I was sitting around with two friends this weekend, chatting about life decisions and the choices that had lead us to our current paths. Not to toot our own horns, but we are a tri-fecta of intelligent women, and yet we have all chosen paths that may not always be associated with the top tier of “success.” Two of us are fitness + instructors (the + being a dabbling in other endeavors, as in the world of blogging and nutrition…) and one is in school to become a nurse practitioner. I guess if we wanted to be more classical in our life pursuits, the description of our career paths should’ve been: a law student, a business student, and a med student. But, the crazy thing is, each of us is thrilled by our not so classical choice. And, perhaps the really crazy thing is, somehow in the conversation “success” got juxtaposed to, as opposed to, aligned with our lives – had we made the right choice in choosing happiness over success…
IThis last question naturally got the musing juices into motion. We are often told to follow our bliss. And yet, our bliss seems to run contrary to our success in that we must choose whether we are to follow our passion and thus give up success, or whether we are to take the traditional road to success and thus neglect our passion. In a way, the traditional road is easier. It is by no means easy, I know a few med students and that shit ain’t a joke, but it is a road built upon positive societal reinforcement. For example, my med-school friends get a slightly different reaction from people when they say what they’re up to versus when I say that I’m a spin instructor. I’m going to stop for a second and say that I am by no means disparaging against anyone’s choices in life, merely, that those choices should not always be made according to that path that we think we should take. If your true passion lies in law or medicine – we need more of you.
IIt has taken me a long time to settle into my decision to wait to go back to school. I ended college thinking I would take maybe a year off before getting my PhD in psychology and then see where that education took me. A year went by and I was still dragging my feet. Then I started to teach and the feet dragging continued. I was so stressed all of the time about why I wasn’t able to motivate myself, and about where I should be going and doing with my life. With all of my friends off kicking butt in NYC, Boston, and San Fran, I felt like a big old failure. And then one day I took enough time to stop and think about my life, and realized that despite myself I was happy. I was doing something every day that I genuinely loved. And I was helping people change their lives – wasn’t that what I wanted to do with my doctorate anyways – to help people battle whatever demons they have in order to realize that they are so much stronger than they think they are? Who says I need to be Dr. Berky to do that – or to love and take pride in what I do? Isn’t simply feeling happy validation enough?
IIt is easier said that than done to find one’s bliss. Lifestyles, expectations, debt: huge, big, important things get in the way. But what about happiness – what about loving what you do – aren’t those huge, big important things too? Why is it so easy to discount being happy when so being affects absolutely everything in your life? Should we not instead equate happiness with success instead of financial and social recognition? I acknowledge that I am 24 and single. I don’t have kids or mortgage, and haven’t had life kick me in the face too, too many times. All I want to do in this post is to question why it is so difficult for us to align success with happiness, and to pose the question: Where is it that you find your bliss, and is it a path that is well-tread, or merely happened upon ever so often? Why are those paths generally disparate instead of parallel? We cite constraints that hold us back from doing what we love, and those barriers feel so very physical, and yet, we are often the ones who have constructed them. They are only as tangible as we make them. And the same goes for bliss. It is only an abstract concept if you make it so.
Some words of wisdom from Mumford & Sons, "Awake My Soul."
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die Where you invest your love, you invest your life