“You can be anything you want when you grow up” is one of the first promises we’re equipped with when entering the academic world. At such a curious and floundering age, these words sparked excitement as we anticipated the vision that one day we could be veterinarians! Firefighters! And tall enough to grab the cookies from the top shelf!
Then one day we grow up and we discover that school’s not all about pencil crayons, that thesis statements are a real and enduring thing— but also that being a vet means getting into a school in lonely Alberta, and firefighters actually have to, ya know, tackle fires. Dreams that we were encouraged to foster and to treasure turn out to be more of fantasies than possibilities, and we learn to comply to more “realistic” goals.
And some of us (read: me) still can’t reach those frigging cookies.
But then we discover another beautiful notion that looks a little something like “Hey! Why don’t I find a job related to something I love? Then… I’ll never have to work a day in my life.” And with that ambition tucked right next to our overpriced textbooks, we enter post-sec still with hope that our future day-to-day career can still be something we enjoy. Hopefully, this turns out true for the majority of us. In reality however, there will be many of us for whom this will not happen and work doesn’t turn out to be something we gleefully leave our bed in the mornings for.
If is the case, it’s okay. It seems that the obligation to drag ourselves every day to a job we don’t like is the most nightmarish of things, even to myself, but a career out of our interests is not the end of the world and this is why:
1) Your self-fulfilment does not depend on what you do for a living. There is a construct that if you “give up on your dream,” you are denying yourself from becoming “who you truly are,” but sometimes other priorities, such as rent or family, loom higher than our “dream.” Some of us will never have a job we feel matches our “identity.” But then we can remember all those other ambitions we’ve achieved that are just as fulfilling, as well as the handful of new ones we’ve picked up along the way. A job does not determine whether or not we’ve remained true to ourselves and our dreams.
2) A career relating to what you are passionate about will never bring you the same relaxation and joy as working on that interest on your own time. For example, if writing, albeit being something you truly enjoy, was something you did as a career, you’d have deadlines, a supervisor over your shoulder, and restrictions as to what you can write about. At the end of the day (no pun intended) work will always be work, and the water-downed delight you get from your job will not compare to how much you enjoy doing a hobby of that area at home in your glorious onesie. So if you don’t find something you love, rest assured that you’re not missing out on much.
3) Your career is not the primary determinant of happiness in your life. Even though it does occupy a considerable amount of time in your week, it doesn’t define what your life is. A job in the end, in its simplest and most fundamental form, is merely a means for us to earn money in order to survive. The potential joys we can derive from any job does not come close to what we receive from our family, friends, and the things we indulge in on a Saturday night (a holler at my fellow Netflixers and book nerdlings). Relationships and personal hobbies are the way to go for happiness— not our form of employment.
If you find a job relating to something you love, cheers to you, but if you don’t, don’t sweat it. Just take a deep breath, sip at your caffeine fix, and think about all the awesome things waiting for you at home after you’re finished the day’s worth of this little thing called “work.”