While the idea of pursuing passion versus a safety net is one that’s stuck around long enough for our parents to tell us about their parents’ struggles, it’s never been more real than right now, when anybody with an Internet connection has a means of communicating their own opinions on the matter.
A lot of us have grown up with parents that constantly worry about how our futures will turn out (sometimes they worry even more than we do), and probably for good reason. There’s no need to turn towards the global economy to see that we are in an ever-shifting time where jobs seem to come and go at the drop of a hat, and the longevity of one’s career is no longer solely dependent on the fact that they actually have a job, unlike how it was during our grandparents’ era when things were a little simpler. Back then, you might not have been able to call yourself a writer, actor or director, hunched over a laptop in an LA coffee shop on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon.
In the twenty-odd years of my life, I probably changed my dream job no less than six times. Teachers and other well-meaning adults would ask about my ambition, and it would have differed, depending on what I was currently interested it at the time and how far ahead I was really thinking. I’m not sure I knew how much I would suck at science when three-year-old me decided I was going to become a veterinarian. And the last time I decided to change my path for my future career-wise was less than three months ago.
Which begs the question: how are we, as fickle-minded as we are, supposed to follow our dreams when those are as ephemeral as dust in the wind? Yet, the thought of doing the same thing for thirty over years is not one many would cherish, myself included. Can satisfaction and contentment really come from learning to love what you do, instead of loving what you do and making a living off of it? Do I stick with a reasonably sized paycheck and travel three times a year to escape the stifling work environment that comes along with that money, or do I wake up, loving what I do every day, but constantly worry about bills, bills, bills?
These questions plague the minds of the millennial today because for one, narcissism has entrenched itself in all areas of our social life and we don’t want to just feel good, we want to look good while doing something that’ll attract the envy of everyone else. Some of us are guilty of taking flatlay photos at our office supplies on our desk and taking three hours to edit and choose a filter, instead of actually trying to find a solution for a client’s absurd demands. Some of us really enjoy being able to create with our hands, but it’s a constant struggle between having the best, shiniest tools to do so and figuring out if eating ramen for three straight weeks in a row will really shave off five years off your life.
But more than just an Instagram feed with aesthetics to rival Planet Earth’s videography, it’s the overwhelming need for millennials to be truly satisfied and be proud of what they’re doing and putting out in the world. This idea doesn’t just pertain to those in the arts; innovation is key in any industry and consumers are a lot more savvy than they were a decade ago. And to be able to create their best work, they need to feel motivated, not just passionate. I’m passionate about reading, but I can barely remember the last time I picked up a book for fun. Motivation is perhaps one of the most key factors in ensuring that one doesn’t get trapped in the destructive cycle of either job-hopping, or feeling like you’re chained to your office desk until you retire from your job, thirty years from now. Motivation can come from your internal emotions: spurred by your passion and captivated by your interest, or it can come from external forces: the need to support your family, rent to pay and maybe even a holiday to fund.
Admittedly, not everyone will be able to have the best of both worlds: there’s a reason why majority of us aren’t celebrities. However, it’s definitely possible to strike a good balance between the spectrum of passion and responsibility, but that’s a fight you should only be willing to take on when you understand how bitter that fight can turn out to be. Although, if you’re remotely serious about your future, you’ve probably figured that out already.