There are so many inspirational quotes in the world about chasing your passion, following your heart, and doing what you love. These are the values that inspire people to innovate, to invent, and to keep going when things get tough. Dreaming, persevering, and following your heart are all wonderful things, but I can’t help but be seated at a point of conflict with advice like this. While the thought is pure, this mindset often overlooks life’s stepping stones – of which there are many. As terrible as it sounds, it’s impossible to always be doing things that you love. Life is full of interludes and in between moments and unfortunate circumstances…but the bigger message there is that this is okay.
So many times, myself and other people my age have fallen victim to fear of missing out. While this typically refers to missing out on a cool event, there’s a bigger picture there. Seeing people “chase their passions” and jet set around the world is hard. It feels terrible to know that you’re sitting in an office while Meghan-with-an-H who graduated a year after you is touring Spain. Few fears are more deep and profound than the fear you’re missing out – not on a cool concert, but on your life.
Many take a standpoint of assuming those things are impractical and unobtainable. Instead of listening to their fear, they bury it, silence it, and choose a life that pushes those things away. I don’t want to dilute the point here: the fear sucks, and I would do almost anything to get rid of it too. This isn’t a wrong way of handling it and is a perfectly logical response. My viewpoint is just a little different.
What if the crummy periods of life – the job you hate, the apartment you can’t afford, the side job you had to pick up to afford that apartment, etc. – weren’t the end? What if those things are just the interludes, the intermissions of the world. It’s not fun to be miserable or hate your daily routine, but what if those things could lead to something better? If you don’t silence the voice that says life is passing you by, maybe you could take a moment to hear it out. Maybe you could have a reasonable discussion with the voice, formulate a plan, and determine the best way to achieve the things you’ve always wanted to do.
I don’t know many people my age who could quit their jobs for a booze cruise in Barcelona. That sounds like a dream, but there’s a reason dreams and reality don’t always align. What people my age can do is come up with attainable goals and a plan for reaching them. I can guarantee I’ll still be interested in Barcelona booze cruises when I’m 25, so what can I do at 22 to make that a possibility? I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but I do know that resigning myself to a lifestyle where my dreams are out of reach isn’t what I’d like to do. It’s terrifyingly easy to become complacent in a routine you don’t actually enjoy without even realizing it – I’m not going to let that be my life.
My hope is that we’ll all one day be doing food tours of Italy, Eat, Pray, Love style. In the meantime, maybe you’ll have to spend hours commuting to do something you love because you can’t afford rent closer to the office. Maybe you’ll have to feel stuck for a bit before you’re able to get moving. Maybe things seem dismal now, but don’t give up on what you want to accomplish. Ignore the negativity, but don’t silence your inner fear. It might just turn out to be the best business partner you could have.