Do What You Love, but Not Really... My thoughts of late have been focused a lot on desire. My main gripe with desire is how we talk about it our whole lives, and then we directly do things that contradict those desires. How many can conjure up this memory:
You're a wide-eyed child. There's something wistful about everything in the world. You're curious and you don't know enough about how the "world works" to not see the world for what it is: unbridled beauty. The world, the whole of it, is good.
So, someone asks you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
And your mind, whether you know it or not, moves to the thing (or things) you love most. You say, "astronaut" or "archeologist", "singer," "poet," "president."
Don't you see the beauty in that? Children—human beings—automatically vie for something they love. Something that fascinates them, that captures their attention. Children understand better than anyone else to never ignore that fiery feeling in your chest when something excites you. When you're passionate about something. When did we lose that?
The Death of Desire
Practicality became the death of our desires. At some point, we're all told to be "practical" and "realistic." Somehow we equate that with giving up on what you love and focusing all of your energy on finding a profitable career. I'm not saying money isn't important, it is. It's hard to do much of anything in today's world without some amount of money and the people who are struggling to make ends meet know how important it is; but there's something to be said for following your dreams, as cliché as it sounds. What happened to passion? What happened to wanting something so bad you work your ass off and do just about anything to make it a reality?
I'm a firm believer that belief leads to action which leads to reality. If people followed through on their passions, if they ignored the pressures of our modern consumerist society and actually worked for what they wanted, we'd live in a very different world. I guess you could call my thinking pretty idealistic, utopian even. Of course everyone would love to follow their dreams, but we just don't live in that kind of a world.
I think that's a cop-out. I believe we're more powerful than we think we are. There's a certain paradigm shift that happened in my mind about a year ago and it goes something like this: I was stressing about my next semester in school because what I wanted and what I felt like I should do were conflicting. I wanted to be a writer, I have since I was thirteen. But my whole life I was always told to go to college for something practical because if you don't, you'll end up a starving artist with nothing going for him. I believed this lie for years. I struggled with self-worth and self-esteem because at every turn it seemed like what I wanted to do with my life had zero social utility, i.e. it wasn't profitable.
Then, I thought of a simple phrase that changed my life. I have a choice. Think about that for a second. It was the purest thought I've had to this day. I realized that I could literally dictate the course of my life. I could cast aside the prejudice and expectations of others and do what I wanted to do with my life. So, I dropped out of school. I made a website. I wrote a book.
And you know, from society's perspective, I haven't done much with my life. I don't make money from my writing yet, I'm not published, but I take value in the little ways my life has changed. I'm comfortable with myself and my decisions. I'm happy to be doing what I love everyday even if I struggle financially. I'm okay with the struggle because there's never a question in my mind if I'll make it, it's when. And I work everyday with this goal in mind and I fully believe it will become a reality for me. And if it doesn't, well, I'm still a hell-of-a-lot happier struggling to do something I love than to be making plenty of money doing something I hate.
Just Do You!
In the end, I want to see more people doing what they love. What they really love. If you really want to be a doctor or a stock broker on Wall Street, then go for it! As long as you're passionate about those things. But if there's something in your life that makes you unspeakably happy, something that you love so much you would do it your whole life anyway, then DO IT. To hell with everyone who tells you you're not gonna make it or it's not a smart move because at the end of the day, it's your life. And YOU have to be satisfied with it. No one else.