What Happens When You Hate Your Dream Job?
When I was a child I was fortunate to have people in my life that told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. That if I just put my mind to it (however elusive and nebulous “it” may be), and worked hard enough, I could be “it.” Sure, there would be some hardships along the way, but with a little perseverance, I was sure to overcome and reach the mountaintop of success. What these well wishers failed to tell me is that sometimes the biggest obstacle to becoming what you want to be is in fact trying to figure out what it is you want to be.
Unfortunately, I did not realize this until adulthood. You see, I decided in elementary school that I wanted to be a lawyer after watching an episode of Matlock. I know! I know! Matlock is NOTHING like being a real lawyer. But I wanted to vindicate the falsely accused and bring justice to the true criminal just like Matlock. So enthralled by Matlock, I even named my dog after him! Since being a lawyer is seen as a lofty profession in society, I received nothing but encouragement from adults and peers alike. I was so committed to this goal, that even when I began to doubt it, I quickly disregarded those feelings because I felt too invested in pursuing this career path. After all, I had majored in religious studies and Africana studies; how was I going to get a job with that degree?! Furthermore, I was under the impression that successful people had lifelong passions for their careers. Being a lawyer was the only career I had been passionate about. I couldn’t change career choices now. . .or so I thought.
It occurred to me that I was not being entirely rational. While it is certainly true that some people choose a career path as a child and stick with it, I should not oblige my 30 year old self to a dream created by my elementary age self, especially if it was no longer working for me. Although releasing a dream held so long was not easy, holding on to it was even harder. When I released it, and other assumptions I carried, I discovered two truths: (1) Success occurs in a multiplicity of ways, and (2) passion transcends careers.
Success Occurs in Many Ways
I thought being successful meant having a dream for many years, working hard at it, and then achieving it. But that need not be true for everyone. We are complex beings, and what interests and motivates us today may not be the same tomorrow. If your current “success plan” does not appear to be working for you, then don’t be afraid to abandon it and go toward where your heart is compelling you. Don’t let society’s artificial life markers impede your progress either. You may not have the educational background to do what you desire; become your own tutor, and do it anyway!
Passion Transcends Careers
The idea of changing careers seemed frightening to me because I did not have the educational background, nor did I have lifelong passion for my new career. Aren’t those two necessary ingredients to success? However, I realized that the passion one needs for success is not necessarily inextricably connected to a particular career. Rather, it is a passion in an overall objective that is required. I was drawn to being a lawyer because I wanted to help those ostracized by society and protect them from injustice. There are many careers that will help me achieve this objective. By letting go of one career I’ve opened up myself to many different avenues that will allow me to achieve this goal. In other words, by letting one dream die, I was actually able to free my passion to flourish in various ways, not just one. Likewise, I hope that you allow your passions to transcend your career. If you find yourself compelled to another career, don’t be afraid; take a step of faith. That nagging feeling may just be God calling you to another place.