By STEPHANIE LING
We have always liked to think of ourselves as progressive, be it in terms of healthcare, education or even technology. But if I were to ask you to reflect on that statement about your own life, does the statement of “progressiveness” apply?
Brainwashing vs blackmail
I remember back in secondary school when my peers would discuss prospective career options such as the traditional professions i.e. doctors, lawyers and accountants. Even then it seemed as though they had decided on what their passion was and what their career paths would be.
I, on the other hand, was pretty much clueless as to what I wanted to pursue. I knew what I did not want to delve into and worked on finding my passion from there.
While they would be immersed in their discussions, my mind would stray to wonder if it was really their passion to pursue such careers or was it due to the influence by family members and educators.
This is in no way implying that my peers were brainwashed. Some of them really did seem to be passionate about saving lives and making a difference.
I applaud them for their bravery to take on such fields. In fact, quite a few of them have graduated to become medical health professionals and are content with their careers.
The working dead
Nevertheless, I still wonder about the rest who hated their jobs because they never had an interest in it but are staying on to please their parents or to make ends meet. Sadly, these guys have entered the working dead force.
I have always wondered how differently these individuals’ career paths would have been if they had chosen to pursue something they were ardent about rather than blindly following the leader. If we were as “progressive” as we thought we were, being a makeup artist or YouTuber should not get you jeering looks.
Over the years, many youths have started to involve themselves in unconventional careers such as blog shops, start-ups and even social media influencers and seeing as how it does bring in the dough, it has dealt with fewer backlashes from society.
It is no easy feat stepping into the working world, what more when it is to pursue a passion or interest that has no clear path as to what is meant to transpire in the years to come.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” —Confucius.
Upon introspection into my own life, I have realised that I have been fortunate enough to work in a company that allows me to make a difference in the lives of the people I meet.
In working with youths, I have also realised my passion for developing and growing people.
Friends would often bemoan me enjoying my work so much that it no longer seemed like work, but why is that bad? I have been enabled to give more of myself and my best. My self-discovery is why I will always advocate pursuing one’s interest to every youth I meet.
I tell them that it will not be an easy path but if it is worth fighting for and that it gives you meaning and satisfaction, why not?
Fortunately, my parents were never one to confine me to a traditional career path. They granted me the freedom to do what I liked and that is probably why I am the only one in my group of friends to do Psychology and I don’t even feel bad about it.
How then can we encourage youths and adults alike to pursue passion in their lives, be it on a full-time or part-time basis?
1. Choose to own
You need to make the choice to take on the task no matter how difficult and impossible it seems. In making that choice, you have already set yourself up for progress and, eventually, success.
This conscious effort of saying yes to the challenge then translates to other aspects of your life be it in terms of getting your taxes done or even to replace that fused light bulb in the spare room of your house.
This carries on in helping you overcome the deflators in your lives be it in the form of people discouraging you or processes that are in the way.
You, then, get the chance to decide on the personal qualities you want to hold onto. You may not see the immediate effect but in the long run, this bears fruit to your personal growth and resilience.
2. With a will, there is always a way
It is one thing to share your passion with the world, it is another thing to exert effort in light of your passion. I say that I am passionate about baking but I wake up saying that I’m lazy; that I will not get that lemon custard right and that I will not nail that brownie mix.
This act of whining will amount to crushing levels of morale sooner or later—leading to a burnout. This is where willpower needs to kick in and take a front seat. You will need to tell yourself to push through each seemingly pointless or difficult task to make something out of it.
Each of these tasks becomes a mini achievement that will eventually snowball to become bigger successes.
To train for this, you would have to choose something you do not want to do each day and just do it. You are in for the long run and this is just one mile in your marathon so take it in stride and keep driving that willpower wagon forward.
Ultimately, you are free to decide what you want to chase in life, as youths and as adults. If you feel strongly in an aspect of your life, don’t let society shun you away just yet.
Instead, find ways to incorporate these areas of passion into your life and careers and you will notice that life becomes a lot more gratifying.
It does not mean that you should not have traditional careers; rather, you can do anything you like as long as you have a vested interest in it as that differentiates a satisfying life from a purposeless life.
Stephanie is currently pursuing her masters of organisational psychology at the University of Sheffield. Being a firm believer in a person’s potential, she hopes to help others use that potential to make a difference in their own lives.