It is generally believed that the magic for success lies in doing what you love. While the contention against this theory has mostly been ‘what if the relished dream can’t pay the bills?’ I’ve personally been asking myself a different question lately; what if one fails to identify that one thing they want to do for the rest of their life?
I lost the closest thing to a dream I’d ever had back in 2004 when I had to select the subjects I would take at my A’ Level. Having been thrown into the arts class, the director of studies swore to my mom that her son was never going to be moved to the science class. Up until then, I was convinced, contrary to my grades, that I was more of Physics, Chemistry and Biology kind of person; a fantasy that could possibly have been drummed into my head from an impressionable age.
Even with all distinctions in the Arts and a wash of credits in sciences, my dream was to become a doctor; and like anyone who suckled the same breasts that I did, the rule was you either take sciences, or you risked a lifetime of destitution. But because the teachers prioritized academic excellence over parents’ arts-phobia, my mom was remorselessly advised to either accept the arts combination I’d been given, or consider finding another school for her little Einstein.
Because of the friends I had in my school and the attachment I had to the scripture union, I would never consider changing schools, not even for an inviting science combination; but then the moment I lost my
mother’s dream of becoming a doctor, my life went on auto pilot.
By the time I left high school, the idea of becoming a lawyer had never crossed my mind. But because I couldn’t think of a more alluring course for an arts student, I casually embraced the idea of staking 5 years of my life pursuing a profession for which I honestly didn’t feel a glint of interest but for its prospect of amassing wealth. I was lucky to finish the degree and the grueling Bar course successfully and even got a job, but if there’s anything the last 1 year I’ve worked as an advocate has revealed to me, it’s the fact that I’ll walk away from this profession as soon as I can afford to.
I look around office and everyone seems to be happy with what they do. But at my desk, I sit pensively wondering why I’m the only one who feels like they’re trapped 200 feet down in a coal mine shaft. I hate my job, right from the smothering dress code to the pretentious archaic jargon. But the one thing I hate more than my life snuffing job is the fact that I still haven’t figured out exactly what I would rather do.
For the past 10 months, since I discovered this new hobby, writing has been my sanctum, the crack through which I slip away from this tacky legal plane for a momentary nirvana. On many occasions, I’ve flirted with the elating idea that perhaps this is it, the answer to my life long quest. But how can I be sure? I’ve only done this for a couple of months.
As exciting as it all feels right now, I have bills to pay and writing is such a lazy concubine when it comes to that, at least with my little experience. Though this lackluster job helps me meet them, I ache for every minute of my time that I dedicate to its insatiable demands. I barely have time left to taste any other waters.
Just the other day I stumbled onto ‘ You’ve got to find what you love,’ a speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University back in 2005. This guy was speaking to me; he said
“You’ve got to find what you love…Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
That’s where I pause and ask myself, how much longer do I have to look? How will I even identify what I’m looking for having run through a list of infatuations already? Perhaps I need to give my job a little more time and work harder at my attitude towards it. But how much harder do I have to try if the last year of trying has only yielded this much misery?
Posted on Reader’s Cafe Africa