The Shadow
Published in

The Shadow

When career advice isn’t helpful

Too much career advice can just lead to indecision.

Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

I recently found myself in a couple of informational interviews where I was inquiring about people’s careers. As I’m in high school, this is traditionally the time where you decide on your major and thus your career for at least the next couple of years.

As I was interviewing people and inquiring about their majors and current day jobs, I found myself asking the typical career questions, “Could I see myself doing this and would I enjoy it?” or “Would I wake up happy to do this every day?”

Pondering answers to those questions I realized I realized that all of these careers sounded somewhat interesting, but nothing I could be “passionate about.” Not in the way that I loved writing.

I had fallen in love with writing unlike other skills and hoped to one day do it full-time. Which thus begs the question, why was I conducting informational interviews if I already knew what I enjoyed?

Simply because there’s so much career advice out there. Along with the traditional advice of “follow your passion,” I had also heard advice about how “passion isn’t real,” “don’t follow your passion” and how so much of your enjoyment at work is “dependent on the environment.”

To add to that, I noticed that sometimes there were times when I’d write, and I wouldn’t be happy. If I wasn’t constantly happy while writing, would I be happy 10 years from now?

That sounds a bit trivial, but the small things can lead to something bigger.

Point being, I wasn’t sure what advice to follow. The more I thought about it, I realized that maybe if I liked the company, I’d be happy with a traditional corporate job. Maybe passion didn’t matter that much.

And then I’d change my mind. Maybe I wouldn’t be “living my life to the fullest”. I’d constantly go back-and-forth. There was no way to settle the anxiety and confusion. I was lost and that’s the only thing I knew.

To an extent, we’ve all experienced this. As a consequence of living in the digital age, we’re overwhelmed with information from various perspectives. Not knowing what to take, we become lost. Confused. Stuck. We’re left at indecision.

To this, I cannot offer a clear solution as to what advice works and what doesn’t. The truth is, you’ll never know. In the vast field of picking the right career, the ultimate truth is there is no single philosophy that will work for everyone. For one, following their passion might lead to extreme success and happiness. For the other, it might lead to extreme debt and depression.

Ironically, what I’m about to say adds to this giant pile of career advice, but it’s worth a shot.

At the end of the day, the only way you’re going to know if following your passion works or doesn’t is if you try it out. You can interview as many people as you want, reason as much as you want in your head, and try as many risk-free projects as you want. But I’ve personally found, with the amount of advice that exists, the only way you’ll feel at peace is if you try it out. Maybe there’s a risk-avert way to follow your passion, but that’s the game I believe we have to play. And that’s scary. But to feel at peace, it might just be necessary.

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Nathan M

Nathan M

I use my abundant experience to write about productivity, enjoying life a bit more, and being a slightly less annoying human.

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