Probably the most common cliche in the professional world is “hard work pays off”. And it wouldn’t be a cliche unless there was at least some truth behind it. The latest adaptation of this mantra that has probably made its way across your twitter feed is “turn your passion into profit”.
While being a cliche unlike its counterpart I don’t feel like there is a lot of truth behind it. We are constantly bombarded by a plethora of “self-made” entrepreneurs tweeting like fortune cookies talking about the successes of following their dreams. Leaving us star-struck by their magnificence urging us to leave behind our 9–5 to pick up a hobby to emulate the idea of “never working a day in our lives”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I will never tell someone to stop following their dreams as we are all entitled to seek happiness no matter what shape it comes…..but you should be self-aware enough to know that something may not be for you. And that’s okay. So maybe instead of chasing a dream, you chase your curiosity. Here is where the difference of the two mantras comes into play.
Speaking from experience I had a very hard time trying to turn my passion into a profit. As a jazz musician straight out of school I was hit with the harsh realization that no one gives a fuck about a 22-year-old jazz musician from the Pacific Northwest.
Thinking back to being in school there were so many red flags that I chose to ignore simply because I was under the impression that I was doing what I was meant to do. During this period I remember struggling with the drive to continue to play music. I was constantly searching for motivation, thinking to myself that this was no longer for me, and facing the inevitable pressure of trying to find a job and make a living.
Instagram was fairly new at the time and I started to get interested in photography. Fast forward a year I am graduating and I have roughly $120 to my name. That summer I took my $120 in spare change to the nearest electronics store and bought my first camera. I immediately drove to the coast and started taking pictures of anything and everything I could see. I didn’t care that the images sucked, I was finally creatively free. I was choosing to chase my curiosity and explore new mediums of self-expression that would eventually develop into a passion. Not following my “dreams” was the smartest decision I’ve ever made.
We should never tell anyone to deprive themselves of their dreams, as we are all entitled to be happy and have a “purpose”. But more often than not people fall into the idea of “if I follow my dreams I will never work a day in my life” and that is so wrong. There is a huge difference between following your dreams/passions and developing them. If you are feeling stuck and unsure of your path let go of the idea of what your passion is or was and stop pursuing things that your past self thought would make you happy. Instead of chasing your “dreams” try chasing your curiosity. You’ll be surprised at what you might discover.