Sixth grade had just begun. Nervously, I glanced at my peers, wondering what the new year would bring. My teacher began discussing mundane start of the year tasks. What would we accomplish this year? How will we improve ourselves?
Soon, she posed the following question: “If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?”
Stunned, I sat frozen to my seat.
I had never given the topic much thought. Why would I have ever given the idea any prior consideration? I was in sixth grade. Should I really be considering a future post high-school at that age?
Dazed, I peered around the classroom. Noting the distinct noise of pencil and frustrated eraser smudges on paper, I grabbed my notebook. The clock ticked; minutes passed. I glanced at the board. My teacher had listed professions underneath the journal topic. Examples to get our creative juices flowing, she assured us. Doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse, firefighter, policeman. All wonderful, worthy options. Yet none appealed to me.
I sat still for another few minutes. What should I do with my life? I wondered. As time ran out, I pondered my interests. Settling on marine biologist as my desired profession, I scribbled in my journal.
Ten minutes passed. My teacher asked if anyone would like to share their chosen path with the class. A few students piped up. I kept quiet.
I felt indifferent. Unmoved. Did I actually want to become a marine biologist? Not in the least. The writing felt rushed and unnerving. Eventually, my teacher moved on to a new topic. I put my notebook away and listened, forgetting about the passion hunt and focusing on the task at hand.
Career? Am I Supposed To Like It?
The concern of our future is pushed onto us as children. People readily feel the need to improve. The desire to accomplish more than they already have is a driving, emotional force.
It starts young. Society urges parents, teacher, and mentors to push children. Young folks are coerced to make decisions that will improve the general public. My first recollection is from elementary school. Others were handed this task much earlier in life.
Deciding on a career path takes time. Choosing a passionate journey requires even more time. This quest may take a lifetime. Others may need four years spent pursuing an undergraduate degree. The lucky ones follow the career path they chose for themselves at a young age. For those who decided on a doctoral pursuit at the age of 7 – congratulations! You are part of a small, yet very fortunate group.
My personal path may not have been chosen for me. But my professional journey has yet to meet my expectations.
We have been told our passion will be found once we grow up. We hold tight to that belief, dreaming of a future where all our dreams and aspirations are eventually realized.
College, we hope, will mold us; help us make difficult decisions. Perhaps the 20 page research papers, textbook reading sessions, and lengthy lectures will mean something. We hope the degree we receive will have meaning, and that it will be more than a piece of paper stowed in a closet under the stairs.
For some, hard work results in instant gratification. For these folks, the possibility of finding a field job post-graduation is possible. Others may require more effort to reach that dream.
What follows are the rest of us. The folks who changed their college major more than 3 times. The people who graduate in a field of their choice, but left college with no real job prospects. This group is just as hardworking as their peers who landed an ideal job. And no – professional attitude is not stifling them. Perhaps their geographic area doesn’t cater to their chosen field. Maybe their passion requires digging to find the right job opportunity.
You can spend a lifetime fretting over which path will suit you best. Perhaps you will spend 20 years working the judicial system. Maybe you will work 12 months as a nurse.
One day you may wake, concerned and frazzled, wondering: Am I actually following my passion?
You may take a night auditor job at a local hotel, but your life’s dream may be different. Don’t ever feel threatened by your peers regarding your future. Some are content in the path life has provided them. Others reach a point where they wish to work, retire, and rejoice with family in the meantime.
Life needn’t revolve around work – unless you prefer it that way. Yet your career must take center stage every so often. Money is required to live somewhat comfortably. But why should we feel pressured to decide our passion as a child?
Not all college graduates know, or will even begin to understand the life he will lead. Not all adults are content with the profession they chose. Life will create turbulence. We are merely along for the ride. How we take that ride will differ for us all.
Are you accomplishing the career goals listed in your sixth grade journal? If not, that’s okay. Life will go on. You will find your niche with time. Find your passion, stick with it, and work hard. Your passion and efforts will eventually pay off.
Disregard the Naysayers
No, you don’t need to pursue nursing simply because you are ‘good’ at it. Are you passionate about the job? If so, continue on if you like. If not, try something new.
Embrace the world around you and live your dream with vigor. Take chances and try new things. Don’t sit idly by if you are merely ‘content’ with your life. Do something about it. You must put in the effort to be happy before the world will change around you.
Life will not provide you with handouts.
Disregard the pressure to stick with a career move you made as a young adult. If the title no longer suits you, toss it aside for one that fits.
Live well and ensure your happiness. You will be far better off.