“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
How many times do we ask kids that question? (Not looking for an actual number here…let’s just all agree that we ask it a lot.) When I was in elementary school, I had a lot of answers to that question; they switched around depending on my mood and what was popular with my friends. Typically I switched between 3 answers: a veterinarian (I’m kind of obsessed with dogs), a singer (I never shut up), or an actress (I’m dramatic).
Obviously as I grew older, I decided to open my horizons up to just a few more options. I realized my love for music, and so I started to envision a life with some sort of musical career. After all, I held tightly to concepts like “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I felt the pressure to not only pursue something that would provide a viable financial income, but to make sure that I felt passionate about it at the same time. (I think my generation especially uses the word “passion” in terms of a career like it’s going out of style.)
So, here’s my dilemma. What if you DON’T feel passionate about your job? What if you wake up, not
unhappy with your life, but don’t necessarily feel like your day’s agenda will change the world? Is that
necessarily a bad thing, or should you feel guilty for not doing more?
Here are my thoughts. It’s a great thought that every person can find a career they’re
pumped about. But, LOGISTICALLY speaking, the majority of available jobs out there are necessary, if not
tedious, but they’re FAR from glamorous. I think it’s safe to say that when kids are asked about their dream job, positions like “insurance agent” or “data entry specialist” aren’t the first ones to come to mind. But we need those jobs fulfilled just as much as the glamorous-looking careers plastered all over our social media walls. Am I to believe that the people in so-called “ordinary” jobs are less special, or have missed their “calling” in some way?
I don’t buy it. Call me crazy, but I don’t think every person has to find a job that will make them wanna jump out of bed in the morning and run off to work. If that’s the case, then 90% of the world missed the boat on that one. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing when someone’s passion is able to support them and become their full-time career. What I don’t think is that the perfect job is the sole answer to finding purpose. I also don’t think the idea of purpose is the same for everyone. Some people feel they were born with a unique skill set that led them to fulfill a specific goal or achievement, like to make a medical discovery or to win an olympic medal (those are some lofty examples, but you get the idea).
Personally, I have compulsive tendencies but also enjoy a lot of different things, so the idea of having a specific life purpose is rather daunting. I tend to throw myself 100% into whatever I’m doing in a given moment, but I don’t feel like I was created and called to fulfill one crucial destiny (I’m no Frodo…sorry, Lord of the Rings joke. I’m a nerd.)
So, for people like me, what is purpose? What does it look like, and how do I find it? Honestly, heck if I know. The more I experience life, the less I feel I know and understand how the world works. The only conclusion that I can confidently come to is that PEOPLE are the most important thing. Jobs and money don’t equal happiness, and if I’m relying on accomplishments alone to make me feel fulfilled, I’m going to come up empty most of the time.
In that case, I guess the best thing to do is focus on the small, daily decisions that in turn affect how I interact with people. For instance, instead of stressing about if I’m in the right career path or losing sleep over the fact that my job isn’t singlehandedly fixing world hunger, maybe I focus on loving the coworker who sits next to me at work. Maybe it means I’m not always looking for the next best thing that will make me money and bring me happiness, but that I just allow myself to be fully present in whatever moment and environment I’m in. In my opinion, if I’m focusing on being the best version of myself in the small, seemingly insignificant decisions, that will eventually pour over into the big stuff. I won’t have to worry about if I’m on track to uncover my life purpose, because it doesn’t really matter where I end up, as long as I loved people well in the process.
That’s all I got. What can I say, I’m only 25 - I’m still learning.