We have been fed with the idea that we must pursue our passions; follow our dreams no matter what. “Never give up, as all matters of the heart you’ll get it. It takes time.” This is the typical piece of advice we are now used to hear from friends, relatives and professional advisers.
Last night I was watching online a public talk held by Dr John DeMartini who is considered one of the world’s leading authorities in human behaviour and personal development. He was encouraging young people to boost their potentials and reach success by writing goals down and then reading them every day. There is a law in nature, known as Law of Attraction, which says you must truly concentrate on what’s really most meaningful to you and work towards that, you increase the probability of seeing opportunities and get what you want. A massive jolt of inspiration, no doubt.
Although I admire people who share their knowledge and inspire people to do better, I don’t think it is necessary to spend over $2000 for a seminar and be told you must focus and work your ass off in order to reach your dream job. It is simply common sense.
The point is: what if after having tried hard your ideal career does not seem to take off? What are we supposed to do when this reassuring buzz wears off and you get to a certain age and you beginning to think what you want to gain, it is actually not what you are meant to do in life?
The pressure we feel to find a perfect career is insane. In order to avoid a quarter life crisis and being alienated by the society, people are trying to find it before hitting their thirties. The pressure is enough to push people over the edge and make them fall into a depression.
I just turned thirty and I do feel the pressure. When I was little I was dreaming to become a ballerina. I loved the idea to wear a tutu and dancing in front of an audience. I was actually pretty good at it. When I was teenager I injured my back so I was forced to quit for a few years. When I finally got back to my training at the age of 19 the teacher told me that I had to catch up by attending a class where all the other students were eleven. Wearing ballet shoes was giving me back pain, so I turned my sight to different dance genres: salsa, hip pop and jazz. When it was time to go to university my parents made me think that my dream was not going to pay neither bills nor rent.
I’m not the only one. My housemate wanted to be a Journalist, but she was living on the odd day of paid work. “I could not make a living out of it”, says my friend Giulia. “None of us love just one thing. I studied literature at University, I’ve always liked books. I’ve recently moved to New York to do an internship for a Literature Agency. At the beginning of my work experience I didn’t get paid, now the money is OK, but I never looked back again.”
I suppose this is the trade-off: you set your goals and make sacrifices because you are aware that one day all your efforts will pay off. We live in a society that encapsulates the idea if you just believe in something enough, any dream is within reach. Anything less is a failure? Isn’t it time that we are as realistic with ourselves?
Every time I feel discouraged in reaching my ideal job, I think of my best friend Angela. Angela is a young and determinate woman who had worked hard her whole life in order to get that perfect career and a perfect man. She got both. She was working in a bank and earned good money which had given her that kind of life that makes the rest of us feel like we are missing the point of what jobs are actually for. She had a house and by her side a charming and caring man who was going to marry her. She had everything a woman wishes for, but she was unhappy. At the age of 35 she decided it wasn’t too late to screw her life up and start all over again. She moved to London and rented a room and got a job as a tequila girl in a salsa bar because she cared about her life more than her career, she loved sex more than the idea to walk down the aisle.
Since we were kids we get taught that there is only a right path to follow in life: finish your studies. Get your ideal job. Find a man who loves you (which is even harder than finding a career that you love). Have children. Live happily ever after.
Life is not a straight line. There’s a different path each of us has to go through in order to get what you want and getting lost during this journey can help you find yourself. We have to accept that it’s not always about succeeding, winning or fulfilling somebody else’s dreams.
You have to ask yourself: Is this the kind of life I want for myself? If the answer to this question is no, well as long you have tried with all your might then it is probably time to give something up. As my friend Giulia was saying, none of us like doing just one thing.
There’s no denying that your career is a big deal and in life if you have ambitions, as American people would say, you have to give it a shot! But now our attitude to our passions is summed up by the concept that you own it to yourself to do what you dream of and if you give it up it’s like a failure.
I personally still dance. I do it for sheer pleasure. I also like writing and I’ll write whether someone pays me to or not. After all, focusing all your energies on chasing that one ideal job which doesn’t come along blinds you to new things that could actually improve and enrich your life.