“Remember to follow your dreams, but also bring along your brain.”
Those words were written in my mom’s familiar, loopy, half-cursive scrawl on a card I received for my 18th birthday. Too often, I think people only receive the first half of that message. Throughout life we’re taught to be creative and unique and to do what we’re passionate about. This is all fine and good but I do think it’s worth reminding everyone that you also need to pay the bills. I doubt your landlord will accept the lyrics to your someday hit single in lieu of rent payment.
The secret to happiness is not simply to do what you love but rather to align your passion with the lifestyle that you want. If you want to be a renowned artist but your talents haven’t yet been discovered and you can’t bear the thought of being broke, then I recommend finding another way to pursue your passion for the time being. I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t chase your dreams to their fullest potential, to the ends of the Earth even. Quite the opposite.
Your livelihood and your future do not need to ride solely on this beautiful passion of yours. People tend to assume that ‘passion’ and ‘career’ are synonymous. They’re not. If you put too much pressure on your dreams, you may soon find yourself thoroughly disenchanted with them and hunting for a new one. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before diving into the abyss of discarded dreams.
- What do I love to do?
- How do I want to live?
- Does one support the other?
If the answer to the last question is no, don’t panic. It’s more common than you think. This is not a godly sign from the universe that you aren’t meant to do whatever it is you love to do. It just means there’s a little more work required to make it happen. This is where many people lose faith and interest. They encounter this roadblock, give up and go home rather than find a detour. So what if you have to take the scenic route? The journey is half the fun anyway. And I guarantee you’ll learn more about what you’re capable of after overcoming a few obstacles. Here are some follow up questions you might want to consider.
- What am I good at that I enjoy doing?
- Does this allow time/energy/resources for the pursuit of the thing I love to do?
It’s important to note that you are never stuck. What you do right out of school doesn’t have to be what you do for the rest of your life. But maybe it’s the first step toward that goal that you’ve been holding onto for years. By all means, follow your dreams. Let them take you to places you’ve never been and never thought you’d be. Just don’t forget to bring your brain.