Tag Archives: Passion

To All My Dramatic Dreamers (Myself Included)

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about superstitions and my experience with the paranormal. I forced myself to write it. After I finished, I decided to hold off on posting it and wait till the next day– today. This evening, as I sat in front of my computer ready to publish my piece I decided to write something different (which is this post that you’re reading right now). Why? I can’t really say. Perhaps it’s because what I had originally intended to post didn’t seem adequate enough. It felt rushed and forced and all it had to offer was mediocrity. I can’t deny that I’ve been in a stump these past few months. As you can tell from my lack of posting, I’ve lost enjoyment for my craft and have been feeling passionless, which is scary because I’ve convinced myself that writing and reading are my bread and butter. I’ve told myself that it’s all I have to offer the world.
Reading and WritingReading and Writing Reading and Writing
I’ve lived most of my life assuming that my career would center around these two words that have consumed me for most of my academic life.
 Then all of a sudden I lost any motivation and desire to continue reading and writing, and I was lost– am lost. I know this isn’t groundbreaking. Everyone is lost at 21. Boo hoo, Via. Welcome to the most inclusive club on Earth!

Despite this suffering being a communal affair, I still feel helpless. My world has tilted from 23º to 90º and I’ve been left with the one question that has paralyzed any forward movement in my life: Do I like reading and writing because I’m actually passionate about it or do I like it because I’ve been told that (relatively) I’m good at it? Thereby convincing me to love it? Because if I didn’t actually love it, where would that leave me? What would I do then? If I truly loved something, why did I give up on it for months? Why did I lose any desire to continue? Why did I dread reading and writing during my final semesters? Hello, existential crisis.

I thought back to my undergrad and realized how I fell out of love with reading and writing because I felt forced to do it. I needed to write that 10 page exegesis because I needed that grade to pass and ensure my parents’ sacrifices for my education weren’t in vain. I needed to work those hours at the Writing Center, reading and peer-reviewing other students’ papers to make money. I needed to complete my Literature degree because I had already come so far. I was so surrounded by what I thought I had loved that I felt suffocated by it.

And then I thought about the potential career I had planned for myself (publishing), which more or less, would be the same thing. Would my attitude towards reading and writing– my supposed passions– shift from adoration to resentment then? 

Then I wondered if anyone else has thought this. Do accountants become accountants because they love numbers or because they’re good with them? This question reminded me of an article I read claiming that we do ourselves and our community a disservice by building a career solely off of something we love. It argued that, more or less, following your dream is a waste of time if you’re not one of the lucky few. This post went against everything I’ve been taught. Not follow your dream? How… pessimistic– or perhaps, now, realistic? After all, it’s called a dream because not everyone has what it takes to make it tangible. Or maybe they do, but they’re perpetually screwed over by the injustice of a fickle world. I questioned constantly the validity of this statement. It had merit. There are countless artists– writers– out there who love an industry that doesn’t love them. There are hundreds of unrecognized talents who are overshadowed by those who were in the right place at the right time but are mediocre at best.

Then I considered the idea that I lost my love for reading and writing because I lost faith in my ability to actualize my goals– because I was afraid what I wanted to do wasn’t what I should do, that it wouldn’t be profitable or I wouldn’t “make it”. And then my mind went on a tirade bombarding me with questions of my quality of life if I were to pursue a career in publishing that has less than fruitful results for the majority. Then it bombed me with questions regarding my happiness were I to do something I could find security in but didn’t fulfill what I really wanted. Then I paralyzed myself even more from my inability to just decide. Then I attacked myself for being so consumed with needing money. I rationalized this desire by understanding that I obviously need money to survive. Then I thought about how broke I was and questioned how I could ever become independent. After I went through this– for lack of a better term– episode, every romantic notion claiming that we foster happiness by following our dream was folded in half and stored in the far off drawers of my mind. 

And then I went crazy.

When I calmed down enough, I then thought about the binate system we’re conditioned to follow: this or that but never both. Or or or or.  It always had to be one or the other. You either follow your passion and risk a less stable life or you choose a profitable job which you might be good at but have no real interest in. In the midst of this dimming thought, I realized I never asked myself why I couldn’t do both. More than that, why did the choices have to be either good or bad, or bad or worse? Why couldn’t the options be good or best? With such a dismal outlook, it was no wonder I “lost” passion. 

I thought back to Bukowski’s famous words: “Find what you love and let it kill you.” I had been consumed by this line when I first came across it. I remember reading it, letting it sink in and thinking they were the most profound words ever arranged in a 9 syllable sentence. Fuck yeah! I couldn’t wait to be killed by my passion. MURDER ME, CHARLES BUKOWSKI! MY BODY IS READY.

But here I am, years later, figuratively dying and wondering why does it have to be so dramatic? After all was thought and anguished over to an overwhelming amount, I thought about those who follow their dreams as a hobby while they pursue more profitable avenues; they continue to hone their art in some hope that one day they’ll find their big break. A practical and reasonable choice. I don’t think it’s giving up–more like… being wise. Why does following your dreams often equate to being impetuous and foolish? Why is there no smart way to accomplish your goals? Practicality isn’t romantic, sure, but that doesn’t make it a less viable option.

So here I am, slowly trying to figure out a smart way to be what I want to be. Do I love reading and writing again? I’m working on it. In fact, this is the first time I’ve been inspired to write all summer and I must say that I feel satisfied having completed something of value– at least to me. That’s a start. I’m also thinking that I’ll try the practical route and see what comes from that. I might also change my mind the next day and just wing it all, but I’m thinking that that’s okay too.

