“Just do what you love and get paid for it.”
In an era of startups and venture capitalists, recent grads are surrounded with this message: Do what you’re passionate about and find someone to pay you to do it. As a millennial, I regularly see my peers, friends, and even myself, desperately searching for the “dream job.”
Here’s what helps me brush off the pressure of finding the dream job:
You don’t know what you don’t know
Here’s a crazy notion, at 22 (or 23 or 24 or 32) years old, you still have a lot of life and the world to discover inside and outside of your professional career. What if your dream job is something you have yet to discover? Or what if your dream job is something you don’t know you enjoy because you haven’t tried it yet?
Let’s stop thinking about a job as the end-all of our careers and one directional, but rather, see it as an opportunity to learn, be equipped, and gain novel experiences. You’ll be surprised how relevant a seemingly random project or skill can be. Your last job at a retail store could have taught you about customer-centricity and communication. Remember, there’s no such thing as gaining nothing out of a job, no matter how entry-level or far from your desired dream job the role is.
You’re allowed to be passionate about multiple things
This is the problem with the whole “do what you love” saying. Personally, I love hiking and backpacking in the summer. I also love traveling to explore new places and cultures. I love finding microfinance projects to support. And not to mention tacos and beer on the beach. Do I have to pick just one? And what if it doesn’t pay?
Innovation and creativity happens when we are well-rounded individuals who draw on unique backgrounds and experiences. Instead of withholding your passions, focus on developing them. Let the combinations of your different passions make you great at the work that does happen to come with a paycheck.
Pursuing a dream job is a privilege
If you’re reading this, you are educated, digitally connected, and therefore have access to innumerable resources. Take a moment to remember that there are many people who have the ability to dream, but will never have the chance to pursue those dreams. Whether that’s due to financial strain in a family, systemic oppression preventing access to education, the need to flee a war-torn country, or any one of myriad reasons.
Passion is great to have in your work, but so is simply having a great attitude and keeping an open mind for opportunities and experiences as they arise. Sometimes passion needs to be developed, and that takes time and patience.
Here’s my message to millennials: Dream jobs aren’t bad, but let’s try to slow down and maybe we’ll find that pieces of our dreams are right in front of us.