Do what you love while you’re still young.
It’s sincere advice coming from a good place, a loving place, but ultimately for me, misleading.
It suggests that this is the time, the only time, for us to explore and make mistakes—when we are young. There is the implication that eventually we will need to take responsibility and settle down with a career.
To all those well-meaning (though truthfully, misguided) advice-givers, I’d like to say, respectfully: I’m never growing old, if it means losing the ability to do what I love.
It may sound like an indignant proclamation from a member of the privileged, idealistic millennial generation. But with insecure job markets, the qualities of adaptability, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship are not as desirable as they are necessary.
The word “job” doesn’t carry the same weight for us as it did for previous generations. We are the ones creating and defining our careers. Success today depends not so much on stability and security, as much as it does on innovation and variation.
At the age of 27, I won’t say that I haven’t felt the pressure (admittedly, self-inflicted at times) to join the growing membership of the married and mothering among my friends. The same kind of pressure for long-term, exclusive commitment, I feel, has been applied to the job market.
We have been conditioned to feel like we need to choose a career like we choose a life partner—with as much discernment and death-do-we-part gravity. But I dare to defy this idea of career-monogamy.
There was a definite shift that happened for me once I passed the chasm of mid and ventured into the murky, mysterious waters of late-twenties. Others’ expectations and my personal values have become increasingly conflicted. Am I selfish and immature to approach my career path poly-amorously?
The thing is, like many in my generation, I value my youthful spirit. I take pride in my spontaneity. I am incredibly grateful for my family who has sacrificed so much to make my lifestyle possible; but I don’t feel the need to compromise my ideals for another generation’s standard of what a “career” looks like.
I may not be making millions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have more than what I need.
I may not be particularly attached to anyone or place at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I’m not grounded.
My life may be based on whimsy, rooted on uncertainty. It may be adventurous. It may be precarious at times. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Someday I imagine I will file away my passport, hang up my traveling shoes, and trade my carry-on luggage for a mortgage and maternity clothes. But I want to approach that season, and the rest of my life for that matter, with the same philosophy: I do what I love.
I want to live a life of passions, plural—acknowledging that those passions are subject to change, grow, and evolve. I want to be and do so many things, and I don’t want to feel limited by the idea that I have to settle for just one career for the rest of my life.
Call me career promiscuous, but I’m not settling for anything less.