So while I’m often subjected to boughts of hopelessness and despair and all the dramatics of life in regards to the future, I’m quite eager to figure it out as I go along. I’m learning to trust myself and understand, that for all my mistakes and flaws, I know I’ll be okay in the end. Again, maybe that seems arrogant, but what I’ve also learned is that you need a little ego to be where you want to be in life.

 

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear your opinions below. Let’s have a discussion!

Follow Your Passion, Not Your Paycheck: Reasons Why You Should Ignore the Haters

Just a few months ago, I had the great fortune of being called in for jury duty. I basically sat in a cramped room with a hundred other people who didn’t want to be there either and were likely trying to think of a good reason to be excused. I know what you’re thinking, and yes– it was every bit as exciting and fun as you’d think it’d be. The entire waiting room was filled with people and, because the jury commissioner asked us to put our phones away while we waited for the judge to call us in, we passed the time by talking to those sitting next to us and bonding over our mutual hate for jury duty.

It was during this time that I shared a conversation with the man sitting next to me. We had talked about various things, but, most notably, bowling, bees, and existential crises at the age of 20.

He had asked me, “So you’re in school. What are you studying?” To which I replied, “Literature.” And, not to my surprise, he continued by saying, “Ah! So you want to be a teacher.” Being well rehearsed in this response, I kindly said, “No, not a teacher.” He scoffed, and then said, “I mean, what else can you be? A librarian?”

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Be very quiet and still! Here we have a literature major in her natural habitat. Be careful not to make any sudden noise or movement because she’ll probably be too invested in her book to even really notice you.

Now, I’m sure he meant this to be funny instead of offensive, but I realized that this is a common occurrence among those who choose to major in the humanities. In fact, I was more surprised that I wasn’t surprised by his response because I’ve grown so used to it. There seems to be this notion that the only job you can get by majoring in English, philosophy, communication, social science, or the various other humanity degrees is teaching. Many assume that it’s a “waste of tuition money.” You know what’s a waste of money? Paying for printing in the library.

But here’s some valuable insight you can share to all those people who tell you that your degree in the humanities lacks marketable skills.

Take writing for example. Writing is invaluable and will continue to be relevant and necessary in every field. More than that, good writing isn’t something you can achieve by inputting a formula in a calculator and waiting for a computer to prepare the message you want to convey. It comes with years of practice– of learning how to analyze, think critically, read well, and develop ideas. It requires forethought and knowledge, of words and their meanings, of cultural and historical context. You have to consider the audience you are writing for. You have to learn how to blend words and sentences together with coherence and unity in order to make it interesting enough for people to want to read. There are so many factors to be considered.

Some may assume that writing is irrelevant with video blogs coming out and print journalism going out of style, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Most of the knowledge learned and spread today is due to written works. Politicians, business owners, universities, nearly every industry you can think requires a written component in their field in order to function, and even more, prosper. Writing well, reading well, and critical thinking are all skills that are emphasized in a humanity degree and are components needed to accurately articulate thoughts and ideas.

In addition to that, humanities majors are taught to extend past the barriers of their own nations. With the expansion of businesses and the continued interactions between countries and cultures, we need people who approach situations with a global perspective. Communication majors, linguists, and those familiar with social science and intercultural studies can offer insight for more productive interactions between political leaders, business owners, and a plethora of other careers that prosper from understanding the social climates of various places around the world.

By learning the various customs, traditions, beliefs, and languages of other places, humanities students learn how to appropriately interact with those outside of their own corner of the world. They look at the world with broad lenses that allow them to view society as more than what they find within the confines of their respective locations. This is especially useful in today’s day and age and will continue to be so due to constant intercommunication among nations and their leaders.

And you know what else? The influx of business and stem majors means there’s going to be a need for the humanities in the future. The pendulum always swings back.

Now, you might say, “Via, look at the statistics.”

I’ll be honest and say I have searched up statistics, and all I see are numbers that mean nothing to me. The “unimpressive income of humanities majors” isn’t the reason I chose to major in literature. I chose it because this is what I love. I firmly believe that it is not our choices, but our reaction to our decisions that make us who we are and lead us to where we need to be, and it is because of that, that that data is irrelevant. Those who’ve contributed to those unappealing statistics don’t have to be me, and they don’t have to be you either. Don’t conform to the statistics. Defy them! Where would humans be if they didn’t seek to challenge the odds?

Sure. You can learn how to master Excel in a matter of weeks and read books and watch YouTube videos on the statistics of profit and loss. You can buy Rosetta Stone and learn French, Chinese, or German.  But critical thinking, effective communication, and problem solving are skills honed by the humanities. They are at the core of the knowledge that we seek to achieve and these skill sets are not a “waste of money.” They come with time and constant practice and if you aren’t taught to employ them correctly, then you’re not really getting anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me saying that the humanities are better than any other major out there. Just because I am speaking on behalf of those who have a passion for such studies doesn’t mean I wish to dissuade you from your dream of owning a business, or being an engineer, a math professor, politician, or whatever your heart desires. What I hope to leave you with is the message of value in all knowledge and learning. Nowadays you can’t approach something with one skill. It’s all interdisciplinary

We all need each other.

So the next time you hear jokes about humanity majors wasting time, effort, and money, laugh. Laugh hard and long. Not at the wisecrack of whatever that ignorant person said about your humanity degree, but at the sheer absurdity that there are actually people in the world who correlate the value of knowledge with monetary gain. Because if you’re so worried about money and luxury, then maybe you shouldn’t major in the humanities. Hell, don’t major in anything for that matter. Every field requires a risk and taking chances isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re afraid of the how uncertain the future is with a degree in the humanities, you won’t find security in any other major. We’re all finding our way and we’re all learning as we go. So we might as well do it with a passion.