Why You Should Do What You Love

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I went to college for a program I didn’t really care for with one thing in mind: “I’ll use my income to fund my career as a writer and a musician.”

It seemed like a brilliant plan.

At the time, how was I to know I was telling myself heinous lies?

I actually thought I was quite progressive. Unlike everyone else entering the program, who had hoped to get jobs in the field and stay there, I had other dreams. I had hopes.

I had this feeling – maybe you’re familiar with it – this feeling that said “I’m meant to be somebody.” I always felt that way. I felt that I was destined for greatness. I thought, too, that only people who were specifically, uniquely destined for greatness thought this of themselves.

I’ll fast forward and tell you that my illusion was broken about a year ago in the middle of a Marianne Williamson audio tape (and again and again after actually asking people about it).

Back to my quest for a stable Plan B.

By the time I graduated, I’d forgotten my plan. It wasn’t that I gave up writing and music. I played every day. I wrote every day. No, it wasn’t that.

I had morphed into a perfect college graduate. All I wanted was a job in my field. Writing and music? Mere hobbies! Who could make a living with such things? (Especially a living that could re-pay the generous debts I’d accrued over my years in college).

I got a comfortable job and I sent off an application to do even more schooling.

Somewhere in-between, I met a wonderful man with whom I could sit in comfortable silences as well as passionately debate philosophy until the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, I was in love.

I’ll never forget what he said to me as I relayed to him some details of my university application process.

“Is that really what you want to do?” he asked me.

I froze.

“Want?”

It was a strange kind of word, the kind of word that we forget after years in formal education.

“Yeah, want,” he continued. “I just don’t see you as the type to wake up at 8:30, climb into your car, sit in traffic, work 9 to 5, go home. I just can’t see you doing that. You’ve got so much potential. You’ve got so much life.”

It was like he was speaking to that part of me that had been trying to quietly protest since the moment I entered college, a part of me that was shy, terribly insecure, and unwilling to raise its voice. That part of me was just waiting for validation.

“Well,” I said, “I always wanted to write a book. I always wanted to inspire people. I want to share my music with people. I want to change the world.”

“I believe that,” he answered.

We were on the phone, but I knew he was smiling.

It was a long journey from there. It was a long journey from my first little WordPress blog to my first book. It was a long journey from calling what I loved “hobbies” to quitting my day job to do them full time. It was an even longer journey from the girl who just wanted to feel safe to the woman who sacrifices comfort on a daily basis for the exhilaration of passionate, purpose-driven living.

Throughout this process, there were so many roadblocks. Looking back now, I realize that there was only
(and will always only) be one actual roadblock – fear.

Fear tells lies. Those lies keep people in jobs they hate or, at best, jobs they are indifferent to. Jobs that feel safe, even though they are so dangerous, because while you trade your hours for dollars, life fades away.

It was like I needed someone to give me permission to do what I loved.

I wrote two books before I met my partner and never, ever, showed them to anyone. I kept them on my computer, my head spinning with daydreams of someone hacking my computer and, as they were terrorizing my hard drive, discovering the books, coming to tears, and publishing them for me.

I just wanted someone to tell me I was good enough, but I never shared my work with people.

Even when I shared it, there was a strange emptiness. People all around me were giving me permission to leap into the face of what I wanted and yet, I felt insecure.

It wasn’t that I needed others to tell me I was good enough. I didn’t need validation. I didn’t really need permission. I didn’t need the economy to change for my ventures to be profitable. I didn’t need new skills or new plans (not yet, anyway).

What I needed was to give myself permission.

The difference between a person who’s living their dream life and a person who’s miserably pushing through their eternal Plan B is not skill, talent, practice, or circumstance.

If you look throughout history at some of the most successful people, you’ll find that they had the odds stacked against them. Steve Jobs dropped out of school. Einstein was thought to be mentally handicapped by his parents and teachers; then, he was kicked out of school.  Oprah was fired from a journalism job because she was “unfit for TV.”

These people didn’t have any special handouts that the rest of us didn’t get, but there is one valuable, gigantic difference between them and everyone else.

Those who live their dreams give themselves permission to believe, to try, and to persevere until they get to where they want to go.

Plan A and Plan B – they’re both an uphill battle. You just have to decide what kind of hill you want to climb. Will you climb the hill where you enjoy each step, unsure of what lies at the very top? Unsure, even, that you’ll even make it up all the way? Or, will you climb the hill where each step is dreadful torture eased simply by your hallucinations of what you “know” lies at the top of it?

If you told me I was going to die in a week, I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t imagine living a different life than I live now. Sometimes, when I think about it, I get twisted up wondering what would have happened to some of the people who found hope in my work, who said that I helped them realize they “weren’t alone.”

I wonder how many people are living half a life because you’re not out there inspiring them, simply by being yourself. I wonder how different the world could be if we all stepped into our passions and lived authentic, purposeful, and meaningful lives.

I’ve never met a person who wasn’t powerful. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t absolutely masterful at something (usually something they think no one cares about or that they “can’t” make money doing). I’ve never met a person who didn’t have a dream.

You have all the tools you need.

You have just as much time, passion, and skill as any successful person has ever had.

All that’s missing is that one tiny little permission form – from your logic to your heart – which will allow you to pass through the gates of fear, burn your Plan B, and dare to just be yourself.

Written on 1/18/2014 by Vironika Tugaleva. Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, people lover, reformed cynic, and a different kind of spiritual teacher. She helps people heal their minds and discover their inner strength. You’re invited to read more about Vironika and her inspiring book The Love Mindset.

Photo Credit: Greg Turner

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