When Steve Jobs died, a paragraph of a speech he’d given to graduating students of Stanford University in 2005 was spread across the Internet relentlessly. “You’ve got to find what you love…” he told his audience. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better…” The speech as a whole is like a triple-shot espresso of motivation, and leaves you feeling incredibly inspired. But just like an addiction (be it caffeine or motivational speeches) that reassuring buzz can wear off and leaves you feeling kind of deflated. Surely Steve Jobs could figure out why he was the one standing on the stage giving the speech. That’s because people who know what they want and pursue their passion with world-changing results are hugely out of the ordinary. Finding and forging a career is already a thankless task. And, telling hundreds of 21-year-olds and 22-year-olds to do the same seems almost ridiculous.
So what about the rest of us, the ones who still don’t know what it is that they love, or worse, how to turn it into something successful? These days, it’s not enough to just work hard, do a job well and reap the rewards at the end. These days you have to love your job, really love it, put it above everything else and succeed. It’s true that the relationship you have with your career will be one of the most engaging and long-lasting relationships of your entire life. But does that mean realising your most deeply held dreams will only do? That anything less of that is a failure?
For me it’s writing. As a child I wrote letters to invisible fairies, and I still have the 10-page book that I wrote, and illustrated when I was 12. As a teenager I wrote heart-wrenching poetry and wrote down the lyrics of music that spoke to me. I had a friend when I was 17 who wrote a thousand-page book, which lead me to writing a 462-page novel about alter-realities, and other stuff. I still write. I’d like to make a career of it, but actually I’m a waitress, I’ve interned and shadowed and temped since I finished college, it’s exhausting, but it’s waitressing that gets me by, as well as allows me to fuel my shoe obsession.
In a breath of relief, I’m not the only one. My old schoolmate hasn’t had a salaried job since she graduated. It’s not that she hasn’t worked, she works 12-hour days and sometimes weekends. But her job happens to be in fashion where the experience is meant to be payment enough. By now she was expecting to be offered a job, or anything really. She does exactly what she’s supposed to, but so far, it hasn’t got her to where she wants to be.
A friend of my sister’s was a model throughout her 20s and has been trying to pursue her dream of becoming an actress in the States for the last couple of years. She’s had her ups and downs, more downs than ups, i think. And it makes me wonder, are these dreams just too big?
A too-big-of-a-dream, is it possible? Whenever I watch X-factor I want to cry when those 3 red X’s light up. Those are people’s dreams too, just like mine, so thoughtlessly shattered by celebrities! And how do you ‘Not give up your day job’ when all you’ve been doing is pursuing your dreams? When I ask myself what it is that I would consider my dream job I picture this: London Fashion Week, the second row, wearing Jimmy Choo’s, clutching a writing pad and a pen, and a list of all the exclusive front row guests, models walking, and a media pass for backstage – to interview Louis Gray of course. I want to be a catwalk reporter. Dream big much?
It’s hard to compare this to someone who has it all figured out. A childhood friend of mine is an accountant and just put a down payment on her first apartment. She’s 25. It’s definitely not her dream job to work for a bank, but this way she gets to live the life that she’s always dreamed of, and she’s incredibly happy. “Work is boring, but the people are nice”, she says, and its given her the kind of things that makes the rest of us feel like we’re missing the point of what jobs are actually for. your job should be the strong backbone of your life – the bit that keeps all the other bits upright. But the insistance that it has to be your ultimate passion of your entire existence means that if you give it up then you have failed yourself hopelessly. So there it is, the answer just hit me. It’s not about doing what you love and being employed to do it. It’s about doing what you’re good at so that you can have the life that you want.
Though I’m only a year out of college, I’m not about to give up on my dreams, that’ll be like not even trying. And we have to at least try. I’ll still write, and ill take every opportunity that comes my way. I’ll write whether someone pays me to do it or not. And as it may often be ‘not’, in the meantime I might as well pursue some other things too. Speaking to a fellow writer about this topic, she told me this, ‘There’s no denying that your career is a big deal but focusing all your energies on finding that one perfect job is like focusing all your energies on finding that one perfect partner. The search is unbearable and blinds you to the things that could enrich your life right now. So make some money however you can and enjoy your life.” After all earning a living isn’t supposed to replace actual living.