“What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I bet you have been asked this question multiple times during your school years and even before you entered school. I am also sure the answer has changed quite frequently or at least a couple of times. For me, it has been from singer to teacher and finally to a journalist. I was around thirteen years old when I decided that I wanted to be a journalist and I guess it was around that time that some of my friends also decided what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives, while others simply didn’t know.
From a young age, we are constantly being prepared to enter the job market and to be a contributing part of society. We must choose between a dream and practicality when they don’t coincide. While some have the privilege to choose a path purely because they love it, others do have to put passion aside to think about opportunities and money. Even though I’ve been a huge advocate for people to study what they like, I am done romanticizing this. No, it isn’t completely true that if you’re the best at what you do you’ll get a big break. There are so many factors that impact whether you succeed or not, from socioeconomic conditions to geographical conditions, or if you have a great number of followers on social media, for instance. And then, if you find a job opportunity in the field you like, most likely it will not fulfill the necessary criteria for it to be a dream job. After seeing the struggles some friends have had and still have to find a decent job, I realize that the idea of a dream job is totally overrated.
Why do we have to take the things we are good and passionate about and try to turn them into something profitable?
Let’s be real for a second. Not every person that studies Law will be Annelise Keating (lawyer from How to Get Away with Murder), and that is completely fine. However, I think it is important to change the narrative and adapt our expectations. We do need money to survive in this world. Additionally, it wouldn’t be bad to have working conditions that allow us to have a good balance between our work life and personal life, that allow us to breathe and gives us reassurance and rights when we go through a rough period. If we are fairly compensated for the hours of our day, given benefits that are useful for us, and have a working environment that respects that a person is not a robot, are these enough to trade from passion to practical when they are not the same? I believe they are. This is a matter of opinion, of course, but I don’t think doing what I love under precarious conditions is a dream at all.
For once, I have to put mental health and stability first and rethink the narrative I’ve been told. The job we do is not who we are. And it is a myth to think that we have only one vocation or one thing we are good at. It has all been conditioned by our surroundings, and most things can still be learned. On top of that, the importance we attribute to our job and the place it has in our lives are mere constructions of capitalism so that we feel happy within the system. I work to be able to live, not the other way around.
While I think it is great that from such a young age I knew what I wanted out of my career, I also envy my friends that were not so sure and choose safe paths. As for me, they are the ones living the overrated dream, as they land good and fair opportunities that allow them peace of mind and balanced life. Yes, maybe they are not passionate about what they are doing, but I do believe that, in comparison to other factors, passion is overrated, and it is rare to find a dream job that ticks all the boxes. And, to be honest, we should not strive for that as it is not realistic. We all have different priorities regarding what we want from a job, be that flexible hours and location, a high salary, stimulating tasks, and so on. But, most times, they are not all fulfilled, and it is okay as long as we keep the idea of a dream job away from our minds or at least restructure it. We should keep fighting for something better but always be aware of the reality that surrounds us and not the reality we would like that existed. It is never too late to change paths nor is it shameful.
A job will always be only a third of our days (hopefully). What we do with the remaining time should be things that make us happy and fulfilled. Finally, I believe that if we let go of the ideas of dreams and vocations, we can actually strive at whatever we might do, as long as there is a respectful environment and good people working with us.