Pick Your Pleasure

The other day I heard a story about a young college student who is doing her degree at a very competitive university. Not only is she working hard and is getting near perfect grades, but she’s got an excellent job in her field and has already held several impressive internships. Does that sound like someone with a bright future? On paper this girl has everything going for her but the reality is that she is miserable and depressed. Life seems empty for her. She feels hopeless and alone. And she’s just barely 20 years old.

It turns out that the field this young lady is studying is not what she thought it would be. Although she’s more than capable of doing the work, she doesn’t like the other people on her course or the people she’s worked with in her various internships and jobs. The values and culture in her chosen field feels wrong and completely out of sync with who she truly is. Her parents have invested heavily to get her where she is, so there is a certain amount of pressure from that corner for her to push through to being “successful”. And truthfully, the chances are very high that she’ll be hired in the field one day. She’ll probably end up with the good salary, the house, the husband, the kids…

But what about happiness and fulfillment? Is that something that comes later on in life (for us or for our kids), or should that be a priority in the “now”? None of us is guaranteed a certain amount of time here on earth, and the more time we spend living someone else’s idea of success and happiness the less time we have to follow our true purpose and calling. Does it take courage to figure out what you truly want and then to pursue it? Absolutely.

In the case of this young lady would making a shift mean that she would risk disappointing and possibly alienating her family? That is a very real possibility and one that is not to be taken lightly. Of course this type of decision is one that everyone ultimately has to make for him or herself.

While it is true that following a passion or purpose may not immediately bring the same monetary rewards that going a more traditional route will, more frequently than not those rewards do ultimately come. And when you weigh the cost of living a life that is out of alignment with your true self, at least for me the value proposition quickly skews in the other direction, especially as constant “dis-ease” with a situation often manifests in physical and mental illness.

At the end of the day happiness is up to each and every individual and at some point you do have to become proactive in shaping your destiny. Because, if you don’t do that you end up with someone else’s idea of the perfect life and that very rarely is how anyone actually wants to design their life.

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