Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman
We are told to go to school. We are told to succeed. We are expected to go to college, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are expected to know exactly what we want to do with our lives, sometimes before we even begin. We graduate, even though the majority of our knowledge was thrown at us too quickly and too broadly to sustain. We are then inserted into a workforce that sees us as inferior because our ideals look different than they did twenty years ago. We struggle, and never truly find the general steadiness of life that existed in the younger days of our parents. Now, everything is just daunting.
This is the reality for so many young adults, the expectation that this is how life will be, that we had better have three years of internships under our belts before we graduate or we will never find jobs.
Rarely are we told there are alternate paths, some that lead elsewhere in the world, some that keep us close to home, some that have us skipping college altogether. They forgot to remind us that in the midst of a modern workforce and paying the bills, passion is still important.
But there are alternate paths, and the path you take to achieving everything you want in life is not always a brightly-lit yellow brick road waiting for you to follow. There are twists and turns in every direction, there are disappointments and roadblocks, but that doesn’t make it less valid. And while you are out there searching for or following whatever path you choose, remember that passion is still important.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you, nor the life you want to lead. A funny thing about the way our modern life works is that it is all about work. What if life could revolve around your passion, instead of working hard just to include your passion?
It is hard to balance work and passion. We see this most commonly in millennials, in a world that constantly tells us we need to know exactly what we want to do and hone that path with a fine tooth comb to make even a fraction of what our parents made. This path is increasingly being encouraged at younger and younger ages, with many colleges requiring a declaration of major before even applying. How can an eighteen-year-old who has only ever taken mandatory high school classes know what they want to be when they grow up? The exception to this is not the rule. For every young teen who just knows they are going to be a firefighter or nurse when they grow up, there are one hundred more kids stuck between a million other priorities and interests. The years after high school should be spent discovering, not settling into a life-long path that fails to provide the opportunity to explore not only interests but also who you are as a person.
Don’t get stuck, and don’t become complacent. Complacency leads to a lack of passion and never ends positively, especially when the opposite could prove more fruitful than you ever thought possible. Life is an ever-changing journey of self-discovery, and forcing someone to pick what they are going to be when they grow up can close the door on so many possibilities for your life.
Have you done something for yourself today? Did that something make you happy? How did that happiness feel? Did it inspire you? Did it make you want to live better, to be better? Did it give you an opportunity to imagine something more for yourself? If so, you’re headed in the right direction.
Because your life can’t be built in a day. It takes hard work, and sometimes work you are not necessarily passionate about. But as long as you are fostering your passions in some way, there is hope that work won’t always be work.
Sometimes, especially to the young adult, it can feel like people walk around knowing the secret to life. Knowing exactly what they want to do, knowing how to make money and balance life, health, and sanity. For the rest of us, life is not so clean cut. We struggle.
If you ever struggle with thoughts of failure or insignificance, know that the majority of people feel this way. I changed my major three times before I discovered one I was passionate about, and even then, there was no direct path after graduation. College also isn’t the only answer. Knowledge and intelligence is really all relative, and spending time becoming an expert in something you are passionate about, whether it is a conventional career path or not, could lead you down some exciting roads. We all like to think we would like to change the world, but the first step to making a positive difference in someone else’s life is making a positive difference in your own life, and that begins with living as passionately as you can.