When I was a little girl and thought of growing up, I closed my eyes and saw a life full of prosperity. I saw a world where I could do what I loved most, play Barbies in my spare time, and make a lot of money being a veterinarian, curing boxes of adorable puppies on a daily basis. Then when I turned thirteen and reality was a little clearer, Celine Dion proved to me I had the pipes to belt out ‘My Heart Will Go On’ until my heart (and those around me) would not go on any longer. I knew that someday I would date Justin Timberlake because we were at the same place in our musical careers and we could understand each other.
When I graduated high school and Justin Timberlake started dating Cameron Diaz, I knew I had to pick an alternative life. It took some time (and a few people cringing at the sound of my voice), but I soon realized I could not be the next pop artist. Instead, I would go to college and dig into its grab bag of opportunity.
I wanted to find out who and what I wanted to be. And I had a four-year time crunch.
When I graduated, I was pushed into a world full of options. At first, I took all of the options, put them in a sack that was my mind and tried them on one by one. Some were good (interning at CollegeCandy, FTW!), and others not so much (clerical work just isn’t my thang), and as time went on, I realized one thing: I needed to do something that struck my passionate heart strings. I knew I could deal with whatever my occupation tossed me from then on if I had a big ass crush on it.
So I chose writing. It is something that has always made me happy and decided that no matter what the job, I wanted to do virtually anything that involved taking out a piece of paper and decorating it with some witty, smart, and entertaining scribble. Relief set in when I decided to strive towards this goal in life. Finally, I had some direction! A path to follow. It was calming to know that I finally had a clue and now all I had to do was make it happen.
But I soon discovered that finding our passion is the easiest part about the growing up process. (You mean it gets harder? Pass the fudge, please.) The molding it into something real is where things get difficult.
You see, running after my dream job came with its own set of problems. I had two options: I could be passionate and really dive into my field head first without any guarantee that it would ever work out, or I could be completely practical. You know, take any job, make some money, whatever. Being practical was obviously tempting because I knew I could get a solid job outside of my field right away, make money, live on my own, pay my loans and move along.
But did I really want to work a job that’s only benefit was that it was secure, or struggle in a field where my card may not be dealt until I was ready to retire?
That’s probably the toughest question any recent post-grad will face, and one that kept me up, staring at my ceiling, for weeks.
I went back and forth (money or passion, passion or money, live with my parents forever or have a sick apartment and a job I loathe?), until one day I climbed out of my childhood bed and decided that it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. It doesn’t have to be love or loathe, success or failure. In a moment of post-grad clarity (which are much less frequent than post-grad meltdowns), I realized that we can balance our passion with some practicality. We can choose our passions and we can use practicality to get there. We can start at the bottom, prove ourselves, and work our way up (practical), until we end up in the job we’re head over heels in love with (passion).
We may not get there right away, but that’s OK. At this point in the game, I am content in knowing that my passion is strong enough to get me where I want to be in the end.
Maybe it’s the high of finally getting a job that I actually love (go me!), but I truly believe all of us should do what makes us happy. And I truly believe it’s possible to do so. It might take a little time and some sacrifice, but there is a future out there for every one of us that is as wonderful as it is practical.
Except maybe marrying Justin Timberlake; who knows how long we’re going to have to wait for him to break up with Jessica Biel??
Read more about the ups and downs of Brittany’s post-grad life and empathize with her here.