Things I don’t understand: Follow Your Passion

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The other day, I realized that my parents never actually advised me to “follow my passions.” In fact, it often seemed that they would advise the contrary. An instance that jumps to mind was when I was confirming my final course choices for the International Baccalaureate (IB) in high school. All my classes had been accounted for, except for my seventh class, would I choose art or physics? Now it was apparent to my counselor that I wanted to choose art. I chose Physics. Why? Because my parents preferred knowing that I had a good solid ‘background’ which would keep doors open. It did come in handy later for my university science requirements, but beyond that I didn’t maintain much connections with physics after high school.

Now why am I mentioning this story? Once I got to Canada, I was suddenly being bombarded with messages dictating that I pursue happiness and that a job that isn’t related to my passion is a useless job. There is some truth to the whole “follow your passion.” I have worked—like many others—a job that I despised. I would dread going to work three days ahead of time (it was a part-time job) and I would count down the number of shifts until I quit. In fact, I also hate my current job and I am also thinking of quitting.  Having gone through these two experiences, I would never recommend someone to stick to a job that causes them great anxiety, misery and which they absolutely despise.

But, there are many jobs out that there are just “meh.”  As in they are okay. They aren’t bad but you are not absolutely in looooove with them. You might just like them.

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Once, I was speaking with a friend about my first contract, at Company A and when I explained what I did, she commented on how I didn’t seem enthused about it. Now this incidence did not happen only once … but thrice. I don’t get it! Am I supposed to do a song and dance when I speak about work? Is every single job I do supposed to be a dream job? For me, the answer is no. Meh jobs are good. Meh jobs are great when you are starting out a career.

On that note, I will be starting a series of posts on why I feel that “Follow your passion” is not necessarily the best piece of advice out there.

I’m back :)

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Ok, I have been gone for a minute; well not literally, because it is just another expression to say that I have not written in a while.  So where was I?

First off, I would like to apologize. There is a part of me that feels this crippling guilt for not updating this blog more frequently- not in fear that I was disappointing readers, but rather because I really want to use this blog as a platform to push my writing, and to a certain extent, my creativity, in a certain direction. Yet, there was this other part of me, the perfectionist me, that was afraid of uploading a post with less than perfect grammar. That was afraid that updating my blog meant putting less time into job-hunting and so that was afraid of so many more things.

Therefore, I am going to treat this blog as my personal challenge to become a better content creator, to un-learn the stodgy rules of academic papers and to rant about my ‘feels’ for unemployment. And I want to start by cleaning up the blog– posting the posts that I promised I would, learning to customize the design, learning the backend of the blogosphere, and most importantly, scheduling my posts.

In the past month, I have started yet another contract position, to explore the industry of agriculture (if confused, please check this post out). The first two weeks went well with me appreciating certain aspects of the job and disliking others. Somehow, this descended into a strong dislike for the position, and a persistent questioning of where I stand vis-a-vis my ambitious goals: “Look at X, Y, Z they got jobs in reputable places, doing reputable things while I am still stuck typing in data for this agriculture firm. What do I want to do with my life? Why am I not finding a permanent job? I need to push harder.”

After getting four of my wisdom teeth extracted last Thursday– oh yeah, that happened– and getting two sick days off, this Sunday evening I am toying with the idea of asking for yet another day off. Thoughts of Monday rolling around fill me with anxiety, a stress for too little time to wrap up random errands, and a dread for going back and punching numbers. I now realize that it may not be smart to talk about this publicly on the internets; thus, I shall stop there.

Of course, I want to mention that there are some things that I appreciate at my position, which is more adequately put in a list form:

  • I appreciate that I get paid the equivalent of an entry level marketing assistant’s yearly salary… for punching in numbers.
  • I appreciate the sorta-egalitarian treatment of the workers. Of course, as a contractor, taking personal time off, means catching up every single hour that was meant to be worked (like why!?!) BUT
  • Unlike organizations where I have previously worked, every worker had a security access card to the building that worked after-hours. Everyone has a work email and access to the programs that they need for free. You, as the worker, are provided with a work computer (yes, some organizations with big budgets don’t provide that). You are given the same swag as everyone else. You have an hour long lunch (I live for lunch breaks). Oh and you are paid.  Yes, I am talking about unpaid interns.

