Growing up, I quickly learned I was an overtly passionate person by nature. In that regard, I was a wildly scattered individual in my endeavors, but I also thrived undeniably in my differing fields of interest.
Yet, instead of embracing each of those avenues to form a collective whole, I felt the constant pressure to whittle it all down and pick a single, definitive path. I felt the need to step back from the influence of passion and think sensibly about it all. I felt the need to be practical.
After all, I had to make the right decision in regards to my education, my career and my future. It was all laid out before me; I had to decide the straight and narrow path to that destination.
Fast-forward to the beginning of my early adult years, I realized I wasn't happy. I cast aside writing — my primary passion, the only thing I felt an innate need to do — in favor of subject matter and practice, which simply didn't compel, motivate or excite me.
I felt discouraged and frustrated with the system, the way we have to pick and choose, and felt I had made the wrong choice.
We all find ourselves in similar dilemmas throughout our lives. While some of us may luck out and spend our lives fearlessly pursuing our passions, many of us find ourselves ultimately torn.
We are told not to be artists, musicians, writers, actors, adventurers or anything else perceived as wild, unstable or unpredictable. We are told to inhibit these parts of ourselves in favor of the traits and practices that make sense, the ones that lead to careers associated with stability and safety.
The problem with this logic, if you ask me, is that it asks us to abandon a driving element of who we are in favor of compromise. Don’t get me wrong; I am privy to the reality that life can often be about compromising, but I refuse to believe compromise is all it is about.
We spend our lives always thinking a step ahead. We are programmed to have our sights on the next move; half the time, we run in the proverbial rat race before we even realize we've decided to join.
While I can accept that dream jobs are not always easily attainable and passions aren't always meant to be careers, I do not buy into the belief that we should abandon these parts of ourselves in favor of utter practicality and preparation.
What is the sense in spending our lives preparing to live without ever allowing ourselves to live them how we hoped to?
We are told to never settle for mediocrity when it comes to love, so why should other elements of our future have to bend to such restrictions?
Call me idealistic, but I wholeheartedly believe it is the essential urges and passions with which we are born and which we cultivate that allow us the greatest successes in both personal and professional senses.
Otherwise, we risk spending our lives confined between the walls of unstimulating tasks and mundane patterns of work, repeating the same, unsatisfying cycles and then becoming trapped.
Of course, you have to work hard to live and to thrive, but if you don't enjoy that work and endure it just to support yourself and continue to live, doing work you don't enjoy, how is that truly practical? What happens when you get to the end?
While we are stuck in this perpetual forward motion, I think we often forget to consider how we will feel when it's all said and done.
You see, by operating under the belief that we can't pursue specific paths based on the argument of practicality, we cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to explore who we are and how we could live our lives.
This is not to say it will always be easy or enjoyable. All things we do in life require work, dedication and perseverance, but when you spend your life doing things you love, working at them won't feel like a relentless chore.
We may not always have it all, but I believe we can pursue the avenues that thrill us and inspire us and achieve success on a less singular level. This kind of success can be shared with our loved ones, future families, and all those we touch along the way.
It is the acceptance of our passions, applied continuously and fearlessly to the practical world, which will bring us the type of unbridled, day-to-day happiness many of us consider to be an unrealistic pursuit.
When you think about it, whatever your craft may be, someone has managed to conquer it to some extent. There is no rule that claims you can't do the same. I think it is, in fact, unpractical to deny yourself the chance of using your most elaborate skillset — the one your passions ultimately provide.
You are more likely to succeed at doing something you truly love than working away, tirelessly, at something you merely tolerate. It's not a matter of choosing the easier or more practical craft, it's about becoming the master of your chosen craft.
Life isn't about giving up on what excites us, but is, instead, about finding the balance between that thrill and passion and the stability we need for our futures.
Don't cheat yourself of the opportunity to find that niche and passion. You deserve a future that both excites you and allows you to feel safe. If you ask me, that is what success is truly all about.