Why Following Your Dream Is The Easiest Way To Ruin Your Life
Doing something you love for too long can leave you in a pickle.
Doing something you “love” for too long can leave you in even more of a pickle.
I won’t go too deep into my life story, but I just need to first say that sometimes we are so driven to find our dream job that we convince ourselves we have. Guided by our families, mentors, friends, and social media followers’ watchful eyes, we do a whole lot to ensure that we are not perceived as failures. We had clear intentions. We had clear dreams. And we were successful.
The truth of the matter is dreams change.
Dreams are made up of references from experienced life. They mold, change, and evolve based on your day. Your large “life” dream, I think, evolves in the same way. There will always be bits and pieces of your life intertwined, but dreams absolutely can (and should) evolve. If they don’t, how do you mark your growth as a human?
With all of this being said, I changed course in my life.
It was risky, scary, exciting, and ultimately overwhelming, but I hate to say that a large part of those emotions were driven by my perception of other’s judgment.
How people would make up their minds about me and my decision that I had just spent the better part of a full year making. A decision that began with questioning how everyone else (and, therefore, I) categorized myself. Did I choose these labels? Did I accidentally fall into this job? Did someone just say that I was good at something and then I ran with it? If I don’t try something new, am I missing out on a larger potential?
So here’s how it went down:
College, graduation, move to New York, landed a steady job (excited), grew in said job (okay), grew stagnant in the job (not so excited), decided a change was needed, set a date to leave the job.
Beyond this, I didn’t have much of a plan.
I decided to take two months to travel, something that I hadn’t done much of despite my keen interest in people and culture.
The plan was (against my better judgment) to return with a fresh slate and start new when I returned. I started out with zero expectations other than craving something that would wake me up from the labeled coma I had somehow found myself in.
I wish I could tell you that I had some sort of sparkling, fireworks revelation while traveling; maybe a moment of realization about how I wanted to repurpose my life. But despite every Elite Daily or Thought Catalog article you read, that doesn’t always happen when you “Travel the world to find yourself.”
My revelation was much more subtle and felt as if it were plainly obvious the whole time.
The revelation (that traveling helped me find):
Your passion, dream, identity, and job are not all the same things and they do not need to be neatly categorized into one box.
My concept of the word passion had always been associated with dance; A love that had already grown and changed course for 15 years, but neatly fit into one artistic box of my life.
Dance and movement grew to be an important part of my personality, life and being. And it always will be, but as my 20-year-old self once wrote in a college theory paper, “Change is the only constant.” Little did I know, those words would ring loud and clear with a whole new, proven meaning five years later.
Just as my love for ballet morphed into a love for modern dance, I have morphed that passion into an emotion. The thrill of finishing a ballet class sweaty, heart-pumping, and standing a little taller. The feeling of improvising for a full hour only to narrow in on a single moment’s feeling of your whole body breezing through the air. The mind-tugging moment of reading a book only to look up and visually comprehend that the world is a very real place that holds beautiful people, stories, and history. The fresh taste of completely foreign cuisine prepared by a chef who has cooked with these spices for their entire life. Connecting with a simple violin solo that seems to capture a feeling so perfectly.
I am enthralled by moments that remind me of my humanity and connect me with others doing the same.
It may seem incredibly vague, but this is what I crave, this is what I love, and why my dream(s) have changed yet somehow remained in tune with the same emotion.
I truly believe that these moments are why people travel in the first place, to reconnect and to explore senses that awaken them to the world surrounding them.
I’m 26, but I fear that many people much older than I have never taken a moment to curiously explore, capture, and meditate on what it is that drives them to do what they do and love it in the process.
The post-revelation life adjustments:
Your passion, dream(s), identity, and a job should support the others (And they may be in a few fluid piles rather than boxes). Find a way to make it work. For me, this meant finding a flexible job that will allow me to take the time my personality craves to be curious: to travel, to experience, and to learn.
I’ve found new passions, taken steps to dare myself, I have started a business, and want to share my experience of being curious in different corners of the world through Life Nomading Adventures.
As an outsider looking in it may seem like a backward career move, but to me, any move in a career that you aren’t whole-hearted about is backward.