At some point in your childhood someone probably told you that you can be whatever you want when you grow up and that you should believe in yourself and follow your dreams. If you grew up watching Nickelodeon and Disney movies, then this idea was pounded into your brain. You may have left high school full of great expectations only to discover that good jobs, let alone dream jobs, are hard to find. Not only that, but life is as expensive as possible, and employers pay as little as possible. So the reality of the world we live in is that most people don’t get to be too picky about what they do for a living.
If you ever complained to your elders about how hard it is to follow your passion, the same people who raised you on dreams, probably told you to suck it up and deal with it. That’s life. You’re not special. You’re not entitled to anything, and in order to be a mature, responsible adult you need to put your wants aside and perform your duties without complaint. They might have even gone on to say that self-sacrifice is a virtue that should be practiced daily.
Things being as they are, part of growing up is discovering that your elders lied to you, coming to terms with the real world and then deciding whether or not you should follow your passion or devote your life to being responsible. There’s no quick, easy answer to that question. Everyone is different, and the world isn’t black and white. No one can tell you what’s right for you, but common sense should tell you it’s probably a bad idea to take either option to their extreme.
It’s obvious that throwing caution completely to the wind to pursue a hobby that might never amount to anything is risky to the point of suicide. However, abandoning all your passion in the name of responsibility reduces you to a machine and arguably defeats the purpose of life. You’re here to be you. If you sacrifice everything you want and everything you are just so you can survive, there was no point in being here. In your obsession with survival you committed existential suicide.
There’s nothing morally wrong with being selfish enough to give your own life meaning and try to enjoy your brief, precious existence. Passion is important. Style is important. You’re not just entitled to know what you want out of life, you have a responsibility to fulfill your unique potential, which is greater than that of an self-subjugating automaton.
Sure, survival is vital, but if you think your only options in life are to either be a painter, singer, dancer or worker, then the problem is that your understanding of the world and your own soul are too narrow. In order to understand how you can fit into the world, the first thing you need to do is take a personality test, but understand that that test isn’t perfect. Take as many personality/aptitude tests as you can until you have a good idea of what your strengths, weaknesses and dispositions are.
People aren’t born with one skill inside of them that they’re destined and obligated to find and nurture. Within your personality type there are hundreds, if not thousands of occupations that would bring you deep personal satisfaction. Even if the oppressive nature of our economy prevents you from spending all day every day playing, you should still get as close to your goal as possible. Then, in your free time, you should work as relentlessly as possible to overcome the obstacles between you and your chosen destiny.
Giving up on your dreams isn’t mature. That’s quitting. It’s self-imposed failure. The fact that life is tough isn’t a good reason to give up your dignity and accept a life of meaningless toil. You’re going to have to make sacrifices in life. That’s a given. You’re going to have to make some kind of compromise between passion and duty, but the important thing is to only compromise as much as you absolutely have to and make your sacrifices/compromises count.
If there’s anyone out there who believes that’s too much for the younger generation to expect out of life, then the problem isn’t that the younger generation is spoiled. The problem is that we’re so used to living in a wage slave-based economy we can’t imagine any other way, and our definition of maturity is inextricably ingrained in that world view. The solution to the existential despair that comes from living in an economy that prioritizes money over people isn’t for young workers to hurry up and die inside. The solution is to build a more humanitarian economy.
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