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Should I Follow My Passion?

I often find myself caught in between a stereotypical “millennial” world of doing what you love, following your dreams, etc., and the stereotypical “boomer” world of life never goes your way nor should it. Get a job and make it work. Of course, these are stereotypes, but can anyone relate to this?

As with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Follow Your Dreams

From a young age, society floods us with messages that encourage us to dream big, change the world, make an impact, etc. You know the drill. But when we enter the world and the marketplace, suddenly it seems that message changes. Not only is reality a smack of cynicism and frustration, but people seem to change their tone and tell you to grow up, you’re not being realistic; as long as you have a steady job, that’s all you can ask for.

As noted in my post about thriving in a toxic culture, this is another topic where I must acknowledge the privilege involved in considering whether to follow my passion. I’m thankful to not be living during the great depression, or in circumstances that simply require survival. That aside, I believe it’s important to consider where we invest our time and efforts; and honestly, I’d love feedback in the process anyway.

Adulting

I’ve fallen into a couple jobs after college, ones that have almost nothing to do with my major/minor/interest. I studied International Relations, Arabic, and Hebrew, and hoped to work in my field. A decade has passed, and I have yet to find the “dream job.” However, in the meantime, I’ve grown beyond what I thought I could, been given great opportunities and experience, and fostered some beautiful relationships and community.

While it all seems worth it, there is still the constant internal tug, and I wonder if my office hours are better spent doing something that I’m 100% passionate about. At the same time, I don’t fully know what the dream looks like. I have ideas but it seems like an unrealistic expectation.

Authenticity

I follow an account on Instagram called @createthelove. Mark Groves, who brands himself as a “Human Connection Specialist,” provides “no-BS” relationship tips and guidance. Recently, he posted a quote from Kristin Hannah who said, “Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.”

As an Enneagram 2 (okay, another millennial interest), this really resonates. There is this balance between meeting everyone else’s expectations and needs while trying to figure out what you want or need. Additionally, I’ve found that even though I may not be in a dream career, I have been on a process of finding my authentic self, inside and outside of work. This has shown that no matter what career I find myself in, there is growth to be done regardless. It is worth the journey.

I appreciated Mark’s further commentary under the quote, “All that we need to begin is to allow ourselves to dream and to play in answering those questions. Allow yourself to dream big! Allow yourself to explore. Allow yourself to be silly… All of this can feel like a stretch… but I promise – you can find who you are and what matters.”

Sign me up! I want to enjoy the exploration process and have seen so much value in it so far.

My Best Shot

In conclusion, my best answer is to see how you can work your passions into whatever you do while still aiming for what may be the best career fit. Since I am passionate about people, connections, and leadership, I can easily focus on those things in whatever career field I find myself. My interest in maps, geography, and languages may have to wait for another job.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Have you followed your passions? What did it look like? Would you make any changes?

James Abyad is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. He lives in Alexandria, VA, and loves people, food, music, geography, languages, and Tolkien. His full-time job is just another basic federal employee, specifically a contracting officer, while fully enjoying the Washington, D.C., region. After studying International Relations and Arabic at American University, he aspired to work in diplomacy or a related non-profit; yet, like most millennials, he is trying to pay his student loans off first. So, in the meantime, you can find him investing time in family, friends, community, church, spin, and eating. You can read his posts here.

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Profile Photo Nicole Blake Johnson

This post definitely hit home. When I started writing about government tech, I felt so out of place. I struggled to grasp concepts and acronyms. I remember one of my mentors reminded me that these are ultimately stories about people. The people part is what I love most and being able to create content that is accessible and relevant for people in government is something I am passionate about. Sometimes, you have to create your own niche and follow that passion to really find meaning in your work. It’s good for you and the community you serve.

Profile Photo James Abyad

Nicole, I love reading about your own experience with this topic so thanks! And I totally agree. There are a few things about my career field that I can really own and hold onto, that I am passionate about. So in the meantime, I’m focusing on those things, while gaining experience and connecting with great people! Most lessons you need to learn you can learn in any environment anyway. Thanks again!