Monday, February 6, 2012

From Lack of to Pursuit of Passion

Sometimes we need a little inspiration to pursue what we love. Sometimes, we need a kick in the ass. Either way, it's important to follow your passions. I found that out the hard way, but now, I'm making myself a little more vulnerable and sharing my story with you. I hope that it helps you realize that in the grand scheme of things, passion is going to leave you with a much more robust and enjoyable life than money will. That being said, my story...

I find myself having to justify my course of study all the time. Family, nosy inquisitive people at church, and even friends are always asking me why I chose to study English and communications. They tell me how I'm "wasting my talent" by not pursuing a career in the medical field. They tell me that I won't have job security (which, yes, I do understand) and that I probably won't have the quality of life that I'd like to.

All of that used to matter to me. A lot. It's why I spent a year of my life miserable. Of course, I never let people know I was miserable, struggling to wake up for class, and dying a little bit on the inside every time I hauled myself and my 30 pounds of textbooks to the library. I always smiled, I always responded to the annoying "How's school going?" question positively, and I always hated myself for lying about it.

There are still times when I feel like it's more impressive to tell everyone I'm pre-med. It helps me evade the probing questions about why I'm doing what I'm doing and if I know the consequences. But honestly, I'm proud to study what I study. I'm beyond passionate about reading and writing. I love the prospect of communicating with others, with editing, with putting those passions into a career. If I have to spend the first few years after school working at an entry level or as an intern, so be it. It's better than wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school only to be miserable my entire life. Finacially secure, but miserable. That realization prompted me to take a new direction, one in which I knew I would be passionate about what I was studying.

Here's the story behind my change of course.

In high school, everyone told me I was proficient in science. I worked hard, studied hard. I believed it. I spent most of my high school days becoming a perfectionist. I joined numerous clubs, student council (which, I must admit, was the best decision ever), and the National Honors Society. I studied and actually tried. I worked. I tried to round myself out as much as I could. I wanted to be perfect so that I could get into the perfect school, get a huge scholarship to said school, and live a happy collegiate life with my amazingly brilliant collegiate friends having thoughtful, provocative banter on the topics of politics and philosophy all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 gpa and volunteering so I would be the best prepared candidate for medical school. That's not exactly how things turned out.

I did well in high school. I'll admit it because I earned the grades I got. I got into the schools I wanted to get into. I got scholarships. Unfortunately, though, I didn't get one to my dream school. I did get one to an amazing school, but it still would have been extremely expensive. So I did the responsible thing and took a scholarship to a school where I wasn't entirely sure I would be happy, but to where I was sure I would make the best of the experience. I decided to major in chemistry to become a dermatologist. Yes, one of the more superficial fields of medicine. I met some amazing people and studied tirelessly only to do OK in my classes. If you know me well, you know that OK is never accpetable. EVER. So I evaluated myself. What was it I loved? What I loved was writing and communicating. If I couldn't do that, I knew I wouldn't be happy. But deciding to change course was difficult. What would my parents say? What would people say? (WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WE ALWAYS HEAR ABOUT? AND WHY ARE THEY FOREVER IN EVERYONE'S BUSINESS?) Would everyone think I wasn't academically capable? I was. I really was.

I guess I worried too much about what people would think of me. I shouldn't have. I worry too much about pleasing everyone. As one of my friends told me so often, "Elise, it's impossible to make everyone happy. If you try, you'll never be happy yourself, and what's important is that at the end of the day, YOU are happy." I took it seriously this summer and decided to officially become an English major. And as far as my studies, I've never been happier. I love doing what I do and school continues to be an enjoyable experience. No more stress from the science classes, Organic Chemistry problem sets, seemingly endless labs. I have passion for what I'm doing, and that's the most important thing.

If you take nothing else from this post, realize that doing what you're passionate about is the best option. Yes, you're going to face struggles. Yes, it's going to be scary. But it's worth it. It's risky, but worth it. If you really love what you do, you'll be a success. I'm sure of it.

Wishing you inspiration, success, clarity, and passion,


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