The British American Dream.
Don’t let careers advisers shit on yours.
We are growing up in an exciting and challenging world. Britain, in particular, provides us with a safe and comfortable platform to day dream, think and innovate. When I graduated, I moved abroad. I have discussed (and joked) endlessly to friends from all around the world about their and my respective countries and cultures. Aside from discovering that French people think we eat Jelly for dessert every day, I have discovered that as young Brits, we really do grow up with a mini American Dream mentally of ‘you can be whatever you want to be’.
This American dream however is met with various sceptics and realities along the way. As a young teenager, you regularly get asked what you want to be when you’re older. ‘Mum, I’m gunna be a singer’. At 13 years old, this seems so exciting. At 16, you have your first careers advice session, and the mini American Dream reality doesn’t seem to be reflected in the face of the career advisor. She sits there across the table, rolls her eyes and tells you the music industry is extremely difficult to get into, most people fail and you should think about something with a higher chance of actually making money. At 17, UCAS deadlines are on the horizon, “choose a well-respected degree”, they all tell you. In your early 20’s you’re nearing graduation and the pressure to ‘succeed’ and get on a graduate scheme means that you see your musical career slipping away as a laughable dream. You settle for singing in the shower, you need to get a ‘proper job’.
Let’s go back, let’s take that little girl who’s passionate about music at 16 years old, and allow her to explore all the career options out there. Is she aware that she could work in music production, composition, radio, journalism, marketing, or artist management? Is she aware that she could travel the planet looking for the world’s next big star? Is she aware that she could study Computer Science so that she could make a music streaming app for smart phones? Probably not. Unfortunately, most of us get pigeon holed into doing something steady, reliable with a high chance of ‘success’…whatever that means.
Identify and continue evaluating your passions then believe in yourself like your life depends on it.
With that belief you will have that fire inside you to make things happen, you will want to hang out with energetic people and you will realise that it’s possible. There are people out there living their dreams. There are many people who genuinely love their jobs. And there is absolutely no reason why you cannot be one of them. I really mean that. If I can do it, so can you.
No teacher, parent or careers advisor should ever tell you exactly which job you should or shouldn’t do in the future.
How do they know what makes you tick? How do they know what will make you get out of bed everyday for the rest of your life? You probably don’t even know yourself yet, and that’s what’s so exciting! An average person spends 80,000 hours of their life at work. 80,000 hours!! Can you imagine what that is like if you hate your job, or even if you think it’s just about alright. Picture doing 4 hours of something that really bores you. Then times it by 20,000. Inspired? I didn’t think so. Use those 80,000 hours to do something that excites you. We only get one shot at this life, it’s as cringey as your uncle trying to twerk, but you are the YOLO generation! You have 80,000 hours to explore, try out, test, learn, observe and evolve. You are part of the generation of entrepreneurs, sustainability, global awareness and post-economic crisis. You are also part of the generation where travel has never been so easy and so cheap. If you want to work in the music industry, go for it. If you want to be a travel blogger, go for it. If you want to work in a refugee camp, go for it. If you want to run a safari park, go for it. Because if you want it enough, you can make it happen. And if it doesn’t work out so many other doors will open along the way, leading you to exciting opportunities that you might have never thought about. If it doesn’t work out, at least you can say that you tried.
We are growing up in a totally different world to our parents and to our grandparents. People are earning a living in totally new industries. People now have careers in renewable energy, blogging and corporate social responsibility. There are people paid to play with pandas, test water park slides around the globe and to travel the world tasting chocolate. Researchers study the effects of climate change on the penguin population of the Antarctic and film producers now work with cutting edge technology to produce special effects in films that are shown in cinemas in every corner of the globe. During our grandparents’ generation, people chose careers for life. Now, we can make it up as we go along, chopping and changing, cutting out the bits we don’t like and adding more of the stuff that we do like. Our career opportunities are so broad that it can be overwhelming.
The whole world is our oyster. We should never forget that this is an incredible luxury…and it’s up to you to decide what you do with this luxury.
Your career should be like a puzzle, combining passions from different areas of your life. If you’re not sure what your passions are yet, do not panic! The only way you’ll find out is by getting out there into the real world and trying out stuff. I didn’t really have any passions until my gap year when I got out there and saw the world. As a 26-year-old graduate who has spent the last two years living in the Indian Ocean, I am telling you that your dreams ARE possible. I have met so many inspirational people, in jobs that really mean something to them, many of whom have set up their own businesses because their perfect job didn’t exist. On the other hand, I have also spoken to many people working in jobs they are not enjoying. “I’m so jealous”, they say, when they hear that I will be moving to Malawi to manage a travel company. By fulfilling what you love, you will automatically be in the ‘inspirational’ group and not the ‘jealous’ group. You should never let anyone stop you from accomplishing what you want to do. Opportunities are everywhere; you have got to keep your eyes and ears open to them. Years down the line, we will all end up reflecting back on our lives, don’t ever forget this. Get perspective. Travel. Meet people from different cultures, who speak different languages. Eat food from around the world. Work abroad. Learn. Discover. Live. Today, more than ever, anything is possible if you just believe in yourself and trust your passions.
The Cool Graduate is a platform of inspiration for students and graduates…for everything but Milkround jobs and the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. Wouldn’t the world be better off if Britain’s greatest graduates were doing something that gave them that mad excitement for life?
Originally published at foresightcareers.co.uk under a slightly less vulgar title!