Take in a big whiff, wherever you are. Do it right now.
Maybe you’re smelling the bittersweet aroma of coffee. Maybe it’s the B.O of the guy on the train who’s sitting just a little too close to you. Maybe you’re reading this blog out in a pasture, surrounded by floral scents. Maybe that smell is stale pizza and shame.
There is one thing that encompasses all of these smells and many more.
Anyone who’s existing on the planet Earth right now knows that jobs and careers are a solid 60% of life.
Everyone knows the pattern. You start Kindergarten at the tender age of 5 (at least that’s how it goes in the good ole’ US) and, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you end college when you’re 24. Let’s all be honest here and admit that a Bachelor’s degree just isn’t enough in a lot of ‘successful’ fields.
Once you graduate with a Master’s, you’re expected to find a job in whatever field you chose to spend 6 years of your life, well, mastering.
You find that job, you work that job or in that field until you’re about 68, then spend the rest of your life on retirement.
That’s the formula to success. That’s the formula everyone is expected to follow in order to be happy.
One problem, though. It’s stupid bullshit.
People like to put things in boxes. It gives our brains the pleasure tingles to categorize and separate ideas, and even people, into boxes.
If you’re one of the many people who don’t find fulfillment in a 40 hour per week, 9am to 5pm job where you’re bending over backwards to make someone else even more money, then you’re a ‘loser’. You’re unsuccessful. What’s wrong with you, you ingrate? A full time job not enough to please you? Be glad you even have a job, you millenial.
What’s that? You also don’t want to go to college? Or, you do want to go but your passions align with the liberal arts instead of STEM? Saddle up, bucko, and get ready to ride the unemployment train. Better make sure your lips are well moisturized too because you’ll be suckling on the teet of the government for years to come.
So, I’m a loser. An ingrate. I’m unsuccessful at life because I don’t want to follow that pattern. I went through college and changed my shiny Biology major into a hand-me-down English major. And I loved it. I will never regret switching majors and pursuing something I truly enjoy.
But of course, an English major is one where jobs are hard to come by. At least jobs that directly relate to what you want to do, understand that you just graduated (looking at you entry level job postings that require 5+ years of experience), and are local. Your best bet is building a base as a freelancer and hoping that those leads will either land you a more stable gig or be plentiful enough to support your wants.
And that’s the trade-off, isn’t it?
I’m currently in my first full time position and I can’t stand it. I can’t sleep well anymore because I consistently dream about it and wake up. I get sick to my stomach before going in. I dread being there and have destroyed at least 5 stress balls. I’m told that this is normal. I’m told that what I’m experiencing is something everyone goes through and I should just stick it out until it becomes bearable. It’s the highest paying position I’ve ever had and if I play my cards right, I can have my school loans paid off in two and a half years. I can move out on my own. I don’t have to have anxiety about money for some time.
But, to me, it’s not worth it. No job, no career, nothing is worth having to fight off sickness because your body is pleading you not to go in. Nothing is worth crying on the way home everyday after work. Nothing is worth your weekends being ruined because every minute that passes by is a minute closer to your next shift.
The trade off to pursuing your passion is instability. It’s risk. It’s scary. It’s ramen noodle cups and moving in with other people that might be just a little bit more stable than you are. But the reward of doing what you love and hopefully, eventually, making income off it is what the definition of fulfillment is.
At least, that’s the hope.
There’s no guarantee that any hard work is going to end up with results that put food on the table. Same as there is no guarantee that the job you have now that pays well is one that you’ll have 6 months from now.
Nothing is set in stone and sometimes people need a little bit of serendipity and faith in themselves to jerk themselves onto a better path than the one they’re currently on.
We’re all in one big, messy, shitty rat race that clumps people together and pushes them towards a beat up flag that says ‘wealth’.
But I feel like I’m ready to turn my head and gaze outside of the race lines for once. I’m ready to take those first few nervous steps across the track lines and into the unknown. And if any of the above post relates to you and has you nodding up and down, well, maybe you’re ready too.