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Why You Shouldn’t Choose a Practical Career

And why you should follow your dreams


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The Why Girl

3 years ago | 5 min read

When I was a little girl, I was convinced I would become a painter when I grew up.

The formula I used to work that out with was very simple: pick the thing you like doing the most and that’s the thing you should spend your life doing.

But then life “happened”.

I went to school and I learnt that jobs primarily needed to provide financial security and that art was not exactly a money-making enterprise.

I learnt that things like music, painting and writing are important, but nowhere near as important as types of soil or dates of battles of the second world war that I would memorise and then forget right after my test.

I also sensed that I needed to make my mind up about my career sooner, rather than later, because my choices of school subjects at the age of 13 would impact which high school I could go to and that, in turn, would determine the university degree I could apply for 6 years later.

In short, I was taught to be practical and to plan ahead so I don’t miss my life up by pursuing a dreamy career that would leave me constantly broke and unable to enjoy my life.

Something didn’t feel right in this calculated and soul-less process of choosing my career solely by its financial potential and security.

That’s precisely what I did.

I started trading my dreams of an art school in one of the European capitals and the bohemian loft where I would spend hours painting, for something more concrete, predictable and money-making.

There was a dentist, an architect and even a lawyer (to please my mum and follow her steps) but I wasn’t really sold on any of these prospects.

Something didn’t feel right in this calculated and soul-less process of choosing my career solely by its financial potential and security.

So, when the time to choose my university came, I went for a subject broad enough not to pigeonhole me into one job that I would have to do for the rest of my life and I chose something I still enjoyed: a foreign language.

However, not just any tongue my heart desired but the second most widely spoken language in the world at the time (which I googled) so it still had some earning potential.

This is how I ended up studying Spanish.

I tried to add economics into the mix to increase the financial security factor but that was a total mistake which cost me so much in mental health that wasn’t worth the lucrative monetary return in the future.

I dropped economics as soon as I could and continued racing through my university years not really knowing what I was racing toward.

Until I went to a job fair and found out that being an interpreter for the European Union (EU) is a solid career that paid well. Immediately, the EU became the new goal.

I ended up like most of us who followed this broken formula of practicality we had picked up from our concerned parents, outdated educational systems or production-oriented societies.

Now, the ironic thing is that I didn’t end up doing any of these jobs, except for a short episode of interpreting in Wales, far from any of the EU institutions.

Instead, I ended up like most of us who followed this broken formula of practicality we had picked up from our concerned parents, outdated educational systems or production-oriented societies.

I ended up graduating not prepared for any job, in a city which was deprived of career opportunities in my field. I ended up working in unhealthy environments which sapped the life out of me, consumed all my time, taught me little and paid the bare minimum.

I eventually moved to a place where many migrate to with their desperate dreams that didn’t work out in places where they would actually like to live in.

In this new city, which eventually also consumed me, I found myself accepting the first job that the recruiter offered me.

I didn’t understand what the position was about and I had to use Google search again to find out what the heck I was supposed to be doing.

It didn’t matter, though, because the role sounded responsible and it was for a “big, international company with many opportunities for progression” (a cliché yet incredibly juicy bait for a graduate) — which spoke practicality, stability and financial security to me; all the things I was subconsciously seeking.

“Finally, I’m on the career ladder! It will only be easier from now on.” — I thought to myself.

It took me five years, suppressed anxiety, recurring insomnia, regular migraines and a six-month solo trip to understand that practical career choice sucks and, in most cases, doesn’t work.

I finally understood that a happy employee who wants to do her work and who can use her true talent is the best employee you can imagine.

Whether what makes you happy or what you consider your talent is driving a lorry, writing poetry or working out the trajectory of the next spaceship going to Mars.

I started to believe that instead of asking ourselves “what would be the practical and wise choice?”, we should answer different types of questions, like these:

1. What kind of lifestyle do I want to have and what careers will support it?
2. What do I enjoy doing and what are my talents? Do I want to use these at work?
3. How can I bring value to others (and even the planet), whilst not compromising my own happiness and creating value for myself?

In fact, I now deeply believe that if we brought more organicity, intuition, fun and ourselves into creating our careers, and ultimately our lives too, financial abundance will follow.

Because we all deserve to live abundant lives and the more we have, the more we can give to others who, in turn, can create even more. It’s a wonderful cycle.

If you’re deciding about your career, ditch practicality and put your needs first. If you have a career that makes you happy, cherish it and be an inspiration for others.

And if you hate your job, remember that you don’t have to be unhappy and that change can start simply by asking yourself “Do I want to do this?”. Don’t be afraid of the answer.

It can be the beginning of something good.

This article was originally published by The Why Girl on medium.

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The Why Girl

Hopeless idealist who believes that we all can live our ultimate lives. Currently on a mission to design hers & sharing her journey on YouTube as The Why Girl: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGZY18kYHfOkMxg46tt8uIw?view_as=subscriber


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