Last year about this time, I was pontificating to graduates about setting realistic expectations and telling them to get used to a world that is going to try to beat them down. Of course, I surrounded those nuggets of sage advice by further suggesting that a good dose of lounging by the pool should precede any attempt to dive right into the workplace.
For the record, I still stand by that last bit of advice.
Now, as for the other bit of advice — the part where I told last year’s graduating class to prepare for a pummeling at the hands of a cold, cruel world.
Ignore it. That’s right. Don’t listen to me or anyone else who might want you to believe your dreams are quixotic. Side note: I could have used a more common word to describe your unrealistic desires, but since I’m speaking to people with diplomas, I figured it would be OK to throw in the literary reference.
The fact is, I believe you can achieve anything you want provided you are willing to answer a fairly simple question for yourself: “What is it that you are most passionate about?”
In order to find real success and happiness in your life, and to silence once and for all the knuckleheads like me who tell you the world is against you, this is one of the questions you will need to know.
Rest assured, you don’t have to come up with the answer right now. And you may not make this discovery until you’ve gone down a few roads. But eventually, you will find something that doesn’t feel like work to you. That something will simply feel right. It will make you happy. It will not require a herculean effort to get you up in the morning.
If that sounds unrealistic, let me offer you a real-world example — me. The one thing that I am most passionate about is writing. I love writing this column. I love writing my own works of fiction. I love writing just about anything. I could do it every day and it would never seem like work to me even though at times it can be quite challenging. But in my mind, those are two different things altogether.
My other jobs are merely ways to make money, and as such they are not completely satisfying, even though I am good at them. But I believe that life has to be about more than being good at something. We can all plod along being “good enough.” But eventually that feeling will gnaw at you, and you may find yourself wondering how it is that you ended up with a decent job, a comfortable life and an ulcer from all the stress of suppressing your inner voice.
I tell my youngest daughter that is the reason I continue to pursue my dream of being a writer. Because the most important thing in life is to be passionate about what you are doing. That will lead you to be truly exceptional at it, and it will be effortless. Over time, it will lead to a life of abundance. That is the most important part of life’s adventure. And the beginning of the journey traces back to that one little question …
“What is it that you are most passionate about?”
Right now, the world is yours for the taking. I am speaking as the voice of experience when I say that you are the only person in the universe who can prevent you from achieving your dream. Everyone else’s doubts about you are just their perceptions, and they don’t define you. Trust me on this. I’ve lived many years listening to the negative perceptions of friends and relatives. Anyone who says you’ll never make it is merely projecting their own fears onto you. Don’t listen to your naysayers.
Have faith in yourself. By graduating, you just accomplished something pretty cool. With that in mind, there’s absolutely no reason in the world to even consider that you won’t find the thing you are passionate about and be successful, right? Remember the lesson you learned in grade school. Stop. Look. And listen. Not to the voices outside that tell you it can’t be done, but to the one inside that urges you to go for it!
If you do, you will make the world a better place, and perhaps, instead of being that person who tells others how hard it is to make it in this world, you will be an inspiration to others by showing them how truly easy it can be to live an amazing life if only you are willing to follow your passion.
GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.