Archive for October, 2015

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”– Confucius

All through primary school, it feels as though teachers, parents, counselors, and relatives encourage children to believe that they can be whatever they can want to be. They organize dress up days where they learn about, explore, role play different careers: today be a nurse, tomorrow a firefighter. There is rarely a limitation on those dreams- kids can dream without being the smartest, the fastest, or whatever gender. Students open their arms and their minds to all the possibilities without concern for if they are qualified or how much the career makes. So what happens? How does this change when we get older? Why do we stop dreaming?

Blame it on high school testing, possibly, and what college one gets into, and what programs within that college at that. Everything seems dependent on ability as well as experiences.  The author of Outliers. Malcolm Gladwell, says “We cannot be separated from where we are from.” Are we limited or blessed based on parental influences, type of community, or even the school we get into? Or can we bypass all these societal limitations and just follow our hearts to happiness?

One of the keys to happiness is just that: following our hearts, filling our lives with the things that we love, that make our days feel more like play than work. This was true when we were children, but why cannot this be true for us now as adults? I am thinking now of my goddaughter, in her first years of college, and wondering what is limiting her, what messages are being sent to her that she doesn’t deserve to have her dream life or “be” the person she has always wanted to be. As a child, I was told I could be anything…as long as it made good money and didn’t embarrass the family. To an extent, I still agree with this, but what dreams I followed were limited because the deeper message was this- that which you love to do (write!) won’t earn you the money you need, so do something else.

As I earned my undergraduate degree, I threw aside the scowls and went for a degree in English literature (with an emphasis on creative writing) and a minor in cultural anthropology. I love both immensely, so studying felt like exploring the world (and myself) and I know I became a better human at graduation than when I was an entering freshmen. And to add to this, I became more passionate about writing, reading, and human culture. I swore I wouldn’t be a teacher because my true passion was just writing. After a time I caved, I gave in to an ill mother’s request to do what the rest of the family did and I earned my masters of education degree. Overall the experience of teaching has been a blessing. Students, in general, are uplifting, a gift, funny, insightful, and inspire me with their hard work. I never had the chance to have children although I wanted them so badly: teaching is my way of having kids, in a sense. For that brief time I teach your child, I treat and love them as though they were my own. But there are times this career hasn’t been so wonderful.

At ten years of teaching, I knew I needed more, not only professionally but personally, too. I needed my passions to be reignited, my passions for writing, snowboarding, mountain biking, just being active and outdoors. I didn’t write much anymore since there was little time after coaching and grading and sleeping. Teaching creative writing classes helped, but the flame still sputtered and needed more air. Volunteering for ski patrol at the local hill helped ease my pain to snowboard all the time, but the desert isn’t the best place for a ski hill of great magnitude. Eventually, I moved schools and my life to Utah. Much to my dismay, I ended up at a school that as I say semi-jokingly “ate my soul.” I was miserable and tried to make it through three years of professional torture, all the while thinking about writing, obsessing over “someday.” Again, I was still tumbled in a world that didn’t really allow me to follow my passions, especially my passion for teaching. This flame was almost completely doused by weird expectations and commands that were devoid of educational purpose.

Someday finally came. I left the school (though not on good terms) and found a job as a part time teacher at a school that spoke my language (as the kids were all snow athletes), and started my own job as a part-time freelance writer. I teach April to November so my “summers” are actually “winters” off, which means my other great passion of snowboarding is really possible. Like, every day possible. I set my own schedule for writing so if I don’t feel like working, I don’t, or I might flip day hours for night hours if I want to mountain bike all day during the day.

Here is where my point is: my life as I wanted it to be finally came true, 25 years after I started dreaming about it. It would have happened sooner if I had just followed my heart. Though I have been reminded that all our experiences end up creating who we are at this exact moment, I know I would have enjoyed starting off with my dream life. All that said, I’m blessed to have it now. Though I do not make much money, I do enjoy and love the students I have, the ability to write for money, and the freedom to enjoy the life I have always wanted snowboarding, mountain biking, climbing, or napping almost whenever I desire. Living a life where I can follow and embrace my passions is what makes me happy.

Therefore, to have happiness, follow your heart, and dream big dreams. As the saying goes, “if your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.” Go forth and live passionately!


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