Stereotypes: Chasing Your Passion

For many of us, chasing your passion is a trade-off for practicality. If society deems your passion as practical, you may have avoided this dilemma. But most of us reach a point where we are faced with two seemingly conflicting options: be practical or chase your passion. “Chasing your passion is impractical” is a stereotype we are too familiar with.

To assess the validity of this stereotype, we started a conversation surrounding “passion.” We interviewed three sources: each at a different stage in his or her life. 

Student: Sabrina Hartono

3rd year student at Claremont McKenna College studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE)

LinkedIn | Portfolio

1) Do you think pursuing your passion is practical? 

When people (and especially parents) tell us that our “passions” are not “practical,” I think it is better thought of in terms of “profitability” (benefits). It depends on one’s passion. Sure, there are many stereotypes of interests that are more profitable than others, but the world is evolving so much that there seems to be a market for everything now. I think that the question should be more about how you want to pursue your passion (rather than whether or not you are) that can help us better decide if it is worthwhile.

2) Are you pursuing your passion? 

Recognizing the importance of having more certainty about my future plans, I don’t think I can say that I am pursuing my passion in the way that most people talk about pursuing their career plans. However, that doesn’t mean that I ignore my passions and interests completely. I involve myself in, and engage with, projects that align with my passions and run them in tandem with building skills necessary for a “more stable career.”

3) Do you think it’s worth it?

It’s been more than worthwhile. I think having a passion has been important to help me ground myself in how I carry out my daily activities (and my “non-passion” work!). It’s also allows me to refocus and realign myself to avoid getting burned out.

Recent Graduate: Dave Sebastian

Breaking News Intern at Wall Street Journal, Boston University 2019 Graduate (Journalism + Economics)
Linkedin | Twitter | Portfolio | Profile

1) Do you think pursuing your passion is practical? 

It isn’t always. It isn’t always as glamorous as the romanticized depictions in popular culture of your desired project or profession. Sometimes you need to do the grunt work or other mundane aspects of your job to climb the ladder onto bigger, more impactful projects. Sometimes you need to clock in extra hours to get to where you want to be. And sometimes you need to give up social engagements when duty calls — prioritization is key. (But of course, mental health is important, and self care is as important as hard work.) 

I know I’m pursuing my passion when I’m challenged. The way I overcome those challenges is by throwing myself into the scene, even when I feel unprepared, and seek help along the way. But having said that, if something feels too easy, it’s time to move on and look for other opportunities for growth. 

2) Are you pursuing your passion? 

Yes, I am. As a reporter, I’m driven by the fact that my work contributes to a functioning democracy. I’m passionate in telling complex stories in simple terms and compelling ways, in holding institutions accountable.

3) Do you think it’s worth it?

Yes, it was, though I’d tell my freshman-year self to be more relaxed in the face of adversity. I find challenge to be mandatory to growth. So if it’s easy, it’s time to move on.

Professional: Brea Salim

Content Marketing Manager at Instagram, Barnard College 2017 Graduate (Economics + English)
LinkedIn | Portfolio

1) Do you think pursuing your passion is practical? 

Clearly it depends on the passion and the person chasing it.

For myself personally, it was a practical decision to find jobs that allow me to write because I can’t possibly think of spending my days any other way aside from writing. If I had, I think I’d be miserable and wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Now, figuring out how to financially provide for myself while writing definitely took a while, but I saw that as part of the process as making the pursuit of my passion realistic. 

So the short answer to that would be: yes, if you can make the pursuit of whatever your passion is work for your unique circumstances. But it’s up to every person to figure out – the path is different for everyone. 

2) Are you pursuing your passion? 

In a sense, yes. If we were to define my passion simply and purely as writing, then yes. I work as a content marketer in Instagram and write content everyday for our marketing collateral. I’m a big believer of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule so the way I see it – writing at this job is part of that. 

But truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of the word ‘passion’. I once heard an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert talking about how people often liken passion like fire, but that means it doesn’t always stay burning and it changes shape all the time. Instead, she recommends for people to pursue their curiosities – this way, you’ll have an interesting life by the end, exploring all that you were curious about. And I think that’s what I’m doing: working in tech as a content marketer was never something I dreamed of doing growing up, but it was something that intrigued me as I was learning about jobs that allowed me to write in the Bay Area. But who knows where my curiosity will take me next? 

3) Do you think it’s worth it?

In my case, yes it was.

Stereotypes is part of a bi-monthly series where we will interview 3 individuals at different life stages and ask for their opinion on a chosen stereotype.

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