These days, it seems like we’re increasingly bombarded with TedTalks, self-help books, and inspirational quotes that urge us to find happiness by turning our passions into careers. You’ll never feel like you’re truly working, and you’ll be driven to push your career forward, right?
Teaching, especially teaching elementary ESL, has certainly never been a passion of mine. It’s even less so now that I’ve done it for a year. I don’t particularly love my work, but I don’t hate it. I even enjoy it, most of the time. I put the effort in and do a good job, but I’m not exactly fulfilled by my work in the sense that it’s not what I always dreamed of doing.
Yet, I feel incredibly fulfilled in life.
My passions–writing, cooking, community development, and growing–are not exactly accessible as careers at this point. Sure, I could drop everything and invest my time into one of these passions as a career, but that would mean giving up my income and stability, the very factors that make it possible for me to pursue all of these in my own time.
Not to mention the fact that if I, for example, gave up my teaching job to pursue writing full time, I would have to dedicate all my time to writing to have any hope of making a livable income, which even at that point, would be dubious. I would have to give up time I spend on other things I love, like climbing, hiking, cooking, and travelling.
It’s incredibly liberating to be able to leave work at work. Not once in the past year have I spent any time working outside of school hours, and yet I’ve been successful in my job. I’m far less stressed than I’ve ever been, which is pretty sad considering I’m only in my early twenties.
When I followed my passions throughout university, I tied my entire identity to what I was doing. I studied and researched community development, and it was an incredibly enriching experience. But investing all of my time into it left me exhausted, anxious, and even depressed.
The pressure to succeed in a career of passion just seems so much more daunting than succeeding in another career choice. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about doing my job well. It just means that I don’t have any pressure to do my job and enjoy it. Because even if you do a job you love, you’re probably not going to enjoy it 100% of the time.
People have been able to find happiness for years without working in a job they are innately passionate about. Many of them even grew to become passionate about things that started out mundane.
Perhaps this means I’ve given up a little bit. Maybe I’m not as “driven” as I used to be when all of my energies went into studying, working, and connecting with people so I could pursue my passion of community development. It took a lot of reflection and fighting with myself to accept that I simply don’t want to continue that intensive lifestyle that defined me in university.
Sure, one day I’d love to make a career out of one of my many passions. If I could profit off of writing or travelling, I would do it in a heartbeat. But at this point, it just doesn’t seem quite possible, and I’m not willing to give up all the other things in my life to do that. For now, I’m much happier feeling fulfilled in my life where I make a comfortable income, have plenty of time to travel, can explore a variety of different passions, and can still find time to relax at the end of the day.