Left dangling as I am over the edge of the adult world of employment, I find myself thinking a lot these days about the future, and about my priorities in life.
It all comes down to the question of happiness. Having been raised in an upper-middle class home, and being someone who generally enjoys pleasing aesthetics, good food, and the arts, I find it hard to imagine being happy in life without having sufficient money to be comfortably well off – to indulge in little luxuries, to have a beautiful home. I came to a decision a few years ago that I needed stability in my life, that I couldn’t bear the thought of not having a stable income. It’s not that I have any aspirations to have a super-high-paying job – and indeed, the life choices I have made so far haven’t exactly set me up for that lifestyle. But a stable career – a career in which I would be sure to make a certain amount.
But over the last year, something of the truth of life has struck me. And that truth is: life is really, really short. It is starting to seem to me that hours spent every day on something that I am less than passionate about are precious hours wasted in a short lifespan. I acknowledge that being able to turn a passion into a career is not something that is possible for everyone. But surely, at the age of 23, I should not yet be giving up on it.
I think the problem is that I have always been afraid to actually sit down and do the things I think I passionately want to do. Perhaps it is a fear of failure – a fear of not being able to achieve what I hope to achieve. When I was a child, I expected to have my first novel written before I turned 20 – but 20 came and went, and all I’d managed were some 3,000 words on a story that didn’t feel like it was going anywhere.
And following your passion is not easy. I am well aware that attempting a career as a writer or as an academic could lead to relative hardship, difficulty in acquiring a publishing contract or a position in a university, and potentially not enough money to be as comfortable in life as I might wish. But really, what should be more important to me? Should I really give up on my dreams before I even attempt to turn them into a reality, all just to avoid stress and acquire a stable income before I’m 25?
I am a qualified librarian now. I may not have as much work experience as may be needed to find a job in this environment, but I could very feasibly move into an internship and from there into a paid position in the next couple of years. And could potentially work in this company or area for the rest of my working life. It would make the other areas of my life easier – my social life, money issues, buying a house and raising a family in about 10 years’ time.
But would it make me happy?
Would I be satisfied with my life?
I’m not sure that I would be. And yet – I find it difficult to start doing those things about which I might become passionate. I have done some writing, and I have thought about my area in English literature and started playing with an idea. But it feels difficult, like wading through mud. And I think – will it get easier? Or is this really how it would be if I stuck to this path? A constant uphill struggle with my passions in life.
But the alternative looks less and less appealing to me. I’m not ready to settle for less in my life.