I think we can all agree that deciding on a career that is sustainable, yet something enjoyable often seems like an impossible feet. So what’s the better option? Doing something you’re not akin to that pays the bills, or love what you do and be scrounging for pennies? The politically correct answer is, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” What a bunch of
bullshit. I mean we’ve all heard it before, but in the interest of staying true to myself and to this blog, I’m always going to keep it real with you guys and with that being said, here is my totally transparent opinion on the debate: you can’t have it all.
Let me take you way back.
Growing up in an Iranian family, your career paths are pretty much laid out for you. Doctor, lawyer, dentist, and if all else fails, engineer. Given that my mom is a nurse practitioner and my grandfather was an anesthesiologist, I pretty much always knew (or so I thought) that I was going to be a doctor. It was a legacy some would even say. I distinctly remember my dad (in his Farsi-English broken language) asking me questions like, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” or “What does success mean to you?” To which I would reply, “I want to be a doctor, because they make a lot of money.” That was it. There was no earth-shattering story behind it. I didn’t go through some traumatic experience that made me want to take care of others, no. I knew I wanted a certain lifestyle and in my mind, I thought becoming a doctor was the only way to obtain it.
Fast-forward a few years.
I was in my first year of college studying biology with a concentration in pre-med. I was eager, I was determined, and I had my heart set on going to medical school and following my grandfather’s footsteps as an anesthesiologist. I studied extremely hard. I overwhelmed myself with classes and I was stressed. I had terrible insomnia and I was more lost than I had ever been. And that’s when it dawned on me. I didn’t want to become a doctor. The person I thought I was, the life I thought I wanted, I now knew, wasn’t really me. It was who I thought I was. It was what I thought I was supposed to be.
At that time, I didn’t know what or whom I wanted to be, but I knew what I wanted out of my life. I wanted friendship. I wanted a social life. I wanted a well-respected job I could be proud of. I wanted to make good money, but I didn’t need my life to revolve around material things. I wanted it all, but I also wanted balance. I wondered if this was even possible, to choose a career based off the lifestyle I wanted. I had a moment where I had to be real with myself. Lots of internal dialogue. I knew I was smart, but I wasn’t valedictorian material. I knew I was a hard worker, but I wasn’t a bookworm. Finally I realized I couldn’t be a doctor. I couldn’t do all the things I want to do with my life and go to medical school. I couldn’t be a mom and a wife and be on call in the middle of the night. That’s not to say, it can’t be done. Many people do it and I applaud them. But I knew I wasn’t cut out for that. I had to be honest with myself.
So I thought long and hard. I tossed around a few ideas. I love to decorate; maybe I should study interior design. I love to write; maybe I should study journalism. I teetered and I tottered and after many back and forth conversations, a light bulb went off. What I wanted out of my life was simple; I wanted a happy medium. I wanted a work-life balance I could be proud of. I wanted a successful career driven by serving others in a field I felt valued. That’s when it hit me. “Nursing!” It was the perfect combination. A little bit of science, a dash of human relationships, a good, stable, applauded career, and a salary to back up my shopping addiction.
And so the story goes…
It’s been 9 years since I first started this path and if there is one thing I can say, it’s that I like what I do. All those things I wanted out of my life, I have; the friendships, the pride, the success, and the value. But if we’re being completely honest, do I LOVE it? Absolutely not! And anyone who tells you they do, is lying. Look, if any single one of us was offered all the money in the world and was given the freedom to lay on a beach all day and soak up some vitamin D, I dare challenge anyone to tell me they wouldn’t take the offer. None of us want to work. None of us love to work. But we have to. We have to survive and we have to make ends meet. But if we’re forced to be here, and if we’re forced to do it, why not try to do something that gives your life purpose? Why not try something that allows your passion for life to flow through your work?
The catch is, you have to have passion, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be in love with what you do. Passion is a feeling of enthusiasm or desire for someone or something. It is an eager interest in an idea or a cause. Passion in a verb. Love, on the other hand, is an intense emotion or deep affection. Love is a noun. Passion is about being the very best version of yourself and pouring everything that you are and everything you do, into what you believe and that goes for your career as well.
So the next time you find yourself asking to choose between the success or happiness, try to not be so black and white. Live in the grey. Live in the possibility of a happy medium. Live your life how you picture it playing out, and then discover what it will take to get you there and then go out and JUST DO IT. But whatever you choose, be great at it, be the best. Show your worth through your work and make your days count. Give your passion a purpose.
**For more in depth conversations on this post and many more, tune in to ‘Ever Forward Radio’ on Apple Podcasts and Spotify (or your favorite Podcast player) every third Wednesday of the month!