Every child has something they want to be when they grow up: a doctor, a lawyer, a ballerina, firefighter, or police officer. Or maybe a mermaid or astronaut or to live in a novel world.
Often we wave these dreams off as nonsense that just aren’t possible or assume that they will change their mind at some point. We even expect college students to change their major a few times because teenagers usually don’t know what they want to do with their lives yet.
Those same teenagers often push themselves into a field where they will achieve social success, careers where they will make a lot of money or achieve fame or local respect. Some of these are the same as those childhood dreams we laughed at: doctor, lawyer, firefighter, police officer, or actor/actress.
But what we have to realize is that success or respect often follow personal happiness. We all want to be around happy people and we respect those with the drive to follow their dreams. But those who are following their dreams will not be happy if their dream is not also their passion.
We can lie to ourselves about what our dreams are. We can tell ourselves that a certain career or life change will bring happiness to our lives. But we can’t lie to ourselves about our passions. There are just some things in life that you can’t deny yourself.
Sometimes that’s a person, sometimes a hobby, and sometimes it’s a career. We spend our whole lives trying to figure out what will keep us happy and are never sure what we did wrong.
What we usually do wrong is confuse our dreams with our passions. We think that those childhood dreams will be all we need in life, when in reality, our dreams change. Just as a college freshman will probably change their major. Instead of clinging to what we wanted as kids, we have to figure out what we’re passionate about as adults.
We do so much growing and changing throughout our lives that it’s easy to forget that our passions change too. Children love having fun or bright colors and all sorts of things that make them happy in the moment. But adults are happier when they know they have things like financial security or a decent place to live. We forget to allow ourselves the simple joys in life.
I firmly believe that any person could go to medical school if they worked hard enough, but not everybody should. You shouldn’t give up your passions or let something become a huge part of your life simply for financial security. You may need a day job to help fund your passion, but letting yourself forget to enjoy life is a process.
Being a successful person is so much more than a good job or a decent house. It’s letting yourself be yourself, being pleased with who you are as a person. Anybody that begins a career math such as medicine or law or to become a professional athlete is embarking on a path that is going to take on a ridiculously huge part of your life. Not being passionate about that path will cause discontent with your life that you can’t necessarily define.
The best doctors, lawyers, and athletes have become such because they’re passionate about their careers. That passion pushes them through the rough moments, the days when they feel like failure is imminent, the times when we can’t change or prevent something terrible.
Passion is what drives you to succeed in your field, passion is what brings joy to your life, passion is what makes people want to be around you.
Let go of your childhood dreams and pressures society has put on you. Figure out what your adult passions are and then figure out how to include that in your life. Enjoy your work and improve the lives of everyone around you with the happiness it brings you.