptic that I am, I thought that exact same thing. But Sher has many valid and helpful insights that have made me more confident and comfortable with my aspirations. I believe you too can benefit from her advice.
A few of my favorite sentiments from her book include:
- “What you love is what you’re gifted at. All of us have talents we’ve never used.” We all have things we love to do, but we may feel we can’t pursue a career involving them. But there is always a way to tap into your passion. For example, you may love music, but believe it isn’t realistic to work in the industry. But, you could teach, perform, or work for a music store, publication, or record label. There are many avenues by which you can take your passion and run with it.
- “College graduates can expect to hold ten to twelve jobs in three to five different fields during their working lifetime.” You probably will not be working the same job you have now in twenty years. So if you feel stuck, know that there are other opportunities in various areas waiting for you.
- “Even action in the wrong direction is informative. You are a success every time you face down fear.” At one point or another, we all deal with rejection. It can be easy to get discouraged by rejection and decide not to go after what you want. But you can also take rejection and turn it into a learning experience.
Written by Emily, Student Office Assistant