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Thursday, May 9. 2013
Should the youth "follow their passions" in career direction? And what if they have no career passion? And is "passion" necessarily a wise guide to major life decisions anyway? (It's definitely a good guide to hobbies and avocational pursuits, but not always a good guide to talent.)
The topic is raised here: I Know I'm Supposed To Follow My Passion. But What If I Don't Have A Passion?
I have more to say about it, but I don't have the time. Our readers probably have some thoughts.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:26 | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)
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I can add one of my thoughts: If the career is central to one's identity, then one has either a "calling" or an identity problem.
The need to make a living is the most wholesome thing. We can't all be Picassos or Haydns.
ScottJ and BD's comments are in this league:
(read a minute of this every day and you will be noticeably better armed against them slings & arrows of outrageous fate)
''Listen, son. Most women are damn fools and children. But they've got more range than we've got. The brave ones are braver, the good ones are better — and the vile ones are viler, for that matter.''
How anybody expects a man to stay in business with every two-bit wowser in the country claiming a veto over what we can say and can't say and what we can show and what we can't show — it's enough to make you throw up. The whole principle is wrong; it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak.
''You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.''
--Logic of Empire (1941); this is one of the earliest known variants of an idea which has become known as Hanlon's razor.
Clarke's three laws
List of eponymous laws
(all hyperlinked at the link)
The notion that you're supposed to "follow your passion" as a primary goal could only be propagated and sustained in times of uncommon general wealth, prosperity, and loads of free time.
How many people these days work as hard as their grandparents did?
Assuming your "passion" is identified, can sustain you, and you've got the talent to make it work, that's great. Most people can't, or don't reasonably have the real opportunity (or talent) to do so. Having a life, good and bad inclusive, intervenes.
...could only be propagated and sustained in times of uncommon general wealth, prosperity, and loads of free time
That sounds like retirement. I never really found a passion that involved major income production. Now that is taken care of for the most part so some of the trivial passions can come to the fore. Old guys don't drive sports cars to recapture youth, they just finally got to the point where they can afford one. Bought one last weekend; always wanted one but it was impractical on many levels. Now to hell with practical - hooray for passion. I can't see too well and may pull some crazy lane changes. I'll be the old guy in front of you. You might want to stay out of Colorado until my wife takes the car away from me. She keeps saying, "Remember the car is a chick magnate, not you." She is getting senile though.
This problem is common but the cause/cure is not. Often young people lack sufficient experiences to have found a passion or calling, especially people who are focused on academic achievement. They put so much of themselves into their studies/career that they don't know so much that is outside of their world. I would hesitate to tell someone on a solid career track to take a year off and see the world but if it is a passion they want then they need to go on a search for it. On the other hand maybe a few years of following their career path will bring them the answer. I think most of us graduate, find jobs we like (or can tolerate) get married and have kids and then the next 20 odd years of your life are spent bringing up kids and struggling to keep it all together. Then a mid life crisis which is really the same search for your passion may send us off in a different direction.
Have you noticed the bulk of the internet it taken up with upper middle class angst? Follow your passion? That is only an option for those with rich daddies. Poor people get jobs and follow GoneWithTheWind's trajectory. Oh, I suppose to an extent people follow their passion, but then she gets pregnant so job, married, kids...midlife crisis.
But if you want to "follow your passion" and you haven't stumbled across it, you might want to make your passion learning. Then whatever job or assignment you end up in, there are things to learn so you can be passionate.
Heck, even if you end up in solitary confinement prohibited books or other media, you can seek new knowledge from synthesizing what you already know.
If you can afford to pay yourself, then you can work at things you want done. Otherwise, you get paid to do things other folks want done. If you are the rare bird who likes to do things other folks don't, you can maybe do both.
The biggest problem I think with being young, and it was true for me also, is that not enough people take the time to explain to you what money really is and how it works.
...possibly because it has to do with phases of life, which young people have not yet isolated as an observable structure.
Not just what money is and how it works but how life is and how it works.
Fundamentally, at some point and really the earlier the better, a person must begin to do something others find useful. If you are wealthy, you can do that by purchasing or hiring others but if you are not heavy on cash, your time and effort must be spent doing something useful for others. Big, caveat, it must be something they find useful and are willing to pay you to do. Deciding the homeless need a place to hold a drum circle so the taxpayers should build a "meeting place", isn't going to meet the criteria.
But kids, more today than in the past, are not taught to do things useful to others. They, again we are talking about middleclass brats, do things they want and that they find useful. The majority aren't even required to clean their rooms. They are shuttled from on "kid experience" event to another.
Then in college they are led into majors that again do nothing useful for others. They are coddled and told to find their passion. They are taught to gaze a their navel.
Now, graduated, they find to get this money that has always rained from the heavens, they must figure out how to do something useful for others, even if they aren't passionate about it or even if they hate doing the task.
But we don't teach kids about money, we don't teach them to study, we don't teach them responsibility, we don't teach them how to write, we don't teach them how to show up on time, we don't teach them... So the question is, what are we teaching them?
My "passion" has always been to be competent. I don't like being an idiot at work or anything. If someone has a skill and is competent at something, they can almost always make it a passion. If it's your "passion" and you are no good at it, well there you go...
I'm good at:
I'm bad at:
Almost anything medical
Committee work (end of my first career!)
Pool maintenance (Pool service :-) )
Finances (I. Have. A. Wife. :-) )
Running (I. Do. Not. Run.)
And other stuff I don't have time to figure out right now. So I write code and design programs during the day and go camping on the weekends. And hang around outside in my jungle pruning things and commiserating with the grandchildren.
How did that all come about? Well I started college in physics but I got bored. So I took a year off. Went back and got a degree in forestry. No jobs there so I was a program director for the YMCA and a scout executive for the BSA for 10 years. During that time I got an MS in Computer Science. So I then spent 25 years doing stuff to/in/about computers.
Point is: Life is a journey, not a destination.
I didn't know what my passion was until I was about 40 (in other words, just recently!). And it probably would sound boring to a 22-year-old kid with a new degree in his hand. I remember being that age and assuming I could find some awesome job that I would love that involved worldwide travel. LOL!
What I figured out as I got older is that you don't know sometimes what your strengths are until you try out many jobs. And sometimes you don't know jobs exist until you fall into one, find out you're good at it, and decide to pursue it further.
The whole idea of 'pursuing your passion' actually puts pressure on kids in middle school and high school, because they feel like failures for not knowing exactly what kind of career they want to have. I have had to talk to my teen about how entering college 'undecided' is no biggie and that most people don't know what they want to do once they graduate. And that is OK.
Entry level jobs are meant to be pretty dull and just get you some job experience so you can support yourself while you find out what you are really interested in. I wish schools would be teaching more of that these days.
My passion was airplanes beginning about age 6. But for the next 20 years I pursued science, because I was told that was the thing to do. (This was the '40s-50's.) After grad school, and after working for some time as a research microbiologist (published), I chucked it all at age 26, and became an air transport pilot. Never looked back and never a moment's regret. Pro tip: Pursue your passion if you can make a living at it.
Though they're both the same thing, 'finding happiness' is enormously riskier a proposition than 'avoiding misery'. For one thing, one can do pretty well on the latter by simply avoiding dwelling on the former.