Should I do what I love? For some, the answer is easy: Yes. Software engineering is not only their passion but will most likely land them a high-paying job.
For others, their passion is not as immediately likely to be profitable: Acting, music or teaching. And furthermore, there are financial responsibilities that make following one’s true passion difficult; starting a family, paying off loans or even just paying rent.
In a New York Times article, Gordon Marino, a philosophy professor from St. Olaf College, contends that achieving a sense of meaning through one’s work does not necessarily involve following a path of self-satisfaction.
He writes, “The universally recognised paragons of humanity, the Nelson Mandelas, Dietrich Bonhoeffers and Martin Luther Kings, did not organise their lives around self-fulfillment and bucket lists. They, no doubt, found a sense of meaning in their heroic acts of self-sacrifice, but they did not do what they were doing in order to achieve that sense of meaning. They did what they felt they had to do.”
As millennials, we have heard it a thousand times: The job market is tough, especially for us. Having a full-time job out of school is almost as unlikely as it is likely. So what can we do? Should we suck it up and find work in a more stable but less interesting field? Should we be baristas until 40 years old when we finally have a breakthrough and we can pursue our passion full-time? Live in mom’s basement?
First and foremost, and to borrow Marino’s words, you have to do what you have to do. If sticking it out in a less-than-desirable job means putting food on the table, you do that.
The term starving artist is, in the context it is most commonly used, hyperbole. Nourishment trumps the pursuit of art any day. Both are important. But first; food. But the issue of whether millennials should pursue their passion or find a stable job remains. However, maybe the two are not as contradictory as they are believed to be.
Passion drives success, it comes down to how bad you want something. If you need to find a boring, stable job to survive, make your passions your hobby. If your stable job is ruining your life, commit to living more simply so you can pursue your passions full-time.
Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Perhaps the third is the day you land the job of your dreams.
Adapted from monster.com