I read somewhere in my Junior year of college that the best way to consider a life path is to think back to your childhood and remember the things that you enjoyed doing as a child. Apparently we had all of the answers to life as children, and we just never knew it.
Conveniently I don’t remember where I got this advice, but I’ve been giving it to all of my friends these days. One of my best friends, Kevin*, has been stuck in a rut these days career-wise. So I’ve taken to persuading him to channel his inner child and find what his purpose is in life.
When I first read this unknown article back in college, I remember trying to understand what it all meant. I was three years deep into a college degree and suddenly realizing that it just wasn’t for me. The fear that I would end up pursuing a career that I secretly loathed scared me into asking everyone around me for advice. The scarier part was when people around me started telling me, without my asking, that I probably wasn’t meant to pursue the degree that I had been and should reconsider.
I remember feeling lost, and so confused that I started desperately googling for information. Then I stumbled on the article that basically told me to stop freaking out and just take a minute to think about where I’ve been because passions make the best careers.
Naturally I panicked even more because if you’re someone like me, your childhood dream was that you would become a professional ice skater and being a nonathletic adult who lacks any sort of poise, rhythm or grace, you realize that dream is bullshit.
But passions are different than dreams.
A dream is often something you want, but lack the discipline, ability, or means to obtain. Most people sit around and wish on stars, magic, boards and prayers for dreams to happen. We are taught at a young age that dreams and images come true if you believe in them; the brain is a powerful thing and we can create dreams by believing.
I’ve been learning about dreams aka change, and the verdict is that believing is only the first step to making something happen. Without a plan or action, you’re just someone waiting for fate to help put you in the right place at the right time. So cross your fingers hope to die, pray that the vision board genies unite, and beg to every god known to man that it all comes true.
Kevin believes that success is mostly driven by luck, but I believe success is mostly driven by the amount of work that you put into obtaining it. There are very few people who can simply say that they had a successful life by being in the right place at the right time or being handed things. (Maybe there are more than I’m giving credit for, but no one that I look up to or model my life after is someone who had their life and success handed to them on a silver platter).
Passion is what drives you to go above and beyond. It’s what causes you to stay up to all odd hours of the night and bend until you think you’re just about to break. Passion is moving across the country. It’s giving your all and hoping that you get something in return. Passion is what fuels people who never believed they had anything worth living for until they got a taste of one thing. It’s intense and sometimes absurd.
Once I understood that difference I knew that I never felt that way about professional iceskating… It was like letting go of a relationship that I never really believed in anyway, but only liked it because it was attractive.
What I found was that as a child, I often wanted to make people happy. I spent a lot of time trying to keep the world around me at peace, and when I couldn’t I retreated to a world of words. I would write or read the things that felt like my own. I lived at the library sometimes. I would read poetry and recite it like I had written it myself.
I was always quiet but opened up to a few people. I once believed that I could grow an olive tree with my best friend, and I convinced her that if we planted and watered an olive seed on the playground, eventually we would see olives. I had a wild imagination and was sometimes naive and aloof. Thankfully I had friends that believed in me.
I was passionate about inclusivity and hated feeling different or left out, though most of the time I was the quirky, rarity. I spent a lot of time convincing others that I was the same as them, and making sure no one felt excluded from me.
I was obsessed with video cameras and documenting life around me through them, even though my parents never brought me one. Because of this obsession, I was fascinated with television.
Somehow when I look back, this article makes sense. There are things that everyone does, believes and knows at the core of their personality when they are a child. The child you were back then made you who you are today. The point is to embrace these things and find a way to incorporate them into who you are today as an adult trying to make a living in this thing we call life.
*who’s name has been changed for the sake of protecting his identity.