Growing up, I was reminded of the saying, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” My parents instilled this message in me and encouraged me to pursue a career that would make me happy for the rest of my life. For my parents, a career is something you love. But for others, a career is simply a way to make money.
As children, you may have been asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers varied, but often consisted of doctor, teacher, rockstar or artist. None of those answers appealed to me.
I knew early on my math and science skills were not enough to get me through medical school. I had little patience, so being a teacher was definitely out. I was not creative or musically gifted enough to become an artist or a rockstar. I found my passion in something else.
I wanted to write and I wanted to tell stories. Journalism was my calling.
Something many saw as a difficulty to pursuing journalism was the money. I believed this was not something to be afraid of because I was following my dream, but for some people in my life, this was a major issue. They looked down on me because of my career choice, reminding me every time I spoke about my love for journalism that I would make no money.
Why would you choose journalism? That is not a real career; you need to make money in order to have a real career. Where will you live? How will you provide for your family? Do you want to be homeless? What is your backup plan? How do your parents feel about you living at home for the rest of your life?
The negativity surrounding my career choice and the lack of support from those around me made me second guess my decision to pursue journalism. Even though I loved it, the pessimistic views of my choices and my own overthinking created a perfect home for unhappiness to grow. It seemed I had forgotten the phrase that helped point me in the direction of journalism in the first place.
My parents noticed how torn I was, but they never let me forget that quote. They reminded me as often as I needed that a career does not have to be about the money because money does not always mean happiness. Growing up, I saw both ends of the spectrum through my mom and dad. My mom knew for many years nursing was her dream and she pursued it relentlessly, despite her own family. Today, she lives her passion through instructing future nurses and continuing her own education in her doctorate program for nursing education.
My dad did not have the same outcome. He loved film, photography and planned to reflect that love through a college degree. After a rough first try at college, he went back to school, but this time for accounting.
While he is good at his job and well respected in his field, his true passion and complete happiness lies with his love of film and photography. Because of his experience, he pushed me to believe that what mattered the most was I loved what I was doing, despite the school and post-graduation struggles.
I found daily reminders of this simple phrase helped to push away the negativity and doubts. I remembered what my parents told me through the years, a career is not simply about the money, but how happy it will make you in the end.
If I had dropped journalism and pursued a career to make more money or to satisfy those who did not approve of my career, I believe I would spend my adult life regretting my decision. I had a choice when I imagined my future. I could either wake up each day, go to work, never truly loving what I do or I could wake up and go to the job that made me smile and pushed me to be the best version of myself.
When I work in The Journal newsroom, at my journalism internship, or see my name on a byline, I find I am constantly smiling, laughing and it never truly feels like work. To me, this is the essence of doing something you love. I love what I do more and more every day, and the last thing I think about is the money.
I fully believe a career does not need to be a choice based on income alone. Each person has their own individual passion, but it is up to each individual to follow it. Some find their passion in engineering, medicine, science or art. Me, I found my passion in journalism, and no amount of criticism and negativity from those around me could possibly change that.