Have you ever thought back to when you were a kid and you would say, “Someday I want to be an astronaut!” It could be something within the realm of Earth’s atmosphere, too: “Someday I want to be a teacher…” [insert police man, mountain climber, comedian, juggler, etc].
I think it’s funny how the “real world” can creep its way in ever so subtly. When we go to high school, some of us are still in that “I-can-be-a-pro-baseball-player-if-I-want-to” mindset, while others are focusing on their calculus and physics because they might be thinking about studying engineering in college.
What’s that? College? Even more draining on the dream system than highschool, this experience teaches you about all the specific trades you might have never known could be a career option. You go in with one major and leave after you’ve tried three or more others. The tricky part is being one of those kids who can nail it– go in knowing what you want to do and persevere even when you don’t think you’ll pass next semester’s lineup of classes.
You start living on your own, which means grilled cheese, cereal and microwave soup become your main source of nourishment; living paycheck to paycheck (if you’re anything like me and love to spend money on “fun things” as soon as it hits your pocket); and daydreaming about anywhere and everywhere else you would rather be.
Now, instead of thinking about that dream you had as a child (the one where you wanted to grow up to be a juggler), you begin investigating all these crazy majors offered. You know, those majors, the ones you never knew existed? Organic agriculture, art therapy, home economics, astrobiology, you get the point. And then there are the more practical ones, but you’ve only now discovered they could be career options, such as fashion merchandising, dance education, horticulture, renewable energy… the list goes on.
You realize any of these could be interesting, or an “easy A” or maybe even fun.
And then Winter hits you as hard as your face crashing into your desk because you’re thinking about being on the beach in Santa Monica instead of in your freezing cold classroom listening to your monotone professor drone on and on and on and on and…
You can’t live in Santa Monica (or any nice city for that matter) without money. Lots of it. [Unless you want to work 60+ hours a week.] So as you’re hanging out in your art therapy class, you realize what a waste of time it is… because how likely are you to
- find a career?
- find long-term clients?
- keep a business running?
- make a profit?
- have extra spending money after rent, bills, children and/or pets?
Think about it this way: People spend SO much money to pay tuition and room & board at an AWESOME school, and on top of that, party all their spare cash away — just to graduate with a degree in history (it’s cool, but what can you do with it? Definitely not teach with this economy the way it is), or even worse, retail management. You won’t be able to pay for that Santa Monica condo near the beach. What do you do now?
You start to think about applying for the money-making majors. Accounting, finance, engineering, mass media, biochemistry, law (as long as you plan on following up with med school/law school, respectively), and then some.
→ [Sidebar: Unless you have a real passion for these topics, they will probably suck. The only benefit is that these are the types of career paths that could set you on the fast track to freedom; the get rich (semi)quick types.]
The problem here is that yeah, you’ll be fine financially, but will you be happy? Will you look forward to work every day? Will you be inspired by what you do?
Chances are slim.
Dream big. Set yourself on a path that you will enjoy. If you set your goals just high enough, they might be easier to reach.
For instance, my goals are to write articles for fashion magazines, then become an editor, or maybe move on to writing big-time novels. Who knows? All I can control now are the baby steps I’m taking to get myself there: working as an event planner and writing/editing advertisements.
Calling So-Cal, keep an apartment open for me… I’m on my way!
Dreaming BIG really isn’t that bad now, is it?