There are a couple things that all of us hear, undoubtedly, in our lives. One is “What are you plans for the future?” and the other is “You should follow your heart and pursue your passion!”
The former can become very annoying, whereas the latter is supposed to make us feel confident and inspired. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to follow my dreams or pursue my passion, I have a tendency to freeze up. How am I supposed to do that? What if pursuing my passion means quitting my 9-5 job and being my own boss? How will I pay myself? How do I survive?
These questions get scarier and more intense as they are listed out, but no matter how many there are, one thing remains: How would I go about following my passion?
“Follow your passion” is an oversimplified statement.
Despite all the fear and doubts, I’ve learned to believe in myself and take steps to start following my passions. I’ve started out slow; I still have a steady, full-time job. And I make sure the job I’m in allows me to use my right brain frequently.
I’ve figured out the places I require compromise. I never accept a job in which I work weekends. I need that time to write and be creative. But it’s through figuring out that compromise that I’ve realized “follow your passion” is an oversimplified statement. We need to take a lot more consideration in choosing our career.
Following your passion doesn’t mean you need to be all-in.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals. Then I wanted to be a member of the Spice Girls because I loved to sing and I thought they had the coolest shoes. As time went on, I decided I would be a fashion designer and make all my own clothes.
As I grew up, I grew out of this habit of changing my plans on a daily basis. I’m still passionate about singing, so I have a band. We perform on weekends, which is another reason why I won’t accept a full time career that would require me to work on Saturday and Sunday. I’m also passionate about writing which is why I have freelance work and write novels in my spare time. I can still do things I absolutely love without giving up a steady paycheck. And of course, the long-term goal would be to make those passions my main job.
Feel highly motivated when someone tells you to follow your passion? Wait, you should ask yourself these 7 questions first.
When I sing, people will tell me to audition for a reality singing contest. That’s very sweet of them, because I know it means they think I should be famous, but for now I’m so happy doing music the way I want to do it. And when I publish poetry or other writings, people ask why I don’t do it full time. For now, fear of the unknown sometimes holds me back. i.e. not knowing where my next paycheck would be coming from and when. These adjustments have worked for me, and it’s because I knew what questions to ask myself.
- When I think of what I’m passionate about, is it just one thing? If you’re like me, and passionate about many things, honor that! If you feel drawn to multiple talents or hobbies, don’t feel that you have to abandon one to pursue the other. Just because someone tells you “You should be an [insert passion-based career here], it doesn’t mean you should put yourself in a scary position and take a leap of faith any time soon.
- Am I good enough to stand out from the crowd? Maybe you’re passionate about video game design. There are many people pursuing that very thing, but perhaps you have a natural ability to do something that it takes most people years of education to figure out. Don’t let yourself be talked out of a passion just because there is a lot of competition in the field. If someone tells you to pursue it, they obviously see your potential. Don’t be afraid to recognize it in yourself. And if you feel like you aren’t good enough yet, then how can you focus on improving your skills?
- Can I really turn my passion into a career? This is the question you probably ask yourself every day. Yes, I love to sing, but if I tried out for a contest, would I lose? I love to write, but if I sent a book to be published, would they laugh at it? When it comes to something you’re passionate about, it takes hard work and dedication to turn it from a hobby into a career. For now, find ways to include your hobbies into your job. As a technical writer, I get to write for a living but still flex my right brain muscles when it comes to creating templates and general documentation. Perspective plays a big part!
- Do I have thorough understanding of the industry related to my passion? Sometimes, the answer is going to be no. Even if you absolutely love the thing you’re passionate about, the industry that comes with it could require years of training and education. This should not automatically deter you from chasing after it. Make sure to weigh your options before taking that leap. If you don’t feel you know enough today, could you educate yourself tomorrow?
- Can my passion be transformed in another form? When we are trying to make a career out of the thing we are passionate about, we usually develop a very narrow focus. When I was looking for a job, I knew I wanted to write. So I, of course, looked for jobs that boasted the word “writer.” I never imagined I would fall into a technical writer position, but it wound up being a great way to translate what I love into something I can make money doing. If you’re opinionated, you could be an advice columnist, a public speaker or a politician. Don’t put blinders on when it comes to your future.
- Can I support myself if I turn my passion into my career? I know it probably seems like I’m harping on this point, but it’s about self-preservation. If you’re able to do something you love, that’s great! But is it paying the bills? Are you able to keep food on the table? Do you have the basic necessities covered and enough cash to go out with friends? It’s sad to think about focusing solely on financial success; it seems like compromising love for a paycheck, but it’s about being able to take care of yourself. So if you’re an artist, and you know you love to create, could you do web design? Maybe you could become a graphic designer. Sometimes creativity is required when it comes to merging passion and success.
- If I had to do it every day for money, would it still be my passion? When I was in college, I started off as a voice major (singing) because it came with a scholarship. It sounds great, right? I love to sing and now I’m going to school for it, woohoo! But that wasn’t the case. When I was forced to do this thing, no matter how much I loved it, for grades and success, it became very depressing. After all, I wanted to sing classic rock, not Italian arias. I love playing shows now and making money, of course! But the fact remains: when you’re forced to do something, day after day, it suddenly loses its purity and becomes a controller.
Let’s sum it all up.
What it comes down to is self-awareness. It’s key to know what moves you, what inspires you and what makes you want to wake up in the morning. But it’s also important to know when those people in your life, no matter how supportive, need to be ignored. “You should do this for a living!” and “Wow, you are so good at this! Why aren’t you making money?” are rooted in respect and gratitude, but only you know when to pursue something you love and therefore allow it to define who you are. It’s not a bad thing to let a talent remain a hobby. And it’s also not a bad thing to let a hobby become a profession. But know where to draw the line and how to stay happy.
|The Muse: Why “Follow Your Passion” is Pretty Bad Advice