So that is it for me. I am saying good-bye to that attitude that kept me away from blogging. I think the last bullet point would make a good blogpost. What do you reckon?

Love, S.

The graduate | student divide

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So, I hesitated to write a post relating to this question. When I asked around my social group on whether I should post this or not, I got very mixed responses. I know this is a controversial topic and maybe I just took other people’s comments/questions too seriously. However, I feel that maybe there are other people out there who are facing the exact same issue.

Is there really a gap between recent graduates’ and students’ perceptions of employment? On the one hand, I feel that the answer should be no; we are from the same generation and we face the same problems of high expectations during university, unpaid internships, and more elusive entry-level opportunities . Furthermore, the majority of my friends are still completing their degrees and they have been really supportive while I am job-hunting.

On the other hand, personal experiences points to great differences between being a university student and an (un)employed (recent) graduate. Now, once again, I have friends who are still university students that they were extremely supportive. Nonetheless, I had many acquaintances/friends who really had a lot bitchassness. Yeah, I’m salty! And I want to write about this because I know I used to be one of those bitchass people when I met recent graduates.

Here are some sample bitchassery questions:

  1. Did you find a job yet?
  2. Have you applied to any jobs? Where? How many jobs have you applied to?
  3. What do you do all day? So you do nothing?
  4. I found a survival job in two weeks. What is taking you so long?
  5. Uhm, I don’t know. Network?
  6. Oh why don’t I try to talk to you about job opportunities that you have no interest in but never ask you what you actually want to do. (There is a difference between this and actually giving advice)

First, unemployment is a purgatory an experience that one needs to live through in order to understand. The implications of not finding a job are not the same when you are in university (no money, no money for tuition, nothing to put on resume, nothing to keep me busy for this period of 4 months) and when you have graduated (really nothing to keep me busy, bills, bills, loans, parents breathing down my neck about expenses, lower self-esteem).  So, unless you have witness, been through or are going through prolonged unemployment, it may be hard to make judgement calls.

As I mentioned before– and if I haven’t, I meant to mention this– I used to have a lot of bitchassness in me when speaking to recent graduates. Here are some tips to cure the bitchassness.

  • Don’t ask, “Have you found a job yet?” right before or right after “How are you?” In fact, don’t ask it at all.
  • Instead ask, “What have you been up to?” or “How are you?” Finding a job is very stressful and sometimes people are getting traction in their job searches but it is not manifesting as job offers. Or the simple fact that people are not defined by their jobs. Whether or not this person is currently employed, they still have a lot to contribute to your life and others’ communities. If you are looking to catch up, it may be better to ask open-ended questions and let them volunteer the information.
  • Unemployment is not equal to laziness. Some people think it is okay to ask you what you do all day– that’s rude. It is just rude. Often, people can’t find jobs not because, they are lazy or not trying hard enough; but because, their search has not yielded anything or they feel emotionally unmotivated.
  • Do take them out to do something. If this person is your friend, then now is the time to go take them out to do activities. It will probably allow the two of you to release tension from life. And of course, catch up!
  • Don’t give advice if you haven’t used it. Most of all, don’t be self-righteous about it. The guy who suggested that I did nothing while unemployed and that I should network, on the same night mind you, would probably struggle with networking. There are so many books written about networking and yet most people– even those, who are working– really dislike it. It is a struggle to understand how to make networking work for oneself. Don’t remind people of this lady.
  • Do listen. Let the person vent and take the time to understand their perspective. You don’t want to fall in the Bitchassery #6 category.
  • It is most likely that the graduate has applied to jobs online. Applying to jobs online has a low success rate and it is most of the times the first thing people do. So asking that question is, in my opinion, stupid.
  • Remember, people will always remember how you make them feel.

Ok, invisible readers, I think this blogpost is getting way too long but I hope that together we can stop the bitchassness pandemic and save relationships in the way.  Once again, this is not meant for everyone but rather for some people who do make people feel this way. I put plenty of links on the page, with information that will complement or contextualize the post. Hopefully, the comments don’t go crazy with hate/troll comments– but then who am I kidding? Almost no-one reads this blog. Shout out to my Japanese reader K <3.

That’s it from me. xox, S.

 

Edit: I wanted to add another do. Do connect people with other recent graduates or resources. Post-university life can strangely feel isolating and it is therefore, good to meet people facing the same challenges as you.