You Don’t Have to Marry Your Career

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One of the disillusioning parts of growing older is realizing how many lies and part-truths our society feeds us. Christopher Columbus did not discover the Americas, cracking your knuckles doesn’t cause arthritis, Thomas Edison did not discover electricity on his own– and guess what? You don’t have to marry your career.

You don't have to marry your career

Break free from the track set for us

Most people follow the same basic road map from kindergarten through high school and college. Go to school, pick a field that you are good at and pays well, stick to it, major in it in college, get a job, stay there until you retire, die of old age.

I’m not sure why anyone expects teenagers and twenty-somethings to pick what they want to do and stick with it for a lifetime.

It’s a ridiculous expectation that the you in high school will be the same you as a 25 year old, and stay that way to 35, 45, 55, and so on. I don’t even have the same favorite color in high school, let alone have the same dream job.

Save the life long commitment for people, not a job. Don’t marry your job.

What on earth do I want to be?

In elementary school I wanted to be a roller coaster engineer. I discovered that meant lots of complicated math, so I decided instead that I would work for Travel Channel as one of those people who have a show about extreme roller coasters and theme parks.

Honestly I don’t know why I ever went away from this idea, to be honest. 

Middle school me wanted to be a movie director.

When I reached high school I went between neuroscientist to pediatrician.

In college I had no clue, but I majored in biology because it seemed like a smart choice.

Half way through I majored in Communication.

In 2018 I graduated with a B.S. in Communication.

I’m not even sure what I want right now. I’m just starting to be okay with that.

I used to manage a coffee shop in college, and I loved it. Now I work in television news. I enjoy where I am now, but I know that will change and eventually I will be ready to explore something new. 

‘Til retirement do we part?

Here’s the truth of the matter– you don’t have to marry your career. And nor should you. If you love what you are doing right now, but won’t in several years– that’s okay!

It’s also okay to not like the career you are in even if it’s a “great opportunity.” Money certainly matters, but so does your sanity.

Exploration is how we learn ourselves. We need to try things, learn from them. Committing to a singular career daunts me. That’s overwhelming pressure to pick a lifelong career, and we expect most people to figure it out by their mid-twenties, or even earlier. We don’t even expect people to marry other people by that time, let alone a career field. 

Some people find what they love and they pursue that job type for most of a lifetime. That’s fantastic if they find fulfillment in that. For many of us, I bet, that’s imposed on us because it’s been ingrained in our our upbringing.

The Olden Days

It made sense, historically. The average person died much younger in centuries passed and the likelihood of death by disease sat much higher.

For a successful community, people needed to stick to something. Imagine if the local farmer decided to go to art school? What’s everyone going to eat?

Presently, our population vastly increased since the 18 and 1900s. Modern medicine led to longer lives and fewer disease related fatalities. If someone decides to change careers, the ripple effect effects very few in the grand scheme of a community.  

It’s okay to not know exactly what you’re doing

You may move around while you search for work that fulfills you. It’s sort of like dating, but for your career. Don’t think that at 18 or 24 you need to choose a life path. You may find something you want to stick with eventually. For some that happens early, for others it happens never. Be open to the experiences, and enjoy the ride.

I don’t believe in finding your dream career. Life is about exploring. It’s about trying something new. I’m not the type of person who can work one job for 20 plus years.

We change as we age. Our interests don’t remain the same. Our passions also shift. We usually aren’t passionate about one thing our whole life (and if you are, good for you.)

I hope I’m never trapped in a job I don’t like for ever. I understand the importance of suffering short term to get to where you want to go. We all got bills to pay and the fun jobs aren’t just handed out. Sometimes we have to work a cruddy job. My advice is don’t settle there. Start there, work through it, but keep pressing towards what you want. And if that may eventually change, just know that is acceptable.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: you do not have to marry your career!

Find something that makes you happy, but be open to it not years down the road.

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