Choose Life, Not a Career!

Two weeks ago I met a Canadian girl in my local neighborhood bar. We came to talk about what we do and what we have accomplished job-wise in New York. When saying our good-byes, she uttered one sentence that really struck me. I will try to quote: “Find out where your heart lies and go from there.” These words triggered a thinking process in me. Find out where my heart lies?! A mission that seems way more complicated for some people than it is for others. From what I understand she has been here for almost 10 years and is working in the interior design business. She has always known that she was going to embrace the creative path career-wise, as she recalls a story of her teenage years in which she tore her parent’s bathroom apart and tried to remodel a new one in accordance to her ideas. When she came to New York, she was lucky to start off in an interior design firm right away. She now owns her own business, which had its down times, of course, but now she is even able to re-employ a few workers on her own. I consider this a great life story but for me it is just too good to be true.

I read an interesting article just yesterday about choosing your career path and finding out what to do. You can check it out here. To summarize its main gist, the author proposes that, albeit it might sound great to do what you “love,” for most people it is just not doable and not healthy to choose this as an ideal career path. She suggests to rather follow what you are “good at” and find a job in accordance to this. It is an excellent piece of writing that brings us closer to the reason of why young adults in their early twenties undergo life crises and even depression because of the self-fulfilling ideal they are trying to chase. Our society is geared towards the idea that everything is possible nowadays and that achieving one’s dream is finally doable. What it doesn’t necessarily take into account, though, is that most people in their early twens are utterly confused of what exactly they want to do with their lives, how they want to use their potential, and what in detail they are good at.

I’ve met so many young people who have tried to evade their strict lives by shouldering their backpacks and traveling the world. Who would rather give up the jobs they had until then and take a break of pursuing whatever career they had “chosen “ in order to explore other cultures, different mentalities, and various continents.

You think burn-out syndrome only happens in fast-paced industries? You’re wrong! It can happen in every job and the people who are mostly affected are not only people in their late 30ies, but also a fair amount of persons at a younger age. I will restate: People who feel burned out are also younger than 35. How weird, you might think, what is there exactly to be burned out at when you are young and have a promising future to look ahead to? It’s the pressure some individuals impose on themselves (or think others impose on them) for pursuing something that is not in accordance with who they are but rather who they’d like to be and how they’d like to be seen by their peers.

Life is not about a career. Life is about everything else. It is about exploring where your strengths lie, redefining yourself, and meeting many exciting people along your way. It is about knowing when you want in and when you want out. When I graduated from college I felt split: I had the feeling that many of my fellow students knew exactly that they wanted to become a therapist, a business manager, or a lawyer. I, however, didn’t know what exactly to do with the potential at my hands and decided to give travelling and readjusting to another world a shot. I haven’t regretted moving to New York ever since.

Then, when I came here, I was all into meeting creative people and being inspired by their vibes. To artists, the entire world revolves around self-fulfillment and doing only what you love. It was a different outlook from what I was used to and it was equally attractive. But I came to see that singers and drawers have struggled to “make it here,” that some would rather perform on the streets than utilizing their school degree to get a job that will pay the bills.

Don’t get me wrong. You ought to pursue your dreams. You ought to do what you love. And a job that is just a waste of your time is about as frustrating as not working at all. But does it really have to be your “dream” job that will fulfill you in its entirety? Or will it be rather your hobby that will impact your world as well as other people’s world, and make you feel good about yourself?