Pursue Your Passions

By Abbie M., Brea, CA for Teen Ink Magazine

Image credit: Missouri State University

Someone once told me, “You’re wasting your time on a career that will only lead to starvation.”

Ouch, right? But before I go on, let me give you some background on the career in question.

I want to be a journalist for a newspaper or magazine. After years of exploring my interests, this is what I have decided on. But I’m still affected by what others say, which led me to consider the other side of the argument.

As technology continues to advance with unbelievable speed, print publications are steadily being replaced by websites that update their content practically every time you refresh the browser. Even on my own campus, few seem to care about newspapers anymore; sections of the school paper lie in puddles, and muddy shoe prints soil the pages that took the editors weeks to complete.

More disturbingly, the country is in the midst of an economic downturn, which is leaving people in a perpetual state of uncertainty. And by the time my generation graduates from college, we will be part of a workforce that is highly competitive and incredibly unstable.

But I stand firm in my decision to be a writer. Why? For the idealistic, simple, yet powerful reason that it makes me happy in a way that no amount of money ever could.

Rarely have I found others who think this way, and it always disheartens me to hear students trying to map out their lives based on factors other than pursuing their passions.

Factor number one: parents.

Parents definitely have a right to be involved in their children’s lives, but sometimes their words create more stress than encouragement. Instead of trying to make their children happy, as they may have intended, parents can end up squeezing their children’s hopes and desires until nothing remains but the hard, coarse seeds of a cruel reality. True, being realistic is important, but everyone needs the chance to dream in order to find happiness, and parents should understand this.

Factor number two: money.

A conversation I had with my college friend one afternoon illustrates this point.

“What happened?” I asked after hearing he had switched majors. “I thought you wanted to be a photographer.”

“I do,” he said. “But there’s no money in it. Don’t worry,” he added, probably sensing my concern. “I’m happy where I am.”

I really wanted to believe that, but as we continued talking, he constantly interrupted me to point out the beauty of this view and that view, saying he wished he had his camera with him. I didn’t know what to think anymore.

Naturally, there’s no way to predict where our paths will lead us. In fact, our ideas and plans could very well change down the road. However, at this stage in our lives when so many voices are telling us who we should be, we need to nurture our individual dreams, not stifle them, because they may be the only things left that define us.

Of course, listen to your parents and consider the financial implications of your choices. But keep in mind, too, that you, and no one else, will ultimately have to live with the results of your decisions.

And who knows – maybe that person is right, and I will starve because of my choice to major in journalism. But after witnessing the unhappiness of those who didn’t pursue their passion, I am convinced that the worst suffering of all is to not allow yourself to do what you truly love.

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